A WITCH WITH A WHISK
As a new witch—not to mention owner of Savannah’s most enchanting bakery—Katie Lightfoot is still getting used to casting spells, brewing potions, and mastering her magical powers. But that doesn’t mean she can’t find time to enjoy a picnic with firefighter Declan McCarthy…until she stumbles upon a corpse.
The dead man’s tattoo reveals he was a member of a secret society—and it turns out he's missing an object that was very important to the group. When Katie learns the killer was after more than the man's life, she and her Aunt Lucy leave the baked goods on the rack to cool and set off in hot pursuit of a killer.
For fans of: Shirley Damsgaard, Heather Blake
Katie Lightfoot and her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben run a successful bakery in downtown Savannah. She and Lucy are also practicing hedgewitches – “green witches with a special affinity for herbal craft and cooking.” Katie’s new to the Craft, having just learned of her powers upon her arrival in Georgia, but she’s a quick study and is genuinely enjoying her new, happy, magic-filled existence.
Or, rather, she was enjoying it – until she and her friend Declan stumbled across a corpse while picnicking in the park. The dead man has a strange tattoo on his forearm – a tattoo Katie later learns indicates the victim was a member of a group of druids known as the Dragoh Society. Unlike the coven to which Lucy and Katie belong, the Dragohs aren’t adverse to the practice of dark magic, and it turns out the murdered man had in his possession a collection of very rare and very dangerous books – one of which is now missing. The contents of the purloined tome suggest that its new owner is up to no good. Can Katie and company catch the criminal and prevent him or her from unleashing even greater evil upon the world – or by meddling, are they dooming themselves to become the killer’s next victims?
Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti is the second of Bailey Cates’ Magical Bakery Mysteries, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read. The plot is intricate and engrossing, and Cates does a great job of establishing the stakes early on and then continuing to raise them over the course of her tale. The book’s got a strong sense of place, virtually transporting you to autumn in Savannah – a city that in Cates’ hands is at once warm, welcoming, and genteel, yet also sultry and mysterious. And Cates’ world-building skills are top-notch; it’s clear she’s put a lot of thought into the magical world that Katie and the rest of her coven inhabit, and she does a marvelous job of bringing that world to life on the page.
Katie and her coven practice a very natural, Mother-Earth-y kind of magic – benevolent to the core – and Cates does a nice job of setting up their belief system and then sharply contrasting it with the other magic being practiced in this story. Setting the light in opposition to the dark makes the dark appear all the more so, and has the effect of making the villain of Cates’ tale seem all the more sinister.
Perhaps the best part of Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti, though, is the story’s climax. Not many books truly stick their landings, but when you find one that does, it’s a glorious and wonderfully satisfying thing to behold. With her big showdown, Cates manages to not only wrap up her central mystery in grand and dramatic fashion, but she also throws in a couple of different plot twists that add shocking depth to characters that were merely two-dimensional for the bulk of the book. With just a single scene, Cates expands Katie’s universe in new and wonderful ways, and I, for one, can’t wait to see where she takes the series next.
Reviewed by Kat