A Haunting is Brewing A Witchcraft Mystery, Book #6.5 A Haunted Home Renovation, Book #4.5 By Juliet Blackwell Author’s Website: www.julietblackwell.net
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
When Mel Turner is hired to rehab an old Victorian mansion to act as the eerie setting for a Halloween bash, she’s expecting the normal challenges—old wiring, bad plumbing, maybe a ghostly specter or two. But when a young man is killed after spending the night in the house, and the mannequins in the attic start to come to life, it’s clear that this is serious paranormal activity. Maybe this time, a real witch is needed.
Recommended by a mutual friend, vintage clothes expert Lily Ivory arrives to offer her help with the mannequins. Armed with Lily’s spells and Mel’s know-how, the two women must figure out the cause of all of the ghostly commotion—before Mel’s renovation project turns into even more of a deadly haunt…(Goodreads)
This short novella fits the bill for a quick read to get you in the Halloween mood. It includes characters from both of Ms. Blackwell’s cozy mystery series, and though it can be read as a stand-alone, I would suggest readers read at least one of the full length books beforehand to get a good feel for the characters.
Mel, who is a historic home renovation contractor, volunteers her services to bring the local Spooner House Museum up to code so that they can hold a Halloween Ball fundraiser. Of course, the house needs more work than she anticipated, but repairs should be completed in plenty of time for the big party. Maya, who works at Aunt Cora’s Closet, a vintage clothing store that donated some of the costumes, and several volunteers from the local performing arts program help Mel with the cleanup. While working, they discuss the legends associated with the home. The original owner was an esteemed doll maker and crafted life size dolls of his family. Mystery surrounded several family members’ deaths in 1918. Did they die from the flu, as an epidemic was sweeping the country, or did they meet with foul play at the hands of the son Reginald? Reginald, accused of murder by his aunt and uncle, committed suicide in the house on Halloween night mere months after his family’s passing. It is also rumored the dolls come to life after dark. The young volunteers dare one of their group, Adam, to spend the night alone in the house to see what happens afterhours. Unfortunately, the next morning his body is found in the entry hall, apparently the victim of hanging…in the same manner as Reginald. Did this young man commit suicide as it appears? Was there some other motivation by family or the other students? Or are the dolls really poppets, controlled by supernatural forces, with malevolent intent?
Adam does appear as a ghost to Mel, but he cannot remember the time leading up to his death. As Mel tries to get to the bottom of what really happened, she finds she can benefit from the help of Maya’s boss Lily, who is a natural born witch. Together, they investigate the paranormal and historical aspects of the case and set a trap to unmask a murderer.
Because this is a novella, it does not delve very deep into plot or character development. However, it is a sweet, breezy Halloween tale that still manages to be engaging and interesting despite its short length. The story of the Spooner family is interesting and the full size dolls sufficiently creepy. It is a nice blending of both cozy series, and I wonder if the characters will interact in future full length novels. I found the characters likable and believable, well, as believable as paranormal can be, and particularly liked that Adam was a good guy and not the typical villain getting his just deserts. This gave the mystery a whole different flavor.
I recommend this holiday mystery to fans of either of Juliet Blackwell’s series or those looking for a fun Halloween story.