In the Company of Witches
Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery, Book #1
By Auralee Wallace
Author Website: auraleewallace(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
For four hundred years, the Warren witches have used their magic to quietly help the citizens of the sleepy New England town of Evenfall thrive. There’s never been a problem they couldn’t handle. But then Constance Graves–a local known for being argumentative and demanding–dies while staying at the bed and breakfast Brynn Warren maintains with her aunts. At first, it seems like an accident…but it soon becomes clear that there’s something more sinister at work, and Aunt Nora is shaping up to be the prime suspect.
There’s nothing Brynn wants more than to prove Nora’s innocence, and it hurts her to know that even two years ago that might have been easier. Brynn, after all, is a witch of the dead–a witch who can commune with ghosts. Ghosts never remember much about their deaths, but Constance might remember something about her life that would help crack the case. But Brynn hasn’t used her powers since her husband died, and isn’t even sure she still can. Brynn will just have to hope that her aunts’ magic and her own investigative skills will lead her to answers–and maybe back to the gift she once thought herself ready to give up forever. (Goodreads)
In the Company of Witches is the excellent and entertaining debut of the Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery Series. A tightly plotted murder mystery and multilayered characters make this one of the best cozy mysteries I have read this year.
Local resident Constance is not well liked around town and is estranged from her siblings since the death of their father. She is staying at the Warrens’ bed and breakfast while some long overdue repairs are made to her dilapidated family home. She is demanding, difficult, and generally unpleasant. Even so, she does not deserve her untimely death. What at first seems like an accident in the bath is quickly determined to be murder, and Constance’s ghost has taken up residence in the B&B. Brynn, who is a witch of the dead, would normally be able to communicate with Constance but has been unable to since her husband passed away. When Brynn’s aunt Nora falls under suspicion, Brynn exchanges her witch’s hat for a sleuthing cap to get to the bottom of things and clear Nora’s name.
What is there not to love about a quaint New England setting with a beautiful old home run by three witches? This installment even takes place around Halloween. I love so much about this book. Brynn, her aunts Nora and Izzy and reclusive Uncle Gideon each have different witchy abilities and complement each other. Brynn is relatable, carrying the heavy grief of her husband’s sudden death and losing her abilities. Nora and Izzy raised Brynn following her parents’ death, and their love for each other and close relationship are the foundation of this series. I like Gideon, too, as he faces his own demons of the past. Their clueless next door neighbor provides a lot of comic relief. Though there are no other B&B guests during this story, I see so much potential for future guests’ demise to keep them all very busy.
The mystery of Constance’s death is well plotted and executed. Since Constance lived in Evenfall, there are plenty of available suspects with valid motives. Despite Constance’s bristly demeanor, I sympathize with her ghost. Her life was ultimately so very sad. There are plenty of clues sprinkled about, but I was still surprised by the killer’s identity. It all makes sense in the end though. And speaking of the end, please have a tissue handy for the book’s final pages. This installment ends with so much promise for forthcoming books; I cannot wait to read them. Highly recommended.