Review: Hex Marks the Spot

Hex Marks the Spot
Hex Marks the Spot by Madelyn Alt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here we are into the third entry into the Bewitching Mystery series. So what’s Maggie into this time? The murder of an Amish ladies’ man, one who’s married and has young kids, at that. She also has struggles with her love life and is overcoming her fear of the “unknown” and becoming more adept at using her gift.

May contain minor spoilers of previous books.

A few times throughout this short book (246 pages), I felt like throwing in the towel. After reading the first book, I really felt this was a series for me. One that I connected with and would be able to read book after book. Sadly it has not panned out this way. Mostly because of the main character, Maggie O’Neill, who I really liked in the first book. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with her, I cannot relate to her and I don’t like her too much either. She’s rather a dull fish. Also, some of her thoughts feel forced, especially the “humorous” kind, which might be a big part of why I’m not liking her anymore. Well, whatever it is exactly, she’s just not quite working for me. Though now that she’s using her gift more, this may liven her up in the future, I don’t know. The other thing is her presumptions, or rather the one presumption about the “relationship” between Marcus and Liss she’s had since the first book. Where she ever got that idea in her head, I haven’t a clue, but at least it was resolved by the end of this book. On the up side, she wasn’t as dumb as in the previous book, A Charmed Death. All the other characters in the series I like and feel really add to the series, with maybe the exception of Tom, who is very closed-minded and basically just irritates me as a modern woman. I suppose a character who is that way is needed, and he is making some strides in opening his mind to new and frightening (to him) things, but I don’t get Maggie’s attraction to him; it just has not come across in the three books I’ve read. As for Maggie’s other love interest, Marcus, while he’s definitely way (way, way, way, way, way) more interesting than Tom, and I’m going to flip this, but I totally don’t understand Marcus’s interest in Maggie. I cannot think of anything that would intrigue him about her. I honestly can’t, other than she’s nice. A nice, boring, girl-next-door-type. Well, I guess that’s something. So, the mystery…. Surprisingly, it seemed very minimal in this installment and the baddie very easy to figure out since there wasn’t many, or any, other suspects. Still, it was tied up pretty neatly and made some sort of sense.

At the beginning of every book there is enough of a recap of characters and what’s been going on so each book in the series can easily be read by itself, and not necessarily in order. While that is nice for a new reader or one who has gone a long time inbetween books, it makes for a repetitive nature if read too closely together, so I think it’ll be a while before I pick up the next entry.

Library copy.

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Review: A Charmed Death

A Charmed Death
A Charmed Death by Madelyn Alt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This second installment of the Bewitching Mystery series focuses on the murder of a popular teenage girl who may have been hiding a seedy secret or two. Maggie delves into the case, while also developing her newfound powers and going on her first N.I.G.H.T.S. investigation.

After the slow-moving first seventy to eighty pages that was mostly background information on the town, the shop, characters and a recap of the last book, the story actually moved onto the main mystery in this book. I found the mystery very intriguing and well-done (I could easily envision it on TV, heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had seen a similar story-line), and the author shed more light on Marcus, which was nice, but was also detrimental to other secondary characters, namely Felicity (a.k.a. Liss, which the first time Maggie mentioned that nickname I forgot for a minute who she was referring too. That probably should have been clarified more, I may have read the first book less than a month ago, but I can’t remember everything and it’s not like it’s Melissa/Liss which I would have picked up on immediately. :P). So less Felicity, and also Steff and Tom, surprisingly enough. Any interaction Maggie had with Tom was strained, sometimes strange, and there was a bit at the end I didn’t buy in regards to the two of them. Maggie herself was exactly the same as in the first book, except a bit dumber but I’ll come to that a moment, so that disappointed me. It’s not as if I expect her to grow every book, but a little development here and there or something new we didn’t know about her wouldn’t hurt. Although her development of her ‘powers’ has been nicely and realistically done and the only problem I had was a scene at the end that seemed more magic than magick. Now we come to Maggie doing a couple of stupid things I never thought she’d be dumb enough to do, one of which led to her ‘showdown’ with the murderer. In that instance, she really had no need to do what she did to get him/her arrested or for any reason. It just seemed a contrivance to put her in the murderer’s path. Overall, after the first fourth or so of the book, it was a decent yet flawed read, and I am going to pick up the next in the series with the hope that any minor problems I had will have been just a fluke.

Library copy.

(Clicking on the book cover image or title take you to the book’s product page on Amazon)

Review: The Trouble With Magic

The Trouble With Magic
The Trouble With Magic by Madelyn Alt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
February 20, 2012

Book Description

Double, double, toil and murder…Bringing a little culture to Stony Mill, Indiana, Enchantments is one of the area’s finest antique stores. But shop clerk Maggie O’Neill and her employer Felicity Dow do more than conjure up curios for the locals—they each possess a talent for spellbinding sleuthing . . .

Bored with her office job, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to work at Enchantments. She was a little weirded out when Felicity described herself as a witch, but if her boss wants to play with broomsticks and cauldrons, where’s the harm? However, Maggie’s first day on the job may turn out to be her last when Police question Felicity in the murder of her estranged sister.

With everyone in town proclaiming Felicity’s guilt faster than the Salem Witch trials, Maggie finds herself wondering if she’ll also be tied to the stake. And lately, she’s been receiving messages on a spiritual frequency guiding her to prove Felicity’s innocence—and to embrace her own “charmed” life.

My Review

A well-written, engaging mystery with a protagonist, Maggie O’Neill, I (mostly) connected with and a plot nicely developed. The author did a good job setting up the series while maintaining the mystery within and developing Maggie and her quirks. Easy to read and smartly paced, with an engaging writing style, I’ll definitely be picking up the next book in the series, if not all of them.

I own a used copy that I believe came from Bookmooch.

(Clicking on the book cover image or title take you to the book’s product page on Amazon)