Series Review: Magic Potion Mystery

POTIONS.png

A POTION TO DIE FOR (#1)
ONE POTION IN THE GRAVE (#2)
GHOST OF A POTION (#3)

HEATHER BLAKE
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal

★★★☆ – ★★★★

GOODREADS 

A POTION TO DIE FOR

As the owner of Little Shop of Potions, a magic potion shop specializing in love potions, Carly Bell Hartwell finds her product more in demand than ever. A local soothsayer has predicted that a couple in town will soon divorce—and now it seems every married person in Hitching Post, Alabama, wants a little extra matrimonial magic to make sure they stay hitched.

But when Carly finds a dead man in her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from most popular potion person to public enemy number one. In no time the murder investigation becomes a witch hunt—literally! Now Carly is going to need to brew up some serious sleuthing skills to clear her name and find the real killer—before the whole town becomes convinced her potions really are to die for!


 

A Potion to Die ForI read the first book in this series,  A Potion to Die For, as part of kthe Twitter Cosy Mystery Book Club run by   and . The characters, and fun, caught my interests enough that I read the remaining books in the trilogy, One Potion in the Grave and Ghost of a Potion, within the next week or so.

In this series the main character is Carly Bell Hartwell. Carly lives in Hitching Post, Alabama, a town obsessed with weddings. She’s the proprietor of the long-standing family business Little Shop of Potions. Carly also has the power to sense other people’s emotions and illnesses, and supplies her little town with potions to help heal them emotionally and physically.

One of the things that I really liked about this series was that the magical elements that were smoothly worked in. The fact that Carly is a witch (and and her magical talents) are never really at the forefront of the story — the author is careful to prevent this from just becoming a fantasy novel — the mystery is the main focus, but the magic usually always plays a significant part. One of the things I really enjoyed at the first and second books was that the magic, in a way, was kind of open to interpretation by the other characters. We, as the readers, know that Carly’s potions and telepathy are real, but the characters don’t necessarily know if their getting just herbal remedies or whatever. The third book brings the paranormal elements further to the forefront, adding in ghosts and centring Carly’s investigation around them.

One Potion in the GraveThe supporting cast, and most of the residents of Hitching Post, are really quirky and zany, and interesting. There’s a couple of really great relationships in the series. Obviously different secondary characters were more or less important in different books, but two of my favourites were Delia and Dylan. Delia is Carly’s competitor and cousin, who runs a rival potion shop, selling hexes rather than healing. I really liked the animosity between them at the very start of the first book, and how this develops into a really supportive relationship over the series. Dylan is Carly’s ex, and we come into the relationship after they’ve already been through quite a lot. They’ve had two attempted weddings, both of which have ended in disaster, been apart for a while, and now they’ve been flung back together in this small town. Again, I liked the way that this relationship developed. At the start we see both failed weddings as Dylan’s fault, and we’re set up to think of him as a bad guy. But, over the course of the first book, we realise that there was fault on both sides and that Dylan’s actually pretty great. There’s a really nice slow build over the course of the books (which I thought was very believable) as Carly slowly reevaluates her opinion of their relationship.

I really liked the mystery angle of the first book and thought it was well written — the clues were there once you knew the killer, but it wasn’t obvious. I didn’t think the mystery in books two and three were as strong. In book two, I pretty much guessed the killer very early on, and in book three the mystery was a bit convoluted, with the solution coming a little out of left field. However, the characters and the community, by that point, were more than enough to keep me invested and keep me reading.

Ghost of a PotionI had a few problems with the consent issues around the way Carly can just dip in-and-out of people’s feelings whenever she chooses (it’s not quite mind-reading, but she uses it to investigate so it’s not far off) but it was a minor nitpick. I did like the thought the author had put into the way in which the potions side of it worked, but I would have loved to see a little more world building on the magical elements in general.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, book three — Ghost of a Potion — is the last book in the series. I think, if Heather Blake were to continue the Magic Potion Mystery series, I would be very happy to continue with it.

On a side note, you should definitely check out the cover art on these books, because they are really gorgeous. The colours are vivid and there’s quite a lot of detail in them. They had a really nice illustrative style which I adore. I’d absolutely love to see more of the illustrator’s work.

 

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9 thoughts on “Series Review: Magic Potion Mystery

  1. Would you believe despite starting this in-line with the Cosy Book Club, I lost track of the hours and never had the chance to finish the story? I’m going to re-queue this for Winter and see if I can get through the whole series! I will be honest – I didn’t read this post in full as I’m still within the stories myself but I will return once I’ve completed them. I’m hoping to blog about listening to the audiobooks, so that is something to look forward too as well! 🙂

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    1. That’s me that you’re planning to try them again, in that case, you’re absolutely right to have skimmed this post. I wouldn’t want to give the way any spoilers! I’ll be super interested to read your thoughts on listening to the audiobook. I dipped in and out of, I think the first book, in both eBook and audio. I personally found the narrators accent a little strong and hard to get a hold on, so I’m looking forward to your opinion on that. Are you reading the cozy mystery club book for this month?

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      1. Yes, I am!! 🙂

        I sorted out I can grab a print copy of “Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” at the library, so I’m trying to sort out the best time to place that on hold – I was thinking of waiting til the end of this week, thereby I’d have it right in line for early December – as I just found out about a lovely readathon for Mystery Lovers earlier this morning? Its called #cloakanddaggerchristmas – one of the hosts (Novel Nomad) told me she’s quite sure its running 1-31 Dec which is brill as I have some Christmas/hols mysteries up for review in early December – which was part of my #blogmas this year, but finding out #booktube is hosting this readathon sounded AWESOME!

        I’l be using the tag as I read and looking forward to seeing what everyone else is going to be reading — plus, this week I can finally start sharing my #Mythothon reads and by extension of what I shared with you via DM, I found the #ThanksgivingReadathon where I’ll be binge reading those library books I sourced!

        I’ll definitely update you on the audiobooks for the Magic Potion series – as I’ll be pulling those into my selections for #cloakanddaggerchristmas!! By New Year’s, I’ll be stuffed happily on Mysteries – either Historical, Cosy, Contemporary or Christmas/Hols themed!! Do you have any hols themed Cosies you can refer me towards? Even if it in the middle of a series – as that is the one exception I give myself to break series order?

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        1. My gosh! I hadn’t heard of #cloakanddaggerchristmas!!! I want to take part so badly! I’m not sure I’ll have time (I want to do three other readathons next month, including the 12 days of Cozmas) but hopefully if I can overlap a few prompt and be clever about it, I can fit everything in!
          For holiday themed cozies, I just read and loved The Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries books by Jacqueline Frost. There’s two so far, and I read them back-to-back. The first one is Twelve Slays of Christmas and the second in Twas the Knife Before Christmas. The only other one I’ve read (apart from the group book) was a major disappointment, but I’ll have reviews for them all up over December. I’ll let you know if I find any other good ones, I’m still looking 🙂

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