Book Review: Hold Fast Through the Fire (NeoG #2) by K.B. Wagers

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: July 27th, 2021
Pages: 416, hardcover
Source: NetGalley

The Near-Earth Orbital Guard (Neo-G)—inspired by the real-life mission of the Coast Guard—patrols and protects the solar system. Now the crew of Zuma’s Ghost must contend with personnel changes and a powerful cabal hellbent on dominating the trade lanes in this fast-paced, action-packed follow-up to A Pale Light in the Black.

Zuma’s Ghost has won the Boarding Games for the second straight year. The crew—led by the unparalleled ability of Jenks in the cage, the brilliant pairing of Ma and Max in the pilot seats, the technical savvy of Sapphi, and the sword skills of Tamago and Rosa—has all come together to form an unstoppable team. Until it all comes apart.

Their commander and Master Chief are both retiring. Which means Jenks is getting promoted, a new commander is joining them, and a fresh-faced spacer is arriving to shake up their perfect dynamics. And while not being able to threepeat is on their minds, the more important thing is how they’re going to fulfill their mission in the black.

After a plea deal transforms a twenty-year ore-mining sentence into NeoG service, Spacer Chae Ho-ki earns a spot on the team. But there’s more to Chae that the crew doesn’t know, and they must hide a secret that could endanger everyone they love—as well as their new teammates—if it got out. At the same time, a seemingly untouchable coalition is attempting to take over trade with the Trappist colonies and start a war with the NeoG. When the crew of Zuma’s Ghost gets involved, they end up as targets of this ruthless enemy.

With new members aboard, will the team grow stronger this time around? Will they be able to win the games? And, more important, will they be able to surmount threats from both without and within?

In K. B. Wagers’ Hold Fast Through the Fire, the NeoG kick ass, take names, and hug each other a lot. The story focuses more on the interpersonal relationships and the battle games between the various military groups. A task force has been assembled to take down the people behind the problem of supplies not getting to the habitats in the outer solar system. Max, Jenks, and the rest of the team on Zuma’s Ghost are part of the force. 

I usually try to avoid spoilers, per NetGalley rules, but one or two may pop up during this review.

I’m conflicted. The leaders of the task force are all male. They all decide to keep the mission secret from their teams, which are mostly comprised of females. The reasoning behind this is to keep the potential leaks to a minimum. The leaders all recognize that their teams will be extremely mad when they find out they’ve been kept in the dark. They also don’t consider that their team members have unique skills and could have valuable insights if they were only “read in” to the mission. So, when things predictably go pear-shaped with some near-fatalities, and the teams figure out what’s going on, there’s some well-justified anger. Now, most of the blame has to go to Stephan, as it’s his order that gags the other leaders. The most aggravating part is when Max and Jenks pointed out ways they could have helped in specific situations, the guys all say, “yeah, we didn’t think of that.” 

When there are terrorist attacks on various military facilities, Stephan and another task force leader fake their deaths. This seems to serve no purpose other than to send Jenks into a tailspin. Max and Jenks also forgive Luis, Tivo, Nika and Stephan far too easily, in my opinion.

So, I’m conflicted. The physical affection between the teammates felt a lot more like the camaraderie in Wagers’ Hail Bristol series. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but I expect this series to be more military than the other. I also can’t think of a time where she let her male characters make the female characters feel like crap so much. Somehow, I still liked the story. I think credit for that goes to Jenks and Doge. Doge the robot dog was amazing in this book, and I hope his character progression continues, as well as that of Jenks.

Book Review: A Baffling Murder at the Midsummer Ball (A Dizzy Heights Mystery #2) by T.E. Kinsey

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: July 27th, 2021
Pages: 318, paperback
Source: NetGalley

A locked room. A mysterious death. Just another gig for the Dizzy Heights.

When London’s finest jazz musicians, the Dizzy Heights, are booked to play the glitzy Midsummer Ball at a country house in Oxfordshire, they expect a weekend filled with flappers and toffs having a roaring good time.

