“I was still the most beautiful woman in Pumpkintown and my sisters were my only rivals. Our love for each other kept us strong.”
– Pumpkintown Perils: A Cozy Mystery Collection, Location 205
There has been a murder, and Wanda Tempest is on the case. She owns a magic supply shop, practices witchcraft, drinks too much, dances, and struggles with a weakness for attractive men. Shes also a part-time, Private Investigator. Together with Police Inspector Sam Shamrock, an overweight leprechaun, she is hellbent on finding the murderer.
Talking trees, evil gnomes, murderous wood trolls, and homicidal humans will keep Wanda and Sam fighting for justice, and their lives. Troublesome twin sisters, a crazy great-aunt, a kiss that shouldn’t have happened, and a spoiled Siberian cat with a smart mouth all guarantee that Wanda’s life remains full of surprises. As long as Sam doesn’t drink too many Irish Coffees everything usually works out.
There is a very easy flow in this first person narrative. There was a decided lack of grammatical errors, which was a welcome change. I struggled to connect with the characters, largely due to a sense of immaturity in supposedly adult players.
“I needed to draw all of the trolls’ attention away from their man-flesh meal. I didn’t notice any female trolls in the village so there was a good chance the males could be easily seduced. There was only one way to find out. I climbed up on a wooden platform and began to dance, shaking my voluptuous chest and moving my curvy hips to an imaginary musical beat.” (Locations 615-617)
“Alice and Amber looked marvelous, with their long golden curls and flawless makeup. Alice wore a tiny black dress and Amber flaunted a blue evening gown that matched her eyes. I was in my favorite red dress that probably revealed a little too much of my chest. But I wanted to treat Sam to a special night for all his support and friendship. He would not be getting another kiss from me so at least I could offer him something enticing to look at. Once again I proved my judgment isn’t always the best. (Locations 896-899)
This was entirely not my cup of tea. I hated the characters, the first person writing style was not the correct choice, and the mix between fantasy and reality was too stark. The narrative felt extremely rushed at time, almost as it the author was trying to get us through a sprint. The plot was rather obvious and the protagonist, Wanda was entirely superficial.
I really didn’t enjoy the general portrayal of women in this book. All the tropes that some people still chose to believe were present. Like, women using their beauty to manipulate men, women using their beauty to keep men that they find useful in the “friend-zone”, women being ridiculously petty with each other because of a man, etc. No doubt, there are women in the world who are exactly like this. My problem is that ALL the female characters in this book came across in this was, and as highly superficial and immature.
I’m not really a fantasy reader but I love a good murder-mystery, so I was hoping that I would find this enjoyable from that perspective. The investigative aspect of this book was weak, with little to no care being paid to the procedural correctness set out in the book itself. Especially when there was no reason to break protocol, other than the characters ego getting in the way. It felt like this was trying the be the literary version of Hoodwinked. The humour felt similar but unlike the Little Red Riding Hood caper, this simply fell flat. I don’t think that the books PG-13 rating did it any favours either. I kept reading, and thinking that teens would be reading this and possibly take these tired caricatures of men and women to heart.
I have no doubt that there are those of you out there that will enjoy this sort of book, and that’s ok. For those of you who are more like me, and need something extra, try Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon (linked below). It’s captured the right sort of humour, the ridiculousness, and the murder-mystery angle but blended it all into an impossible to put down read.
My rating: 2½/5
Buy Pumpkintown Perils: Vol. 1 on Amazon.
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