[Note from Frolic: This was written before the recent BLM protests]
Earlier in our Stay-At-Home orders, I struggled to focus on reading. I believe the unrelenting sense of doom and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness left my attention span occupied by scenarios that were simply not conducive to reading, much less comprehending. This experience was like a one-two punch to my soul since reading has always been my safe place, my escape hatch to new worlds that give me a break from reality. Back in then, I tried all of my tricks, comfort reads, paranormal, and even crime/mystery, but nothing worked, I simply could not focus. I knew I had to try something completely new and different in an attempt to rattle my reading mojo back to life. Enter the glorious world of paranormal cozy mysteries. The cute illustrated cover caught my eye, and the blurb sealed the deal, Witch Hunt was going to save the day! And save the day it did.
Violet Mooney has had a rough couple of years. Her mother left her and her father when she was very young, later, her father died, and she was raised by her grandmother. Her beloved grandmother’s sudden death has left Violet shaken, but her friends in the small, quaint town of North Harbor, Connecticut, are her support system. Violet owns The Full Moon crystal shop, and while Violet and her grandmother were/are beloved citizens of the town, not everyone loves the idea of a crystal shop. In fact, councilwoman Carla Fernandez seems particularly perturbed by the “voodoo shop,” sullying her town’s quaint appeal. Carla is a force to be reckoned with and doesn’t hold back when she picks a fight with Violet in the middle of the local coffee shop’s morning rush.
Violet was already having an off sort of day when she stopped in for her morning cup of Joe. The upsetting encounter with Carla left her completely rattled and off-kilter. She’s had a strange, funny feeling for days and can’t seem to center her thoughts. She gathers some of her favorite healing crystals, her fat orange cat, and heads home to nap away the bad feelings. Things take a decidedly harsh turn when Violet is awakened by two police officers at her door. Carla was found murdered, and the last time anyone saw her was during the loud, angry confrontation in the coffee shot. Violet is suspect #1, and because she was home sleeping, she has no alibi.
The odd, strange feelings that have been dogging Violent amplify and mysterious, seemingly unexplainable things start happening to Violet. Do witches really exist? Is she a witch? Why exactly did her mom leave her all those years ago? And who killed Carla?
When I first started reading Witch Hunt, I knew next to nothing about the genre of books. I quickly learned a cozy mystery can be equated to Jessica Fletcher’s Murder She Wrote or Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden series. The crime-solver in a cozy mystery is typically a woman. You know me and my love of all things, Nancy Drew! The amateur sleuth-y woman tends to live in a small town and owns or runs a business like a florist, librarian, bookseller, bed and breakfast, diner or even a stay at home mom. Whatever she does, she’s known for doing it well, and the skills needed to succeed at her job end up helping her solve mysteries. I decided adding the paranormal aspect to the cozy mystery genre was a perfect fit because I love a good witch story with all of my heart.
Witch Hunt gives us a terrible crime, off-page, and then leads us on a journey filled with red herrings, twists, turns, and startling revelations. It is a real page-turner filled with complex characters who have oddly relatable problems. Add in Violet’s long-missing mom and whoa nelly, things really get interesting! The crime scene is set, and the list of possible killers is a long one. Each secondary character that’s introduced could easily become its own full-length story. The pacing and paranormal world-building are exceptional. As I said, I love a good witch story, even if all of the witches aren’t so good!
Witch Hunt was a real reading slump buster for me. I’m so happy I took a chance on a new to me author in a new to me genre. It did not disappoint.
I look forward to reading more cozy mysteries, especially of the paranormal variety. I highly recommend Witch Hunt by Cate Conte if you’re interested in trying out a paranormal cozy mystery. It releases on June 30th.