But the festivities at Bilverton House take a turn for the worse when the group are stranded by a summer storm. And when a member of the Bilverton family turns up dead in a locked room in an apparent suicide, Skins, Dunn and Ellie realise this is going to be a much tougher gig than they thought.

But here’s the lick. What if it was in fact cold-blooded murder? And what if the killer is still at large? It’s up to the Dizzy Heights to once again put down their instruments and get improvising if they want to solve this confounding mystery.

I love T E Kinsey’s Lady Hardcastle series, and enjoyed Skins and Dunn in those books. I admit, though, that I’m struggling to enjoy this spinoff series as well as the original one. A Baffling Murder at the Midsummer Ball is the second Dizzy Heights mystery. Kinsey’s writing is witty, the characters are engaging, and the story well-told. I adore country house and locked-room mysteries, and this combines both.

But…

I figured out whodunnit about 22% of the way in. Normally, that doesn’t bother me too much, but since the quality of the writing is so high, I think I expected the puzzle to be a bit more, well, puzzling. 

The band and entourage comprise a large number of characters, which, in addition to the family and servants at the country house, sometimes made it hard to keep up. Also, some of the characters, such as Skins and Izzie, are called by both their given and nicknames by other characters. 

Spoiler question: How did the murderer know there would be someone by the study when the gunshot sounded?

Book Review: A Hex for Danger (An Enchanted Bay Mystery #2) by Esme Addison

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Cozy mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 13th, 2021
Pages: 336, hardcover
Source: NetGalley

The annual Mermaid Festival is the setting for Esme Addison’s sunny-yet-sinister second Enchanted Bay mystery, perfect for fans of Heather Blake and Bailey Cates. 

The small town of Bellamy Bay has its share of skeletons in its closet, but it isn’t used to bodies turning up in the local history museum. After all, this coastal North Carolina town is much like any other…except, of course, for the mermaids.

Helping to run the family business, an herbal apothecary while keeping her supernatural secret hidden is no easy feat for water witch Aleksandra Daniels. But somehow she’s still found time to help her friend Celeste, who has her own Caribbean mermaid heritage plan the annual Mermaid Festival. As fun-seekers throng the beaches, Alex gets to know and is intrigued by renowned artist Neve Ryland, who’s in town to decorate the local park with a mermaid-themed mural. Celeste, however, is less enamored with the artist, as Neve has been spending entirely too much one-on-one time with her boyfriend Jasper, director of Bellamy Bay’s history museum. Then, a reception for Neve ends abruptly when the artist is found dead in his office.

The police investigation nets Celeste who asks Alex to find the true culprit. With the help of her magically-inclined aunt and cousins, Alex dives in to clear her friends name. But there was more to Neve Ryland than met the eye…and Alex fears she may be in way too deep. Will she catch the crook or be next on the hook?

A Hex for Danger is the second in the Enchanted Bay mystery series by Esme Addison. Alex is settling in with her cousins and aunt at their botanical shop, and is learning more about her mermaid heritage and powers.

The town is holding their annual Mermaid Festival, to celebrate their connection to the Mermaid of Warsaw. The artist who painted a mural for the event is found bludgeoned after a party, and Alex’s cousin Celeste is the prime suspect. As Alex investigates, she is put at odds with her police detective boyfriend Jack, and encounters other supernaturals who are not as benevolent as the mermaids.

The characters are good, and I’m enjoying the series, but I have a few minor quibbles with this one. They may get corrected during the editing process, but here they are:
1- In the first chapter, there’s a brief power outage and it states that people’s cell phones go dark. The blip is later attributed to a blip in the power grid. A blip in the power grid might take out a cell tower, but it wouldn’t cause cell phones to go dark, because they run on batteries. 
2- Personal pet peeve – Don’t write a book set in the South if you can’t spell “y’all.” Sushi Ya’ll is not correct, unless it’s meant as a parody/joke.
3- Alex is very judgmental of others’ behavior, but is perfectly willing to do deep mental scans to get facts to clear her cousin. She considers that the ends justify the means, especially if the people she’s mind-mining turn out to be not so nice people. There’s one instance where someone holds her at gunpoint.. She disarms the assailant, but then holds the assailant against their will and forces them to answer her questions. That’s not ethical behavior.

