Two Can Witch the Game

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4 Stars

This was such a fun read. I was into this from the very first page. The pacing, the humour. Everything about this was just awesome. It was hard not to love this.

In this second instalment, Cassandra finds herself again at the centre of a murder. As her friend, Penny, seems to be being personally attacked by vicious appliances clearly there must be magic afoot. Cassandra goes into the mystery with much more confidence than in the first book. That is a bonus. What really sells the book is Dean and her internal monologues whenever she is in his presence. To be fair all her thought processing is nothing short of pure hilarity. Unfortunately, it’s this relationship, the one with her Aunt and some of those almost always on point thoughts that do this book in a bit.

If you’ve read the first book then you know something tragic happened in Cassandra’s past and her aunt saw the only way to help her by wiping her memory, this causes way more harm than good and the spell was too strong to be undone. Cassandra’s powers have been nothing but trouble since which, but they seem to finally be getting their act together. This is problematic because it makes some of Cassandra’s thoughts odd.

Dean was genuinely surprised by her aversion to him in book one if I remember. She calls him Mean Dean. Something about him being a nuisance to her in high school. However, she doesn’t seem to really remember why and, considering she knows strong magic has left serious gaps in her childhood memory, she never, not once in the entire book, considers her memory of him is askew, which is strange. Especially when both her childhood friends have no problems attempting to put them together. They all experienced high school Dean so if they like him something about her view of him must be off. It’s just frustrating to hear her constantly using that as the reason not to give in to him. It was tolerable in the first book, but she’s a mature adult coming into her life as a witch now armed with new information. It just doesn’t hold weight enough and is more of an annoyance than interesting when her simply avoiding his charms is funny, and just so much fun to read without this hanging over it.

Where her aunt is concerned the secrets are frustrating. A woman has died. Plot spoiler here, she’s also a witch from the next town over and she was staying at the inn. Despite this avoiding her niece is her response. Then some lame thing about keeping her safe and Cassandra not being ready is used to justify it. Cassandra is trying to help her friend, in the middle of a murder, and there’s clearly dark magic around her friend Penny’s shop but Aunt Grace decides avoiding her niece and potentially putting her niece’s best friend in more danger is somehow the better choice. It’s all sorts of odd when you consider to solve the crime and protect Penny, Cassandra needs witchy information and not only wants but is demanding it. This is the very thing her aunt had been waiting for. Genuine interest in magic but now Cassandra has to beat help out of her? It was an awkward choice considering the stakes.

This is a cosy mystery so we know nothing bad will happen, but for review purposes let’s assume it wasn’t. In a normal mystery, an author would’ve let Penny die to prove a point early in the book. Create some tension and force both characters to grow from the loss. I dunno, it just felt like even though readers know nothing serious will happen this was a weird way to throw in tension and it didn’t hold up very well. I wasn’t even surprised, another plot spoiler, that she could talk to cats. How was not telling Cassandra that once she embraced her gifts hearing cats would be part of that acceptance a secret worth keeping? It was very anticlimactic and would’ve been far more interesting if I knew it was going to happen. The suspense of if it eventually happening would have kept me waiting cause I knew it be a sign Cassandra was embracing her gifts so the moment it happened I would scream ecstatically with glee. Cassandra would be less thrilled and say something snarky though, but I would be happy. Basically knowing beforehand would’ve made it more powerful. That’s my issue with Aunt Grace. Secrets yes, but the reveals that come up in the book are the type of secrets that I can’t find any reason she should’ve kept especially considering their relevance or lack thereof to the case. This plot angle along with Cassandra not delving deep into her opinion of the ever so dreamy Dean was more confusing and frustrating than entertaining and plot moving.

Then there are the appliances in Penny’s shop/bakery. I was ready for some revelation. It never came. The fact remains items were magically tempered with. Dark magic is afoot as was evidence by one of Cassandra’s spells going wrong when it was perfectly executed. This almost brought a glimmer of hope in the Cassandra Aunt Grace secrecy battle, she still doesn’t offer up much beyond an apology for keeping secrets. Big missed opportunity. The point, however, is the reason behind all this, especially since it was a main factor in the murder case and it was confirmed magic was around and it was nefarious, who and why? From what we know the one witch who did bring her magic to the place was bringing good magic as a gift so if her magic was lingering around why was it sabotaging things, more importantly, how was it doing this before she was even murdered. It wasn’t fully explained and what was explained gave the impression dark magic was on the rise in town so someone had intentionally done it so who?

As far as cosy mysteries go this one had the humour, had the fun, and was sprinkled with just the right amount of tension. For the most part it was amazing. Sometimes more than amazing, but that could be because this author’s comedic flair is my kind of humour. The only thing, as I mentioned above, is that some things that define Cassandra and are essential plot seemed off. There’s even something with the Mayor and Police chief that gets dropped as it also doesn’t connect to the case much like the magic in the shop. That, for me, even though this book is miles better than the first one, is where the book failed. Just like in the first book all the clues, are non-clues. Nothing actually ties itself to the murderer so Cassandra, yet again, goes hunting for things only to come to a nonrelated conclusion.

Still, it gets a high recommendation. I honestly challenge anyone who reads this and likes cosy mysteries to not love it. But even a feel-good mystery with a super witchy sleuth should have clues that directly connect to the culprit. Furthermore, we need more Dean. Like lots more. Preferably topless carrying lumber, purely for science of course. Nothing untoward going on over here with this reader. That and I saw book three is written and maybe on preorder. If they don’t hook up in the next book, if Aunt grace doesn’t start being more cooperative and if it’s another nonclue type mystery that would be me bowing out of this series. There’s only so far, on both the Dean and Grace angle I can be strung along on. As Cassandra’s coming into her own and her love life seemed tied together, there isn’t much further I can go before becoming disinterested. Even if I accept that the clues are only devices for Cassandra to discover herself, I can’t be strung along on the other two points forever. Which is a shame cause this author definitely has a flair for making me big smile when I read and that’s more than just a good thing.

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