How attractive is this cover? The title sounds good, the subtitle – “A vintage magic mystery” – sounds simply fantastic but…
I did not finish at ~40%.
Even though I was nearly at the halfway mark of the story, I can give no strong impression of any of the characters. But perhaps I’m simply not really into contemporary styles of writing and contemporary novels, since this book had a decent rating 3.9+/5 on Goodreads, and plenty of 4 and 5-star reviews.
The story deals with Madeira “Maddie” Cutler, a fashion designer who returns back to her hometown of Mystick Falls to attend her youngest sister, Sherry’s wedding. Unfortunately, someone invited the groom’s ex-girlfriend, Jasmine Updike, to the party and she spends her time annoying anyone there is to annoy. During the party (can’t remember what kind of party it was but it was one that she arrived home for), Jasmine is found strangled by the bridal veil in the bedroom belonging to Maddie’s middle sister, Brandy, who is absent presumably throughout the novel. Suspicion lies on Sherry, as she had earlier said she wanted to “kill that bitch” during the party, which was conveniently overheard by everyone present. So there’s smatterings of fashion-related terms, inside jokes and quotes thanks to Maddie’s chosen profession. And then, there’s the magic aspect. Maddie has an Aunt Fiona, who is her mom’s best friend rather than an actual relative, and it’s strongly hinted that she’s a witch. Maddie herself discovers that she has a gift for psychometry, the ability to see feelings and memories associated with an object after touching it. Maddie has to use this newfound gift to clear Sherry’s name and find the real murderer.
Other significant members of the cast are: Eve, Maddie’s best friend; Justin Vancortland, Sherry’s fiance; Deborah Vancortland, Justin’s mother; Nick Jaconetti, Maddie’s on-off boyfriend and bedfellow; Inspector Werner, a strongly-built policeman who grew up bullied because of Maddie’s nickname for him as a child – “Wiener”. I hadn’t read as far as this yet, but it seemed like there might’ve been a love triangle building up between Maddie, Nick and Insp. Werner.
The contemporary style of speech threw me off a little (having spent so much time reading Agatha Christie and earlier works), although I don’t think this was entirely the reason why I stopped reading. After all, I have recently finished reading The Eyre Affair and Libriomancer, both of which are very much contemporary and post-2000, both of which I enjoyed very much. I think there was just a very definite air of frivolity throughout this novel that threw me off. Finding a dead body (murdered! strangled!) in your sister’s old bedroom is something that would probably traumatise anyone, even if the dead body belonged to a person nobody really cared much about. Not only this, but Maddie’s youngest sister becomes a murder suspect. But despite this, on the very night after the murder happened, both Maddie and her youngest sister Sherry were both in the mood to have sex/a one night stand while in the same house as where the body was found. Also where their father still lives. OK. Um.
I don’t know, call me a prude, but I don’t find that very realistic.
All in all, the mystery wasn’t intriguing, the characters weren’t impressionable nor relatable, and the so-called magic came in too late, and too little. I had lost interest by then.
It might also have been a case of wrong book at the wrong time? Having 11 books borrowed from the library, and 7 more delivered from an online bookstore, there’s a stronger onus for me to finish my books quickly and lesser patience to deal with flawed plotlines. After giving up on this book though, I have started on another Agatha Christie and I am progressing fine with it, there isn’t as much of an impatience to get on with all these other books that I have to read, because I am truly engrossed with the story I am reading now.