Publication Date: 02/02/2016
Publisher: Penguin Group
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes
Delia James on the WEB: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads
Excerpt from A Familiar Tail, courtesy of the author's website.
Magic and meows meet in the first enchanting Witch’s Cat mystery!
Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alastair, and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.
Suddenly saddled with a witch's wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle soon meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town....
Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her more than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.
Delia James starts readers off with the first book in a new paranormal cozy mystery series. The first book in The Witch's Cat mystery series, A Familiar Tail introduces readers to Annabelle Britton who has no idea that the 'vibes' she has had all her life are a bit on the witchy side. Readers looking for a series that is mysterious and magical will find this one right up their alley. With everything from covens to cats, this is a story readers won't soon forget.
What I liked:
As many of you know I am a big fan of paranormal reading and a big fan of cozy mysteries. With Delia James' new series, you get a little bit of both. The paranormal characters in this book happen to be witches, but a knowledge of witchcraft isn't needed to enjoy it. The mystery surrounds the death of woman who has a large cat that attaches itself to the heroine. Both parts of the story work in combination to give the reader an interesting read that has a great paranormal premise.
When it comes to reading this kind of book, I look for a couple of things, background and the balance between paranormal and mystery elements. This is the first book in the series, so we don't have a lot to go on, as far as, background in the beginning. James does a wonderful job of describing Annabelle and her gift. We also meet Alastair, the cat and we learn a lot about Annabelle's family and their connections to the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Annabelle learns that her vibes are feelings related to the fact that she is a witch. All of this really held my interest as I got to know the heroine and her feline friend. So James gets top marks for the background part of the story.
Balance is everything when it comes to a series that has to basically marry two genres. James had to give readers a good mystery and a good paranormal tale. I felt like this book leaned a little more to the magical side of things but that stemmed from setting up the series in general. James had to give readers a lot of background here and most of it had to do with witches and covens and the like. The mystery was still a prominent part of the story.
There's a killer in Portsmouth and Annabelle and her new found friends must figure out whodunit. I liked the mystery aspects of the story for a couple of reasons. Alastair, the cat, belonged to the victim. He has taken up with Annabelle and he such a great part of the story. He basically leads Annabelle to the cottage where is owner lies dead and where the story truly begins. The clues were well thought out and they occurred at the right times in the story. There weren't a lot of red herrings, but that didn't seem necessary with all of the other things going on. When a second murder occurs, things get even more complicated. A very good mystery and paranormal even though the balance was a little off.
What I didn't like:
There wasn't much I didn't like about this one. I was skeptical because there are so many books that involve magical cats. I was expecting it to be a little predictable, but to my surprise it wasn't. Also, most of the paranormal cozies are about witches. I figured that part would be overused as well. But James proved me wrong by giving this one an interesting premise that dealt with witches but wasn't really contingent on knowledge of the craft. So no real complaints here.
This is a great new cozy mystery with some very interesting paranormal aspects. Annabelle was a believable heroine and she asked a lot of the right questions. Alastair is a character I am sure than many readers will enjoy. The other ladies of the coven will probably provide great future stories. For the first book in a new series, this one had great background and the balance was pretty good, though not perfect. Read this one... it might change your mind about paranormal cozies.
A Familiar Tail is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
Born in California and raised in Michigan, Delia James writes her tales of magic, cats, and mystery from her hundred-year-old bungalow home. When not writing, she hikes, swims, gardens, cooks, reads, and raises her rapidly growing son.
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