I like mysteries, and I like fantasy, and so I’m always in the market for a mystery with fantasy elements! Shirley Damsgaard’s Witch Way to Murder is a cute, fun addition to this hybrid subgenre. It has a few flaws, but I liked it enough that I plan to read the next Ophelia and Abby novel as soon as I get my hands on it.
Witch Way to Murder is set in the small town of Summerset, Iowa. Damsgaard sets a great scene; The town, the weather, and the people all feel “real.”
The protagonist is Ophelia, a librarian with an unwanted psychic gift. She can be standoffish to the point of rudeness, which usually annoys me, but I was able to stick with this character, and I liked her in the end. Maybe it’s because the reasons for her standoffishness are painfully clear. I sympathized with her even when she was driving me crazy. Her witchy grandmother, Abby, is a delight. My favorite character, though, was Ophelia’s assistant, Darci. A gorgeous blonde, she’s constantly being underestimated because of her looks, and she’s a master at turning people’s assumptions to her advantage. Every scene she’s in, she steals.
The plot is interesting and more complicated than it looks on the surface, and it held my attention as Ophelia and Co. gradually unraveled all its tangled threads. There’s also a hint of bittersweet romance, but not so much that it overshadows the plot.
Witch Way to Murder would have scored a higher rating if it weren’t for a couple of my old pet peeves rearing their heads: spotty copy editing and overly-expository “infodump” dialogue. Still, I thought it was entertaining, and as I mentioned above, I definitely plan on continuing with the series.
Ophelia And Abby — (2005-2009) Publisher: Bewitched meets Murder She Wrote in this delightful new cozy mystery series featuring Ophelia Jensen, small town librarian and reluctant psychic, and her grandmother Abby, a benevolent witch. Thirty something Ophelia Jensen wants to live a quiet life as a small town librarian. She’s created a comfortable existence with her kooky, colorful grandmother Abby, and if it were up to her, they could live out their days — along with Ophelia’s dog Lady and cat Queenie — in peace and quiet. But, to Ophelia’s dismay, she and Abby aren’t a typical grandmother/granddaughter duo. She possesses psychic powers, and Abby is a kindly witch. And while Ophelia would do anything to dismiss her gift — harboring terrible guilt after her best friend was killed and she was unable to stop it — threatening events keep popping up, forcing her to tap into her powers of intuition. To make matters worse, a strange — yet devastatingly attractive — man is hanging around Ophelia’s library, and no matter how many times she tells him she’s sworn off men forever, he persists. Soon this handsome newcomer reveals he’s following a lead on a local drug ring, and then a dead body shows up right in Abby’s backyard. And much as Ophelia would like to put away her spells forever, she and Abby must use their special powers to keep themselves, and others, out of harm’s way.