Alexandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.
Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.
Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.
Alex Daniels has spent her life in the dark: in the dark about how her mother really died, in the dark about her mother’s family, and in the dark about her own connection to magic. Alex’s father was determined to never allow his daughter to succumb to the same fate as her mother and in an effort to protect her, he has inadvertently cut her off from the only people who can truly help her, her mother’s family.
In the wake of her father’s death, Alex has decided to reconnect with her mother’s family and spend some time in Bellamy Bay. The quaint little seaside town is just what Alex needs to soothe her soul and her mind and help her decide what her next life steps should be. Not one to lay about or shirk her responsibilities, Alex agrees to help her aunt and cousin in their small herbal apothecary. Though Alex doesn’t particularly believe in magic and woowoo, magic and woowoo believe in her and she quickly discovers there is far more to her family than she ever suspected.
As if her life weren’t already changing at the speed of light, the knowledge of her family’s gifts also comes with a terrifying murder that her aunt is accused of committing. Though she’s no detective, Alex can’t allow her aunt to be falsely accused of murder, so she begins poking about and asking questions. Trouble is, Alex is the new kid in town and her poking takes her to places her mother fought hard to keep her from, like magic and woowoo and old and dangerous family rivalries. Determined to help, Alex not only takes a more active role in the family business, she also begins training to control and wield her magic so that she might clear her aunt’s name.
Magic, like murder isn’t something to be trifled with and as Alex quickly learns not all wielders of magic have good intentions. Alex’s investigation brings her into contact with one of Bellamy Bay’s oldest and most powerful family’s, a family she learns has no love for her own family and a grudge that has been passed down through the generations. Unfortunately, to unveil the actual culprit of the crime, Alex must work with at least one member of the rival family and though trust is at a premium, she has to trust someone in order to get the help she needs. As she comes ever closer to discovering the truth, Alex also comes closer to true danger and as a new magic wielder, she may not be totally equipped to handle what she’s facing.
The Bottom Line: What a fun new series for me! This one has all the stuff I love about cozy mysteries: a quaint, small town setting, a wonderful little business that isn’t at all what it appears to be, characters with power and secrets, and a plot that took me into the history/backstory of the characters and town. Everything sort of comes together in this first-in-a-series read and I was delighted with the outcome. There’s a lot to be had in this book and much of what is thrown at the reader – especially the backstory and history – is in an effort to set up future books and plot lines. I can see a ton of potential and room for growth in this series and its characters and I sincerely hope that is what will come to pass.