Review: Pawsitively Poisonous (Book #1: Witch of Edgehill Series) by Melissa Erin Jackson

44161129. sy475 Amber Blackwood, lifelong resident of Edgehill, Oregon, has earned a reputation for being a semi-reclusive odd duck. Her store, The Quirky Whisker, is full of curiosities, from extremely potent sleepy teas and ever-burning candles to kids’ toys that seem to run endlessly without the aid of batteries. The people of Edgehill think of the Quirky Whisker as an integral part of their feline-obsessed town, but most give Amber herself a wide berth. Amber prefers it that way; it keeps her secret safe. But that secret is thrown into jeopardy when Amber’s friend Melanie is found dead, a vial of headache tonic from Amber’s store clutched in her hand. 

Edgehill’s newest police chief has had it out for Amber since he arrived three years before. He can’t possibly know she’s a witch, but his suspicions about her odd store and even odder behavior have shot her to the top of his suspect list. When the Edgehill rumor mill finds out Melanie was poisoned, it’s not only the police chief who looks at Amber differently. Determined to both find justice for her friend and to clear her own name, Amber must use her unique gifts to help track down Melanie’s real killer. A quest that threatens much more than her secret …

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: NetGalley and Ringtail Press          Rating: 3½/5 stars

Amber Blackwood is the local witch whose “enhanced” toys have all the local kids clamoring for her latest invention.  Her dragons can fly and breathe fire, her cats can run and play, and her peacocks can shake their tail brilliantly colored tail feathers.  While the kids are fascinated with Amber’s toys and often convince their parents of the “need” to possess the newest creation, none really know it’s magic that enlivens their greatest possessions. 

In addition to her toys, Amber also uses her skills as a witch to aid the locals with their general aches and pains.  Her knowledge of herbs and plants coupled with her magic allow Amber to truly help those in need, even they don’t know all the details of her tinctures and solutions.  It is exactly one of these tinctures that puts Amber in the local police chief’s cross hairs following the death of her best friend!  As if it weren’t bad enough losing her best friend, the small vial Amber gave to her friend to help with her headaches was found clutched in her cold, dead hand.  While Amber knows, beyond doubt, her tincture didn’t cause her friend’s death, the local police chief isn’t so sure and has Amber in his sights. 

With an aim to not only find out who hurt her friend, but also to clear her own name, Amber sets out to discover the truth of her friend’s murder.  Living in a small town, everyone seems to know everyone else’s business so Amber isn’t lacking for information regarding her friend and her movements in her final days.  While Amber thought she knew her friend, the information she’s uncovering tells a very different story.  With something of a secret life both before and after coming to Edgehill, Amber’s friend may have gotten herself in over her head and Amber had no idea she was in trouble.  Every question asked and every answer given brings Amber closer to the killer’s true identity and what she uncovers is a tangled web of lies, deceit, betrayal, jealousy, and evil.

 The Bottom Line: While I liked this first-in-a-series book, overall, I found it to be quite simplistic and somewhat predictable.  While that may sound like a total negative, it really isn’t for me.  I don’t always look for books with complex and complicated plots and characters; sometimes, I’m looking for a book that doesn’t require much of me beyond sitting, reading, and enjoying.  I got exactly what I expected and was looking for with Pawsitively Poisonous.  Amber is a fine main character with loads of potential to be a very interesting, fun, and quirky character and she and the series evolve.  Edgehill is just the kind of setting I enjoy with a small-town vibe, an emphasis on cats (YAY!), and a witch with nothing but good intentions.  In all, I did like this book with its simplistic and not overly complicated plot, but, if the series is to survive and be truly successful, it is going to need to evolve.

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