Murder at a magical baking contest off the coast of France.
Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery. When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers. Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom’s big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life. It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again. With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.
This is Book 1 in the Spells and Caramels series.
I’m so happy I found this series! I can’t remember what nudged me into buying this book but it ended up on my TBR sometime last year and I’m very glad it did.
The characters are fun. Imogen is very likeable and her discovery and exploration of her new reality is well-written and enjoyable. Usually I find a story lags a bit while the main character has to figure out their new powers and how to navigate their new world. No lag in this story. Imogen’s new bestie, Maple is delightful and sweet. I look forward to seeing which characters become series regulars.
The mystery is well-plotted. Although there is a mysterious death that precedes the events at the opening of the novel, the main murder does not occur until about halfway through. Normally that would irk me but not at all this time. The story is constantly moving forward. The pacing of the novel is spot on. There is so much action leading up to the second crime that the reader has no time to be bored. There are a reasonable number of suspects whose motivations are sound. Red herrings seem to abound, but they are not all red 😉
The love interest: Not all is revealed here. Just enough to get the reader interested and invested.
The setting is the magical French island of Bijou Mer. The author weaves in just the right amount of description of the picturesque isle. One of my favourites is the imagery of the water display during the solstice celebration.
“A torrent of water geysered up and suddenly, little droplets of water hovered amongst the lanterns, floating and drifting with them. The water droplets caught the gold light. I felt silly tearing up, but I couldn’t help it”
Some things I liked:
- The magical world setting created by the author. There’s so much potential for future exploration of this world in later novels.
- There’s a bigger story to unfold regarding the Magical Kingdoms and the rebellious Badlands Army. The author is not opposed to intrigue and subterfuge.
- The descriptions of food preparations. Some of the items made are quite intricate and beautifully described, without breaking the flow of the story telling.
- Imogen is a very likable main character.
- The foundation for the love interest story is laid but the unfolding is left for future books.
- Maple’s songs are cute and catchy (I imagine).
- Beautiful descriptions throughout the book.
Something I didn’t like:
- Just one minor issue: I found sometimes there was not enough differentiation between how several characters speak. The dialogue patterns were too similar. But that’s a very minor issue and something I think will improve as the series continues and the characters become more fleshed out.
I can’t want to find out what happens next. I’ll definitely be continuing this series.
I give this book 4.5/5 magical Espresso Shots.
This book counts as my first entry for the Beat the Backlist Challenge with Novel Knight. Go team Story Sorcerers!