Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: A Witch Before Dying by Heather Blake

Woohoo, I had a great start to the week :) I feel like I'm back in the rhythm today. I was really productive today and I'm happy about it :) Hopefully, it'll continue that way. In the meantime, I think I have a plan to stay ahead for my blog. Wish me luck :P

Today's review is A Witch Before Dying by Heather Blake. LOL, I stalked the online indicator and as soon as it showed up in one of the bookstore, I went to get it :) And you know what? I would do it again! Enjoy!

A Witch Before Dying by Heather Blake
published by New American Library (Signet) in August 2012
Darcy Merriweather is Salem, Massachusetts’ newest resident Wishcrafter—a witch who can grant wishes for others. While Darcy isn’t able to grant wishes for herself, she does possess a certain knack for solving problems—including the occasional murder...

When Darcy is hired by Elodie Keaton to clean up her missing mother’s disorderly home, the Wishcrafter is certainly up for the task. After all, the motto of her Aunt Ve’s personal concierge service As You Wish is “No Job Impossible.” But beneath the piles of old newspapers and knickknacks Darcy discovers something much more disturbing—Patrice Keaton’s body.

Darcy’s determined to give Elodie peace of mind by investigating her mother’s disappearance and death. Patrice was last seen over a year ago after a fight with her Charmcrafter boyfriend. Was her murder a crime of passion? Or were Patrice’s troubles caused by the Anicula, a wish-granting amulet? Now Darcy has to not only find a killer, she has to find the Anicula— before the power of ultimate wish fulfillment falls into the wrong hands...
Genre: Cosy mystery
Series: A Wishcraft Mystery, Book #2

The Story: Darcy Merriweather is making the best out of her new start in life, settling in Salem, Massachusett, adapting to being a Wishcrafter and enjoying the possibility of more with the hunky sherriff and single dad Nick Sawyer. Her newest job at As You Wish, her aunt's personal concierge service, is to clean out Elodie Keaton's mother's house. This is going to be easier said than done given that Patrice, Elodie's mother, was a hoarder. It is also a delicate situation as Patrice has disappeared two years ago. And the situation is becoming more delicate by the second when Darcy discovers her mummified body in a suitcase under all the mess... Quickly, the town is buzzing with gossips and names of possible suspects... but all agree that Patrice lost her life because of the Anicula, the amulet that grants all wishes, even those of a wishcrafter.

When Elodie asks Darcy to resolve the murder, Darcy has no choice as Elodie is a client. Not that Darcy is unhappy with the request as she'd like to satisfy her curiosity as well. However, time is tight as Darcy also has to take care of the last minute preparations for Aunt Ve's wedding while she is sick... and when things start to go really wrong, Darcy suspects foul play.

My Opinion: A Witch Before Dying is a book I was really looking forward to reading this summer as I really enjoy Ms Blake aka Heather Webber's cosy mystery books :) I enjoy her writing style and the fluffiness in her books and A Witch Before Dying was no exception, although I did have a few issues.

Everything that I said I liked and enjoyed in the first book, It Takes a Witch, when it comes to the setting and the characters is still valid in A Witch Before Dying. The world building is interesting, well-developed and most important, consistent :) The atmosphere is still light and fun and the cast of characters, still quirky :) It's also interesting to see that Darcy is still discovering her new town, getting familiar with her surroundings and the people. What I like the most is that Darcy feels like she finally belongs :)

One thing that stood out for me in A Witch Before Dying is that Darcy is actually going to get a PI license! How refreshing! LOL. I've tried to read more cosy mystery, but I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of amateur sleuthing ^_^; I just feel they find themselves in dangerous situations that could be avoided. Part of it is of course to add to the storyline, but another part is due to them being amateurs and not having a head over their shoulders ^_^; I don't really believe that Darcy having a PI license will make her a true professional and give her instant experience, but I like that she's acquiring a license and at least, will be legitimate :) I also like that Darcy ended up mentoring Mimi, Nick's daughter. Although both are new at being wishcrafters, I think it's sensible that Mimi has a mother's presence around. Finally, I'm enjoying the pace at which the romance is developing between Nick and Darcy. It's just perfect because you know that the two are attracted to each other and will eventually end up together, so there's no need to rush. It's not one of those romance where you wonder how the guy feel or with multiple love interests. I like knowing that Nick and Darcy are attracted to each other, because it allows Ms Blake to focus on other aspects of the story.

Surprisingly to me, I find the weakness of A Witch Before Dying was the mystery ^_^; The one involving Aunt Ve's wedding was well-done, but the one concerning Patrice Keaton's murder and the Anicula, not so much. I just feel it took a while before the main mystery became interesting, engrossing - which is unfortunate because once it did, I was totally hooked. The twists accompanying the main mystery were also great - I did not see them coming - and was pleasantly surprised when the culprit and the details were revealed. I think one of the explanations as to why it took so much time for the story to becoming interesting is that Ms Blake tried too hard to set up multiple directions, possibilities and suspects to the case. It just didn't feel, hmmm, natural and it detracted from the whole storyline instead. In addition, there was the part where someone was after Darcy and that was totally superfluous. I'm actually still not sure it totally made sense ^_^; And this was disappointing because the mystery aspect is usually one of Ms Blake's strengths. Case in point, I still haven't figured out who is the Elder is and I'm mighty curious LOL.

My Grade: B-. A Witch Before Dying was a good sequel to It Takes a Witch. The only complaint I have with the book is the weak mystery, otherwise, it was very enjoyable. I'm now looking forward to the next installment in the series!