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Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels Book 2) Kindle Edition
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Imogen is new to the magic world, trying to learn how to cast spells and stay away from the prince in her new mystery land. He's engaged, she's nervous and there seems to be murders happening all the time a war goes on with the Badlands Army. In this edition, a carnival is in town, but when a seer is murdered, a rival is arrested for the crime. Imogen's certain her friend Rhonda wasn't the culprit -- and fights to prove it, all the while meeting different carnival folk and learning how to practice magic. In the end, she unearths the true killer when she makes a connection with the dead during an annual creepy ritual.
My favorite part of this series is the imagination behind all the characters, setting and actions. It's clear the author has built an entire world before writing the books, as it takes depth and design to architect this layer of intricacy in a story. Information about Imogen's background is kept minimal, as I'm sure that will be a focus of a future book, but when you learn things, you learn them quickly! Between vampires, shifters, and swallows, there's an entire structure to the world of witches and wizards. Add in Imogen's role as an assistant to the royal baker in the palace, she's constantly in the middle of situations where she is always out of her element. It's a great break from contemporary fiction, full of quirky but lovable characters, that leaves you wanting more. I enjoy the series and will definitely keep reading it in 2018. Charming. Vivid. Comforting.
This book nicely combines both the paranormal and mystery elements into an engaging story. I like how the mystery is a bit different from most cozy mysteries. Yes someone dies and the main character searches for the culprit, but it's all just a bit different. Which is great! And the paranormal touches, magic and fun setting really add something to the series.
I liked the mystery aspect of this book, I had figured some things were going on or something wasn't quite right with something, but not predict fully what exactly. I did predict a few things, but not all the details and it was still great to see things come to light and the reasons behind things. I wasn't sure why the murderer was and was surprised when that came to light, but it did make sense. The pacing is also a bit different than normal cozy mysteries, the murder isn't directly at the start and after the murder gets solved there are a few more chapters to wrap things up.
And there is a lot of magic and paranormal things involved everywhere, it's woven so nicely into the story it's completely part of it. I liked reading about Imogen learning to control her magic a bit more, we learn more about the magical world and there's a carnival! And maple is now the royal baker and there are some great side plot lines involving her and the other side characters. Iggy is still one of my favorite characters and there were some great scenes involving him.
It was a joy to read this book. I can't say it enough, but this book is so much fun to read. And while it touches upon some issues like murder and some others it keeps having this light tone. I like how it has both a paranormal feel and a strong focus on the mystery as well. And the whole city and the carnival in this book were fun to read about.
There isn't much progressing with the romance in this book. Imogen meets another male she becomes close with, but I am glad it never felt like it was going in the direction of a love triangle, which was nice. She really only wants to be friends with Edward. However I still didn't like Edward. I did like the few scenes with hank, but I just wished we got to see more of Imogen and Hank together.
To summarize: This book was just as much fun as book 1. I flew through the book and wanted to keep reading. The blend of paranormal and mystery is so well done and really works here. The mystery was a good one, I had predicted a few things, but not all the details and it was great to see everything play out and come to light. I like how the pacing and events of the book don't follow the typical progressing of a cozy mystery, the slightly different pace really works. The characters are great to read about and I liked seeing more of Maple, Iggy and some new characters. There are some fun plot lines involving the bakery and the carnival. I didn't really like Edward, but I was glad it never felt like it was turning into a love triangle. There isn't much romance in this book and I hope we get more of Hank and Imogen together in next book. I am looking forward to starting book 3 soon!
I loved this book and even tho' it doesn't quite have that extra pizzazz to put it up to a 5-star rating, it's a solid 4.5 in my opinion.
I adore the characters in this series. Imogen, Maple, Iggy, and Hank have all become almost like friends to me and I really care about what happens to them and how they react to situations. Imogen's a little too impulsive for my personal taste, but she at least does slow down and think sometimes, just not all the time. I still love her though. I love her enthusiasm and her intelligence. She's a good friend to Maple and Iggy as well.
The setting of Bijou Mer is great. I love the descriptions of the area and buildings. Ms. Johnson does a nice job of discussing the settings without going overboard with her descriptions. I'm able to easily imagine the carnival grounds, the cemetery they visit, etc.
The plot line moves along steadily. There were two villains. One I knew from the start. The other wasn't quite as obvious and I was actually disappointed because I had liked the character a lot and hated to see him as a villain.
All in all, it's a fantastic installment in the series and I highly recommend it! I do recommend starting with the first book, Seashells, Spells, and Caramels as there is backstory that you need to understand.