Happy New Year! In the early hours of 2012, I finally finished this book which is the first in the China n Chintz Mystery series and I have been trying to write a review for it for a few weeks with the question ‘Did I really not like it that much?’ at the forefront of my mind.  The story features Emerald O’Brien, the owner of a china tea shop and town witch, who is also a single mother to two children Kip and Miranda.  The story starts off with her being visited by the ghost of Susan Mitchell who asks her to help prove that her husband had murdered her, the following day Susan pays another visit with another astral nasty in tow bent on destroying Susan and her family.  This makes up the psychic/mystery part of the story.

I really wished that I liked this book more than I did …it went on for ages, and not in a good way.  Sometimes you start reading and the main character just bugs you.  Emerald has had a hard life, but she is also very smug, spouting her rules and regulations (that she often doesn’t follow herself) to all and sundry.  Her kids’ antics were probably supposed to show how understanding and kind she is, but instead it showed the weaknesses.  Turns out that one of her kids had done a spell which had created a “Mr Big and Ugly” spirit that had set out to kill Susan, her family and friends and destroying her house at the same time.  Getting rid of the spirit almost cost her her life as well as that of her friend too.  The séance and cleansing ritual were covered in great detail, but what seemed really weird was that after all the injury, destruction and fear, the punishment for the kid was grounding and being banned from doing magic, I don’t know, I would have thought that if an entity had been conjured that wanted to kill everyone, that there would be more of a consequence…

The mystery part was totally underwhelming.  There wasn’t really a lot of investigating going on and information just fell into her lap via her friend.  The murderer was introduced in the final quarter of the book, and as soon as soon as he had appeared, there was no doubt who the killer was straight away.  I’ve mentioned this before, but this is always such a disappointment and when there isn’t a strong story line, likable characters or a situation to redeem this, finishing off the book feels like a chore.  The ‘showdown’ seemed rushed and quite clumsy, here’s the bad guy – coincidentally with ‘bad guy’ written over his forehead, and off she goes ferreting around his house looking for evidence. He finds her and he tries to kill her.

With the gaps in the details of the murder and mystery part, there were some really odd moments of highly detailed elements that at the time you think are odd, but hope that later on it will be a clue, but no, detailing how her kid smelt musty because she didn’t shower was just a peculiar detail for no reason.  The final thing that got up my nose were that there were also a lot of ‘personal belief’ statements which again felt more patronising than anything else.  After all of her talk about her ex husband and what she was looking for in a man, she didn’t waste any time in hopping into bed with the new bloke without getting to know him, then when he starts acting like an asshole she’s all surprised and of course in the end his behaviour effects the kids.

So, on the whole, while this book seemed really promising – and I loved the author’s website, it just didn’t work for me. I think that sometimes when you read some truly brilliant books, the ones that are just OK often seem worse, would I read the next in the series?  Sadly, no.

Author’s website http://www.galenorn.com

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