By the end of the book, it seemed like Alex realized that she was on some shaky ground, ethically, and might be making some improvements. I hope so, because I do enjoy the series, but Alex’s actions are hypocritical and high-handed.

Book Review: Sunrise by the Sea (Little Beach Street Bakery #4) by Jenny Colgan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Willian Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Pages: 368, paperback
Source: NetGalley

New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan returns to the setting of her beloved Little Beach Street Bakery series for a timely and heartfelt novel set in a Cornish seaside village.

Marisa Rosso can’t understand why everyone else is getting on with their lives as she still struggles to get over the death of her beloved grandfather, back home in Italy. Everyone loses grandparents, right? Why is she taking it so badly?

Retreating further and further from normal life, she moves to the end of the earth—the remote tidal island of Mount Polbearne, at the foot of Cornwall, hoping for peace and solitude, whilst carrying on her job as a registrar, dealing with births, weddings, and deaths, even as she feels life is passing her by.

Unfortunately—or fortunately?—the solitude she craves proves elusive. Between her noisy Russian piano-teaching neighbor, the bustle and community spirit of the tiny village struggling back to life after the quarantine, and the pressing need to help save the local bakery, can Marisa find her joy again at the end of the world? 

Possible spoiler alert.

In Sunrise by the Sea, Marisa has come to Mount Polbearne after being kicked out of her flat by her roommate for being too depressed after the death of her beloved grandfather. Caius, her former roommate, is the nephew of Reuben, the multi-millionaire friend of Polly and Huckle’s who has been in the other Beach Street Bakery books. Marisa suffers from an anxiety disorder, which only gets worse when she arrives only to find her new next-door neighbor is a loud music teacher who plays day and night, allowing her no peace until she is forced to kinda/sorta confront him. Since he resembles a large bear, this understandably takes her some time.

Not much has changed on Mount Polbearne otherwise. Polly and Huckle, now with two children, are still struggling to make ends meet. Reuben and Kerensa are still rich, and unfortunately, Kerensa has become a bit oblivious to her friends’ problems, as well as a tad bit obnoxious about her wealth-by-marriage.

Marisa’s recovery from anxiety seems a bit too pat. Yes, she does seek counseling and there are steps she goes through, but from seeing friends and family struggle with social anxiety and depression, I felt her journey was just too linear. 

Maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I read this book. It felt like the same components were used as in the other books, such as a huge storm that damages the island, Reuben swooping in to throw money at things and save the day, and Polly and Huckle never having any financial security, but with a couple new characters, with problems of their own thrown in to spice it up. It’s a good book, but I think I just wanted something…more, especially for Polly and Huckle. Also, there’s just not enough of Neil the Puffin. 

Book Review: Of Mettle and Magic (The Magicsmith #5) by L.R. Braden

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Publication Date: May 14th, 2021
Pages: 340, Kindle
Source: NetGalley

Part fae, part human, all magic. . .

Now it’s time to choose a side.

When the Unified Church in Rome is destroyed by rogue sorcerers, tensions explode. Alex Blackwood will do whatever it takes to prevent a war between the humans, fae, and Earth paranaturals–even turn herself over to the PTF. But when a man she thought long dead walks back into her life at the head of a sorcerer army, surrender is no longer an option.

With all the world watching, and half hoping she fails, Alex and her friends scramble to find a peace that won’t cost them everything.

More than a decade after the Fae Wars, humanity and paranaturals coexist uneasily. Alex Blackwood has recently discovered that she’s a “halfer” – half human, half fae, and one of the few who can handle iron. In Of Mettle and Magic, Alex finds out that she may have even more reason to fear the PTF who police the paranaturals, and who are determined to drive them from Earth, or eradicate them entirely. Alex will have to sacrifice to keep the peace.

