A Beguiling Spell

3 Stars

This book was hilarious. Like I thoroughly enjoyed it hilarious. Click’s wit is just great, scatter is definitely my favourite though. How could you not like a were-racoon who often gets slightly confused when her personality is split into three. And then there’s Walter. Walter the ghoul and non-violent one so naturally he’s the secretary of this supernatural investigation agency. There’s a joke about the difference between supernatural and something else but it was the only joke that didn’t really sit. I was like… meh… semantics. So that part was great. The pacing of the story was also enjoyable. So yeah, I had fun reading it.

However, technically this book didn’t really hit the mark for me and unfortunately even with all the hilarity and plot twists it definitely took me out of the story a bit.

Firstly the transitions are off. If you watch the video I ramble on in more detail about this. But things just seemed to happen. For example, there was this one time when they left a building and decided to follow the son of the man who hired them. Almost immediately either in the next paragraph or chapter, they were spying on him after saying where he was a few blocks away and I don’t remember them actually going. I reread it a few times. A lot of times in the book you are aware something is going to happen and a new chapter maybe even a page break would appear and what was going to happen is in the midst of happening and usually the scene has entirely changed but there’s no transitional sentence. Nothing to let me know ‘I said this thing was happening now we are at the new scene and it’s happening’. Or have them actually go to the new scene while talking about other plot moving stuff. Getting from point A to B wasn’t always a smooth transition.

Like saying we’re going for lunch, and the very next encounter with the same characters they are having a conversation about something so I still have ‘we are going to lunch’ in my mind and then, in the middle of the conversation, someone takes a bite of food. When did the scene change? How did we get here? Where are we? How much time has passed reasonably from let’s go get food to eating it? These are the easiest examples to explain but there were bigger ones that always left me reading the before and present trying to figure out if I missed something. It just made me think of the side notes, (no matter how hard I try to impress my editor lol), that said ‘show time passing’, ‘describe the scene’, ‘how/when did we get here’ and the like. Maybe that’s why I noticed cause it’s a thing I know I’ve actually had to take a step back and deal with in my own works. (and probably still didn’t catch all of them).

It also became a big problem with the therapist sessions. The book starts off in the action. But amidst that, it gets interrupted by a therapist interrupting our lead-witch Click. My first thought, completely forgetting this is the second in a series, was don’t tell me she isn’t actually a witch and I’m going to find out she’s crazy by the end of the book. That was not what I came into this for. I don’t think I felt confident it was all nonsense until the session when she wiped the therapist’s memory to escape the session. My problem with this is you can not under any circumstance know what is actually happening, and what is past tense and being told to the therapist.

When Click leaves a session I can assume it’s real-time but then at the end of a section of story I’m thinking is real-time based on this assumption another therapist interruption will happen so she’s now back in therapy. So when did it stop being a present time story and a past time retelling? The only time it was clear it was all realtime was when she stalked her evil sister blacked out and then woke up in therapy confused about how she got there. All the rest didn’t have any signifiers or obvious transitions to say this is couch session, and this is actually happening.

A good way to have handled this is the subplot of her supposedly always stalking her evil sister. It only happens the one time I mentioned and, as I said, it’s the only time I don’t remember thinking, so when did we slip out of the real world into therapy world. If that happened more often, she stalks sister convinced she’s part of the case, she attacks her, blacks out ends up on couch and then tells what happened say before she went to go to her sister. A piece of the plot that the author conveniently left out specifically for the session that would be inbetween what we know happened before she decided to stalk her sister, and when she actually did stalk her, then it would be obvious. What happens now is couch stuff and everything said outside of this is real-time stuff. It would’ve established a more cohesive framework, story within a story vibe and set up clear dividers between present and past. As it stands I still don’t know what was actually told to the therapist and what happened in the present because of how every time I thought present-day action was happening Click would always end up in the therapist’s chair saying you always stop me at the good parts thus insinuating everything I read wasn’t happening and was actually a client account of the past to a therapist.

The other easiest way to do this would’ve been to start out with her in the therapist’s chair, and make this whole story a framework type story that’s told in one session. Then it would be painfully obvious that nothing is present-day and it’s all a therapy session. Including the parts where she blacks out and recalls each time she woke up in therapy. Maybe I’m just weird but I definitely needed obvious clarification about this. And, as far as the evil sister, the other reason she needed more page time is because it’s hard for the ending payoff to work if readers don’t get to see more of the stalking and waking up confused in therapy. Scatter says she does this way too much and they are no longer interested in doing it but that’s a one-off and then she never spies on her sister again anyway.

Lastly, the whole moral thing about knowing the good person in her sister is still inside was eye-rolling for me. Who cares? Why can’t she just be evil, sometimes she wins and her plans succeed, sometimes she loses and Click wins. The best thing about her is that the sister was just like. Meh, you beat me this time but there’s always next time. She was completely unconcerned and even told Click to call their mother. I loved that. I even laughed. It was brilliant. They can be sisters, have this dynamic to their relationship and without the need to bring the evil one to the light. What they have is fun and exciting and I’m hoping it travels into the rest of the series.

There are more things I could say but more importantly, I definitely like this one enough to consider reading the next one. This was a hilarious ride of twists and turns and chocolate. I mean how can you not love chocolate? The issues I had definitely held me back on a technical side and made it confusing at times to sort out where I was and what was going on but beyond that, it’s a hard recommendation. If you want a fun, light read, full of evil mischieve and non-threatening yet somehow still threatening ghouls, then this story checks all the boxes.

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