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Snuffed Out (Magic Candle Shop Mysteries, #1) by Valona Jones 

When a good friend is wrongly accused of murder, the Winslow sisters desperately search for the real killer.

Tabby Winslow and her twin sister, Sage, work hard to keep their family business, The Book and Candle Shop, afloat. While Tabby created the signature candles they sold, Sage did all the purchasing and bookkeeping. With their one employee, super salesman Gerard Smith, they were just managing. But when a disagreeable customer Gerard had a confrontation with only days earlier is found murdered, the police take an unhealthy interest in him as their prime suspect. 

Snuffed Out is a fun and unique new cozy mystery by Valona Jones and kicks off her new series, the Magic Candle Shop Mysteries. The magical element is provided by the two sisters, who are “energetics” and have the ability to absorb and manipulate energy. One twin, Sage, is comfortable and confident in her skills. However, due to a traumatic event in her past, Tabby is not. She blocks her abilities and refuses to tap into her special gift, and this causes some tension between the two sisters. 

The story is told from Tabby’s point of view. Her hesitancy to accept her energetic talents stems from an incident several years earlier, which almost resulted in her killing someone with her power. That incident is never fully explained; only bits and pieces are revealed as the current story unfolds. In fact, there are a couple of backstories hinted at but left unexplained, which had me feeling so strongly that I had missed a previous book that I quit reading to research whether that was true or not. Perhaps, these stories will come to light in future books. 

Sage Winslow is a complicated character with hidden secrets or worries left untold at the end of the book. Early on, she’s very moody: one minute, a loving sister, and the next, an almost evil thing. She and their store clerk, Gerard, have a romantic history that continues to cause her some heartache. 

The murder investigation was compelling, with many friends and acquaintances of the Winslow sisters involved. There is even a missing chihuahua to consider. I enjoyed the candle shop business, the descriptions of candlemaking, and the various other items the girls stocked in the store. The story also focuses on the subplots of the sisters’ budding romances, both with young men they have known since childhood. There are adult situations with discussions about their hookups, but it was still sweet watching Tabby navigate the change in her relationship with Quig from childhood friend to grown-up man and friend with benefits.

Central to this story is the lovely and historic Savannah setting. The Book and Candle Shop is in the heart of downtown’s historic district, a great draw for tourists. I like the mention of the various other businesses with their living spaces above that are neighbors to the Winslow’s shop. 

With its unlikable murder victim and tense push-pull sibling relationship, I recommend SNUFFED OUT to cozy mystery readers who like candle or bookshop-related settings or stories set in the southern US, specifically Savannah, Georgia. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

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