Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

If you’re looking for a light, breezy, paranormal sort-of romance-murder mystery, here’s the story for you. Action starts early, with a vampire testing the wards around Jade’s bakery in the first sentence, and doesn’t let up for the whole story, with a sufficiently-gruesome final climax. Two of them, actually.

This novel isn’t heavy to depth of character, philosophical angst, or strongly-felt emotion. However, in paranormal fantasy, I don’t expect much of that. It’s pretty obvious that’s Jade’s upbringing (and recent practice with her stepsister) has made her wary of relationships, and except for the lure of wild magic, a stint on the dance floor at a night club is all she expects in that regard. One-night stands are obviously insufficient, but she keeps trying. Enough deep psychological motivation, already.

Enter the most gorgeous hunk of werewolf any woman can imagine. Perfect body, ruggedly handsome, charming, and enamoured with her. It would be a spoiler to say where the relationship goes, but it certainly impels the plot and Jade into the rest of the story. It seems that someone has been murdering werewolves and draining their blood. Thus an unholy alliance including a very powerful vampire and an alpha werewolf with his pack join the unwilling Jade to form a far-from-normal detective team.

BTW, if you’re looking for “edge of terror” type of horror, you won’t get it here. This is just a little too romantic for that sort of stuff. No matter how powerful and dangerous the other magical beings arrayed against her, Jade always has a reserve of confidence that all will be well, just as she has a powerful witch for a grandmother just a ferry-ride away, ready to come charging in and fix everything. Of course, since all the other creatures keep telling Jade that she is way more powerful than she thinks she is, this fits the plotline. However, it’s a bit of a disappointment for true horror fans.

Since I, too, am a Vancouverite, I have to comment on Ms. Doidge’s excellent use of setting. The contrast between the funky, well-heeled area of West 4th Avenue and Kitsilano and the horrible magic setting superimposed on it really adds to the paranormal disconnect in the story.

I don’t usually comment on covers, but I think Ms. Doidge needs to know that I don’t like this one. Too many plot elements crammed in, with nothing to pique my curiosity. Font too plain and way too big: makes everything else look crowded.

Recommended for the paranormal crowd, if you’re not too hard-core. Four stars out of five.

About the Author: Gordon Long

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