I had recently read the first two books in the series, and was approved for this one before I’d gotten to the third and fourth. I’m pleased to say that the storyline was easy to pick up (although I will go back and read the others to fill in a few details). Alex is a likeable heroine and she has a great group of friends. I do question the health of her relationship with the vampire James, but he shows in this book that he is committed to helping her, even at the cost of something he holds dear.

War is imminent. The various groups of fae, weres, and other paranaturals are being hunted by the PTF. A group of sorcerers commits an act of terrorism that sets Alex on a course to stop the war, but she has to make some hard bargains and give up some of her freedom to make it work.

Alex gets help from old friends, such as Kai, Maggie, and Morgan, and her uncle provides backup and support. Alex works well both autonomously and with the team, and it’s great to see the bonds she’s forged with the others have survived the turmoil of the last few months, especially her friendship with Maggie. I liked how Alex didn’t try to go it alone, and worked with everyone.

The series is great for readers who like urban fantasy and a spunky heroine, but a tad less snark than you find in a lot of UF novels.

Book Review: King of Scars (King of Scars #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Imprint
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Pages: 514, hardcover
Source: Own

Face your demons… or feed them.

The boy king. The war hero. The prince with a demon curled inside his heart. Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. The people of Ravka don’t know what he endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet with each day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. 

Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to honing her deadly talents and rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary—and Ravka cannot survive a weakened king. Zoya will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne, but she also has new enemies to conquer in the battle to come.

Far north, Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha wiped from the earth forever. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face the pain of her past if she has any hope of defeating the dangers that await her on the ice.

Ravka’s king. Ravka’s general. Ravka’s spy. They will journey past the boundaries of science and superstition, of magic and faith, and risk everything to save a broken nation. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried, and some wounds aren’t meant to heal. 

After falling headfirst into the Shadow and Bone series on Netflix, I decided to go ahead and read all the books that take place in the Grishaverse. The Six of Crows duology will likely remain my favorite of Bardugo’s work, but Nikolai was my favorite character in the original trilogy, so I was looking forward to reading his story and getting his POV.

Which… well.

King of Scars is very uneven, which is surprising considering how deftly Bardugo handled multiple POV characters and chapters in Six of Crows. I think the main trouble I had with King of Scars is that, despite being the literal title character, Nikolai just doesn’t have as much of a presence here as I would have thought. It’s hard to explain, but I noticed a definite difference in his chapters versus, say, Zoya and Nina’s. We were in Nina and Zoya’s heads pretty firmly, especially Zoya; Nikolai, however, felt a bit more removed from the reader. Considering what a force his character was in the original trilogy, this was surprising. 

It honestly felt as if Bardugo was more interested in Zoya’s character than Nikolai’s. Which is fine, but maybe then just make the story about Zoya and stay in her head instead of trying to force Nikolai into the equation as well. 

Nina’s storyline felt too removed from the main one in Ravka, though I do see how it’s going to come together in the second book. It was also frustrating in the climax of the book to continually switch POVs from Zoya and Nikolai to Nina in Fjerda. If something big and epic was happening with Zoya and Nikolai, I didn’t want to cut away to Nina’s storyline in the middle of it. This is the issue with having multiple POVs spread across different locations undergoing different storylines. Six of Crows kept the crew together and going through the same events, so it flowed better. Here, it was just irritating. I honestly wish Nina’s POV had been taken out of this novel and given her own, maybe a novella. It would have worked better.

The potential romance between Nina and Hanne fell a bit flat to me, which was surprising, considering the fact that I wasn’t overly into Nina and Matthias as a couple. But Bardugo wrote them in a way that, while it wasn’t my cup of tea personally, I could see how they worked together, and their interactions had an ease and a flow to it that Nina and Hanne simply lack. It felt like Bardugo was trying to force the attraction and really make her readers believe it, which consequently made me not really buy into it.

I’m also uncertain how to take to the development of the lore in the world. Once Nikolai and the others are in the Fold, it just exacerbates the issues the book had been having with being more interested in Zoya’s character than Nikolai’s. He doesn’t do much during this part until the end; meanwhile, Zoya is learning and growing in groundbreaking ways. It was an interesting take on the Saints, but their inclusion didn’t feel entirely natural.

