A Spell of Trouble & Spell Disaster – Leighann Dobbs

I’ll combine these two into just the one review, as they are similar in all the essentials (other than different plots, of course!).  Before I get started I just want to say how much I love the covers for this series of books – sharp, bright and stylised, I was drawn to them immediately.

Blurb for A Spell of Trouble:  When town trouble maker, Louella Drummond, drops dead in front of Isolde Quinn’s pet store just minutes after threatening both Issy and her cousin Graeme, the police in the small lakeside town of Silver Hollow assume it’s from natural causes.

… Until it’s discovered that Louella was murdered.

51+xJfxLedL._SY346_Not just any murder, though. Murder by paranormal means. Dark magic that could only have been performed by a powerful witch. And every law-abiding paranormal knows that dark magic is forbidden and carries strict punishment at the hands of “the committee” – the mysterious entity that provides law and order within the paranormal community.

Being witches, Issy and her three cousins fear they are at the top of the suspect list. To make matters worse, a secret division of the FBI has gotten wind of the happenings in Silver Hollow and sent two agents to ferret out paranormal activity. Even worse than that, Issy is annoyingly attracted to one of them!

Armed with their unconventional posse of familiars, Issy and her cousins dodge the efforts of the ‘real” police and the special FBI agents while following a twisty path of clues that lead to a shocking betrayal.

 

Blurb for Spell Disaster:  When elderly witch Enid Pettywood unwittingly summons a demon to Silver Hollow, it’s up to Issy Quinn and her cousins to send it back before the committee finds out. Summoning a demon is a serious offense and no one wants to see Enid suffer the punishment the committee is sure to hand down.

91iIQSCUx6L.__BG0,0,0,0_FMpng_AC_UL320_SR214,320_But a simple plan of vanquishing the pesky demon before anyone notices goes awry when the demon makes the leap from wreaking havoc with the town’s electrical circuits to possessing a human. Even worse, it uses that human to commit murder. When another murder attempt is made, it quickly becomes clear that the demon is looking for a permanent human host… and the Quinn witches have only three days to stop it.

With the town Sheriff investigating the murder, Issy has to avoid casting suspicion on herself while trying to track down the demon and dodge Dex Nolan, the government agent sent to town to study paranormals. Too bad Issy can’t seem to forget the stolen kiss she and Dex shared because she has no intention of getting involved with a human.

When the demon’s evil intentions hit too close to home, Issy is forced to make a sacrifice that may haunt her for the rest of her days. Will she be able to stop the demon before it kills again?

 

A Spell of Trouble and Spell Disaster are books 1 and 2 in the Silver Hollow series of ‘paranormal cozy mysteries’.  The best way to explain the sub-genre is what you get if you cross Miss Marple, Mills & Boon (minus the sex), and witches.  Each one has a murder-solving plot in the setting of a small, close-knit, old-fashioned community, with the usual red herrings and authorial sleight of pen to avoid the reader guessing whodunnit too far ahead of the amateur sleuth/s.  The romance only goes as far as some passionate kissing, mainly because the love is between the main witch character Issy and the FBPI agent sent to investigate and root out paranormal activity in the area; so there’s plenty of ‘No!  We musn’t!’ and romantic misunderstandings based on silly assumptions and the inability to communicate properly with the object of your affection.

This series stands out from the usual cosy mysteries due to the addition of the paranormal element.  This mainly consists of witches and magic, although there is a werewolf recurring side character, and brief reference to a vampire.  The human population lives alongside the paranormal citizens of Silver Hollow in blissful ignorance of their abilities, which adds an interesting complication when it comes to magical murders with a human in charge of the investigation.  It also creates a slight discomfort, as to keep the police chief unaware of the paranormal involves numerous episodes of tampering with evidence, contaminating crime scenes and deliberately sending him on false leads.  When the cases involved are actually murders of townsfolk, and the police chief is confirmed as a good guy who is keen to catch the killer/s, it seems morally wrong for the Quinn cousins to keep interfering for their own purposes.  Even if their intentions are good, where do they draw the line?  What gives them the right to decide what is in the best interests of the town? (I may be overthinking this a tad, for a fluffy mystery romance!).

Also morally dubious is Dex’s (the FBPI agent) rationale for continuing to work for an agency that he is aware abducts and tortures people with paranormal talents.  He is ‘uncomfortable’ with this, which is a bit of an understated reaction in my opinion!  His discomfort increases when it’s an attractive woman in the agency’s targets and he, of course, chooses the right side, but he still continues to work for the agency, making no effort to aid any of the paranormals already in their clutches.  Not very knight-in-shining-armour of him.

In addition to Dex and Issy, there are some recurring main-side-characters in th form of Issy’s cousins:  Raine, Ember and Gray.  I really like that the four Quinns all have different magical talents, but all linked by a thread of caring and creativity, and I really liked all of the different familiars introduced.  In the first book I felt that the Quinn’s were quite interchangable;  I didn’t really get a sense of individual personalities and mainly identified them by their talent/familiar.  This developed more by the second book, although Raine and Ember were still fairly swappable.  I did love the use of a plant as Raine’s familiar – a great unique idea!  I also absolutely adore Brimstone (the talking cat), as the unattached elder familiar with all the wisdom and experience…and sarcasm.

Overall I would definitely read more of these books.  They were like comfort-food…not necessarily high in literary nutrition, but easily-read light snacks and full of cosy calories!

“Aren’t we in a mood today?” Issy said, cheerfully moving on to scoop out several portions of bird chow for her colorful macaw parrots.  “Who stole your mouse?”

“Very funny.”  Brimstone stretched out his form across her counter, nose in the air and eyes half closed.  “Pardon me for being more concerned about the murder than who you’re kissing.”

– Leighann Dobbs, A Spell of Trouble

Have a browse through Leighann Dobbs’ website here for many more cosy mysteries, romances, and some less-cosy mysteries under the name L. A. Dobbs.

You can also contact the author on Facebook and Twitter.

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