Weak Plot but Charming Characters
When I read the third Magical Bookshop Mystery a few months ago, I couldn’t wait to get to the fourth to see what would happen next to the characters. Sadly, Verse and Vengeance wasn’t as enjoyable as the third in the series.
If you are new to the series, it follows Violet Waverly, who has recently moved back to her hometown of Cascade Springs, New York. When she did, she learned from her Grandma Daisy that she has a job as the caretaker of a family secret that involves the tree at the heart of the family bookstore – Charming Books. The bookstore has the ability to connect any reader with the books they want, or the ones they need. It’s a secret that her family has been guarding for 200 years.
And it’s a secret that might be exposed thanks to PI Joel Redding. After not seeing him for several months, he is back in town trying to figure out what secret Violet is hiding. But Violet has more to worry about than that since she is also riding in the Tour de Cascade Springs bike ride that is the brainchild of Grandma Daisy to raise money for the new Underground Railroad Museum that Daisy, as the village’s new mayor, is championing. Violet wouldn’t be participating in the race except that her boyfriend, David Rainwater, wants the two of them to do it together.
Violet and David are almost done with the race when they find an accident ahead on the course. Sadly, the rider has died. Even worse, it’s Joel Redding. Since Violet knows Joel was investigating her, she knows that she is a prime suspect. But can she figure out what is going on without revealing the secret of the bookshop to David? Or is it time to tell him? Why does the bookshop keep sending Violet a collection of Walt Whitman’s poetry?
Joel Redding had actually been introduced in the previous book in the series, and when I realized that not only was he back but he was going to be the murder victim, I was happy. I enjoy that kind of continuity in a series, and we don’t see it as often as I would like. Sadly, the plot didn’t live up to my expectations. It becomes clear that someone we meet early on in this book is a key to the mystery if not the killer, and we spend much of the book trying to find her. There are some developments along the way, but not enough to keep me fully engaged. When we do get to the climax, it is extremely rushed, and it doesn’t successfully wrap up everything, leaving me with some pretty big questions.
I don’t read very many cozies with a supernatural element to them, but I do find the magic in this one to be fun. Fans of the series will be happy to see the mythology of the series advances a little in the book. I’m curious where that is going to go in further books in the series.
Likewise, we get to see the characters continue to grow, and some of their relationships change for the better. All our friends are back, at least for a cameo, and the ones who get more page time are wonderful to spend time around. The new characters introduced for the mystery are engaging and did their job keeping me guessing about what was going on.
Fans of the series will find things to enjoy about Verse and Vengeance. Sadly, the weak mystery keeps it from being as enjoyable as it should be.
Let the rest of the Magical Bookshop Mysteries choose you.