We’ll see if Rule of Wolves resolves these issues or if it’s just more of the same.

Book Review: Pride Puppy! by Robin Stevenson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Juvenile picture book
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
Pages: 32, hardcover
Source: NetGalley

A young child and their family are having a wonderful time together celebrating Pride Day–meeting up with Grandma, making new friends and eating ice cream. But then something terrible happens: their dog gets lost in the parade! Luckily, there are lots of people around to help reunite the pup with his family.

This rhyming alphabet book tells a lively story, with rich, colorful illustrations that will have readers poring over every detail as they spot items starting with each of the letters of the alphabet. An affirming and inclusive book that offers a joyful glimpse of a Pride parade and the vibrant community that celebrates this day each year. 

P is for “Pride Puppy!” Written by Robin Stevenson and illustrated by Julie McLaughlin, this rhyming alphabet book is a rollicking run through a day at a Pride Parade. A family celebrating Pride Day at the parade loses and eventually finds their dog, encountering many different people and activities. 

The blurb included in the ARC describes the illustrations as “busy, bright, and dynamic,” and they certainly are. The artistic style will appeal to young children, as will the rhyming cadence. The book is decidedly queer-centric, and the blurb also states that the family is purposely non-gendered. 

This is a great introduction for young readers to the LGBTQ+ community, and I recommend it.

Book Review: Murder at Wedgefield Manor (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #2) by Erica Ruth Neubauer

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Historical mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: March 31st, 2021
Pages: 304, hardcover
Source: NetGalley

In the wake of World War I, Jane Wunderly–a thoroughly modern young American widow–is traveling abroad, enjoying the hospitality of an English lord and a perfectly proper manor house, until murder makes an unwelcome appearance…

England, 1926: Wedgefield Manor, deep in the tranquil Essex countryside, provides a welcome rest stop for Jane and her matchmaking Aunt Millie before their return to America. While Millie spends time with her long-lost daughter, Lillian, and their host, Lord Hughes, Jane fills the hours devouring mystery novels and taking flying lessons–much to Millie’s disapproval. But any danger in the air is eclipsed by tragedy on the ground when one of the estate’s mechanics, Air Force veteran Simon Marshall, is killed in a motorcar collision.

The sliced brake cables prove this was no accident, yet was the intended victim someone other than Simon? The house is full of suspects–visiting relations, secretive servants, strangers prowling the grounds at night–and also full of targets. The enigmatic Mr. Redvers, who helped Jane solve a murder in Egypt, arrives on the scene to once more offer his assistance. It seems that everyone at Wedgefield wants Jane to help protect the Hughes family. But while she searches for answers, is she overlooking a killer hiding in plain sight?

Murder at Wedgefield Manor is the sequel to Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer. Jane and her aunt, Millie, are in England, at the country house of Millie’s former (and possibly current) lover, Lord Hughes. Tragedy strikes when one of the estate’s workers is killed in an auto accident that turns out to be murder. Redvers shows up, and he and Jane must solve the case.

The series is off to a great start. Jane is a likeable heroine, and Aunt Millie isn’t quite as intolerable and overbearing in this book. Jane picks up another potential love interest, and shows that she isn’t bound by her abusive past or by all the conventions society placed upon women of that time. Jane is taking flying lessons in addition to her sleuthing.

While there are lots of suspects and potential motives, the mystery is not terribly complex, and readers may guess the culprit well before the end of the book. Don’t let that deter you. This is an engaging cozy mystery and I recommend this series.

Book Review: Checking Out Crime (A Bookmobile Cat Mystery #9) by Laurie Cass

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: March 30th, 2021
Pages: 352, mass market paperback
Source: NetGalley

Librarian Minnie Hamilton and her clever cat Eddie solve a purr-fect murder, in the newest installment of the delightful Bookmobile Cat Mystery series.

