Shifting and Shenanigans (Magical Mystery Book Club, #1) by Elizabeth Pantley
Imaginative and engaging cozy paranormal mystery featuring a mysterious library and magical book club.
On her 30th birthday, her divorce became final, and Paige Turner reverted back to Paige Erickson. Well, at least THOSE jokes would stop. But when her fun Aunt Gloria (call me "Glo") showed up with champagne to toast her new freedom, all her melancholy feelings evaporated with the fizzy bubbles. The regrets lifted only briefly because, in the next breath, Glo announced that GeeGee, Paige's great-grandmother, had unexpectedly passed away.
GeeGee had owned and operated the quaint Snapdragon Inn about five hours away, and she had willed the place to Glo and Paige. It didn't take much convincing for the two women to pack up their lives and move to Cascade Valley to take over management of the inn and a mysterious library mentioned in the will.
The Snapdragon Inn was much as the women remembered from their past visits. All reservations had been canceled at GeeGee's death, so the place was empty except for a temporary caretaker who handed over the keys and left. Things in the kitchen were a bit disorganized, but the two quickly set things to rights. However, the library soon proved to be a fantastic surprise.
The library was located a couple of stories below ground, and the women were astonished when they opened its locked door. The room was two levels high and contained thousands of books, all cozy mysteries. But this wasn't the biggest surprise. That honor belonged to the cat, Frank, who appeared from among the stacks. Frank could talk.
One of the first things Frank explained was that the library owner was required to host a weekly meeting of a mystery book club consisting of eight and only eight members. Glo and Paige were automatically two of the required membership and now needed to recruit six more.
The new book club's first meeting was a potluck, and the new members turned out to be a diverse group of interesting people and personalities. After a quick look on the shelves, each member found a book to propose for their group's first reading selection. The idea was to read the book's back blurb, but the one Paige had picked up didn't have one, so she opened it and read aloud from the first page. Suddenly, the members were magically transported to the scene Paige had read, and just as in the book, an old man was shooting at them and yelling for them to get off his property.
Scrambling to safety, it was then that Frank felt it was appropriate to explain that one shouldn't read aloud from the books until a final selection had been made. He also added that one of the first rules of the book club was they couldn't return home until the book's mystery was solved!
Shifting and Shenanigans, the first book in Elizabeth Pantley's new cozy mystery series, Magical Mystery Book Club, was a complete and total and happy surprise. I loved the premise that the book club group would be plopped down at the beginning of whichever mystery they had selected and seamlessly incorporated into the story. As Frank and one other member were hold-overs from when GeeGee ran the club, little tidbits of information about how things worked in the past kept coming to light.
I particularly enjoyed the discussion of how the writing style of the author of the selected book determined how the members saw or experienced the book's setting and other characters. If the author was very descriptive of the surroundings or spent a lot of time developing characters, the club members experienced a much more vivid and detailed setting, and the book's characters were more complex in their interactions with the group.
I liked how the story written in their copy of the book was only as complete as the group's progress. Also, if the cozy mystery had paranormal aspects, the possibilities for what the club members might find in the story were greatly expanded.
The club's investigation into the murder was simple and straightforward, but after establishing the foundational plot about the book club and the library, we don't really know much about the different club members themselves yet. Character development is a bit thin. But what we get is quite engaging, and I'm already looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Vampires and Villains.
I recommend SHIFTING AND SHENANIGANS to cozy mystery readers who would enjoy a very imaginative paranormal storyline.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.