After two stressful months, Amber Blackwood is determined to have a few weeks of peace before the Here and Meow Festival descends on her small town of Edgehill, Oregon. That peace doesn’t last long; when she and the committee attend a meeting at the mayor’s house, Amber is pulled aside by the mayor’s daughter, Chloe, who Amber babysat for in high school. The mayor has forbidden Chloe from dating, but she recently met an older boy through a chat app and is desperate to meet him. Amber advises Chloe to tell her father about the boy.
Hours later, Mayor Deidrick frantically puts in a call to Amber: Chloe, the always well-behaved teenager, seems to have snuck out her bedroom window—and now she’s not answering his calls. When Amber helps search the town for the girl, she happens upon Chloe’s abandoned car. Her driver’s side door is open, and while her purse is inside, her phone is gone.
Working alongside Chief Brown, Amber uses her magic to figure out what might have happened to Chloe. The more they dig, the more they unearth secrets from the seemingly affable mayor’s past. The charismatic politician has both a hair-trigger temper and a suspicious death linked to his past.
As if the mayor’s increasingly strange behavior isn’t bad enough, Amber and the chief also contend with an out-of-town private investigator, nosy reporter Connor Declan, and an even nosier population of Edgehill residents who start to question why Amber and the chief are spending so much time together. Undaunted by these obstacles, Amber races against the clock to help ensure Chloe doesn’t become another statistic—assuming the mayor doesn’t stop her first.
After the last few months, Amber Blackwood is ready for life to get back to normal. She’s survived a magical murder attempt, she’s learning to control her expanding magic, and she’s working on getting her reclusive cousin out into the world. Yeah, Amber is absolutely ready for life to get back to normal, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Edgehill is on the precipice of one of their biggest events, the Here and Meow Festival and Amber is actively involved in the events.
In the course of her duties related to the town festival, Amber finds herself at the mayor’s house for a meeting. During a break, Amber is approached by the mayor’s daughter, a long-time friend, about a personal situation. Though Amber wants to protect the young girl and keep her secrets, she encourages her to talk with her dad. As she walks away from the conversation and feels good about her advice, Amber quickly changes her mind when the young girl goes missing.
The mayor’s daughter missing is a big deal in any town, but in a small town like Edgehill, it’s far more personal. Edgehill has a tendency to care for their own which means the whole town comes out to help search for the young girl. Knowing he has an ace up his sleeve, the sheriff asks Amber if there is anything magical she can do to help find the girl. As a matter of fact, Amber can do something and with the help of her aunt and surly cousin, she is able to get glimpses of the young girl and knows she is not only still alive, but being fed, and given information about her case. Though Amber can’t see exactly where she’s being kept, she does get enough clues to keep the investigation moving forward.
With each new clue, both Amber and the sheriff have more questions and the questions lead them down a rabbit hole. The rabbit hole leads to fake identities, fake birthdates, an abusive relationship, and loving father willing to do anything to protect his child. Getting her back isn’t going to be easy, but Amber and the sheriff have a magical advantage and good old-fashioned determination to aid them in their search. Of course, no one can know of Amber’s involvement, but she doesn’t care about the recognition, only finding and bringing home a very scared young lady.
The Bottom Line: I generally liked this story but not quite as much as the second book. There are a great many twists and turns in this book and some of them were a bit of a stretch for me. With that being said, I was still very pleased with the continuing evolution of Amber and her circle. The sheriff is actually one of my favorite characters as he is working so hard to accept Amber and that acceptance is often rather humorous. Finally, the series is clearly still evolving as Amber has a nosy journalist on her trail and her help with the kidnapping case has only lit a fire under said reporter’s butt. More to come, to be sure!