Minnie and her rescue cat Eddie can often be found out and about in their bookmobile near Chilson, Michigan, delivering great reads to grateful patrons all over the county. But they always brake for trouble, and when Minnie sees a car speeding away down the road, and soon comes upon a dead bicyclist, she assumes she just missed seeing a hit-and-run.

Minnie is determined to discover who was behind the wheel, but it soon turns out that things are far more complicated than they seem and there’s more to this case than meets the eye. Luckily, this librarian is ready to read the killer his rights.

Hard to believe we’ve been on the bookmobile with librarian Minnie and Eddie nine times already. Checking Out Crime is the latest Bookmobile Cat mystery by Laurie Cass. This time out, they run into, almost literally, a member of the local biking club, who is dead in the road. Minnie starts to sleuth, and soon has a second biker’s death to investigate. She also has her hands full trying to get her future home in order so that she and her fiancé can get married before the snow flies. Since it’s October, and she’s in Michigan, time’s running out.

Eddie, as usual, helps her find clues, and steers her down the right (bike) path. Minnie also has a new sleuthing buddy, who I hope will be in future installments, as she’s a great addition to the series.

I’ll frankly admit that Minnie’s emotional outbursts in the last couple of books had begun to grate a bit. She’s still gets a bit feisty in this one, and excuses it by saying it’s “normal” behavior, but it was much toned down in this story.

The story itself was good, and I enjoy how Minnie interacts with her friends, family, and the community. She’s very much an integral part of the town of Chilson’s fabric, and is more of a liaison than a busybody.

The plot? Well, the motive for the murders was a bit far-fetched, and unsatisfying, but the characters balanced out the story and this was an enjoyable read.

Book Review: The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall by Jessica Thorne

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: March 26th, 2021
Pages: 347, Kindle
Source: NetGalley

September, 1939. The moon shines silver on the looming yew trees. Thinking of her fiancé, fighting for his life and country in the war, breaks Eleanor’s heart, but also gives her courage. She takes a deep breath, picks up her camera, and follows the dancing lights into the maze.

Present day. With her little brother Missing in Action, gardener Megan Taylor runs from her grief to take a job at Foxfield Hall – a centuries-old place full of myths and folklore – restoring the wild maze in the overgrown gardens. Throwing herself into shaping the tangled ivy, Megan soon becomes drawn into the mystery of Lady Eleanor Fairfax, the Hall’s most famous resident… the villagers say she disappeared without trace at the Harvest Festival in 1939, leaving behind a grieving father and a heartbroken fiancé.

Leafing through delicate old newspaper cuttings and gazing at an ornately framed portrait of the missing woman, Megan is full of questions. Although no body was ever found, could Eleanor have been murdered? Did she run away, unwilling to marry the man who loved her? Or, with her father working at the War Office, did Eleanor stumble upon a secret she shouldn’t have?

Then, one night under a full moon, a mesmerising light inexplicably draws her to the entrance of the maze. Megan is filled with a strange certainty that, if she follows it into the shadows, it will lead to the truth about Eleanor… but could Megan herself be the next occupant of Foxfield Hall to be lost forever?

A spellbinding, magical and addictive tale about the mysterious and ancient legends at the heart of the English countryside, and how to find those who are lost. Perfect for fans of Outlander, Susanna Kearsley and The Binding.

In The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall, Jessica Thorne has created a time-travel, alternate history/alternate future, Arthurian-inspired mystery and LGBTQTIA+ romance. What might have been, and what is, are unsettled, and garden restoration expert Megan Taylor must work her way through a literal maze to find the truth about the past.

Megan takes a job restoring the gardens at a luxury hotel and spa run by her friend from university. Her soldier brother has been declared MIA, and she wants a place to get away from her present. She literally finds that as she wanders through a garden maze and ends up in 1939, meeting Ellie Fairfax, the daughter of Foxfield Hall, which is the site of the present-day hotel. Megan makes it back to the present, and begins to research the estate. Ellie disappeared not long after their meeting, and Megan is determined to discover why. She discovers a curse, a witch, and how the past is not always immutable.

Megan and Ellie are strong and compelling characters, and readers will be heavily invested in their stories.