Dark, Witch, and Creamy

Title: Dark, Witch, and Creamy (Bewitched by Chocolate MysteriesBook One)

Publisher: Wisheart Press

Author: H.Y. Hanna

Pages: 292pp

Price: $11.99 / 99 cents

Caitlyn de la Fey is the adopted daughter of the famous singer, Barbara de la Fey — a fact which Caitlyn only discovers after her mother’s death. Determined to learn more about her origins, and maybe even find her birth family, Caitlyn heads out into the British Cotswolds. There, she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation; befriends the village chocolatier, Widow Mags (who may or may not be a witch); and catches the eye of the handsome young lord of the manor. And, while she does not discover much about her birth family, Caitlyn does find out something extraordinary about herself …. namely, that Caitlyn herself is a witch ….

As much as I love cozy paranormal mysteries, I am hesitant to try new titles. There seems to be a certain sameness to so many of these stories. Happily, Hanna’s Dark, Witch, and Dreamy proved to be a nice change of pace.

Caitlyn is an appealing protagonist. Having grown up all over the world while her mother pursued a singing career, Caitlyn is down-to-earth, pragmatic, and curious. Despite her relative wealth, she is not an elitist or snob; she quickly befriends people of many different socio-economic classes, and has no patience for bullies. Her best friend is her cousin, Pomona, an elegant and vivacious woman whose interest in witchcraft and Paganism confuses Caitlyn; at least until Caitlyn discovers her own witchy heritage and turns to Pomona to help her accept the sudden change to her life.

The secondary characters are just as appealing, with backgrounds that are hinted at, and will (I hope) be more fully fleshed out as the series progresses. There is Viktor the vampire, who claims to be a Guardian and is sworn to protect Caitlyn. Also, Bertha and Evie, the daughter and granddaughter respectively of Widow Mags; witches themselves, Bertha lives in fear of discovery while Evie just wants to have fun with her magic. And James Fitzroy, the local lord, who cares for the people of his district and wants to do right by them.

And then, of course, there is the chocolate. So much delicious chocolate. Widow Mags is an amazing chocolatier. Her confections are so wondrous that the locals suspect her of using “dark magic.” Not true. Widow Mags is a deeply ethical witch, and her chocolate is delicious because she is just that good.

The mystery itself is also engaging, and the identity of the murderer took me by surprise. Hanna did a good job of sprinkling the text with red herrings and leading me down the wrong path.

Dark, Witch, and Creamy is a fun start to an on-going cozy paranormal mystery series. I look forward to watching Caitlyn develop her abilities, uncover long-buried secrets about her birth family, and (maybe) pursue romance with James Fitzroy. Recommended to fans of Gretchen Galway’s Sonoma Witches series, the Ordinary Magic series by Devon Monk, Annette Marie’s The Guild Codex, and the Beatrice Hyde-Clare cozy mysteries by Lynn Messina.

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her poems and short stories can be found there.]