Title: Chili Cauldron Curse (Kitchen Witch Mysteries Book One)

Publisher: Kensington

Author: Lynn Cahoon

Pages: 102pp

Price: $2.99

Taking a break from her work at a trendy restaurant, Mia Malone (kitchen witch extraordinaire) heads home to Magic Springs in Idaho. There, she joins her grandmother in helping to set up a food bank. But when the local coven leader is murdered, suspicion falls on Mia’s grandmother and threatens to destroy all of their hard work with the food bank. Can Mia solve the mystery, without revealing the existence of magic to outsiders?

Well-written cozy paranormal mysteries are hard to find, and I had high hopes for Chili Cauldron Curse — particularly since the characters explicitly reference the Goddess on several occasions. Their witchcraft is not secular; it is part of a deeply felt religious tradition.

Unfortunately, the mystery just wasn’t there. Yes, there was a murder. And Mia wandered around asking a few questions. But her investigation goes nowhere, and she learns little that is useful. And then — spoiler!! — she stumbles right into the murderer confessing to someone else. And the murdere wasn’t even someone on her suspect list. The resolution was a serious letdown, feeling rushed and incomplete.

I am sorry to say that, despite it’s Pagan-friendly storyline, I can’t recommend Chili Cauldron Curse. The story felt flat and incomplete, and filled with stock characters. Instead, check out The Wiccan Wheel Mystery series by Jennifer David Hesse, The Enchanted Garden series by Bailey Cattrell, and the Lady Bast mysteries by Rosemary Edghill.

[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]