Welcome to Harlot Bay, home to the Torrent witches along a small coast where the magic convergent seems to play havoc on the weather on any given day. We’re joining Harlow, our main character – resident journalist for an online newspaper for the town (employee roster 1) and Slip Witch, just in time for the Butter Festival.
When one of the competitors at the festival is murdered, Harlow will stop at nothing to try and find out who the murderer is. And this is all between trying to keep her online newspaper going, managing her highly caffeinated cousins, meddling mom and aunts, and a great aunt who loves to craft things in an underground, hard-to-find laboratory. It’s enough to tire anyone out, really.
– – – – Possible Spoilers Below – – – –
Note: I have seen some of the reviews that say it’s very similar to another Witch series because it has similar family and romance setups. I do have that first book in my library to read soon™, but haven’t read that series as yet. So all I can voice is my opinion based on this book itself. Though to be fair to the author, you can have a similar setup or plot idea and still have a book unfold in a completely different way. I and a few other authors actually proved this when we all took the exact same starting theme and each wrote our own shorts. The stories, while stemming from the same idea starting point, were very different because of the point of view we each wrote from, our style of prose, and where we took the stories.
Overall, I really loved this story. Harlow is interesting, as is her whole family dynamic. She’s one of three cousins, and her family – her cousins, her mother, and her aunts – all live in a large house that’s been in the family for ages.
I enjoyed our introduction to the town, Harlot Bay, as a dying seaside town, which was once a favorite destination of pirates for a specific reason (cough cough). She informs us that the town used to be a tourist trap that’s been slowly dying, which is also where the Butter Festival comes in. As a push to continue to keep Harlot Bay on the map as a must-visit, the town is hosting this international festival. The idea of an entire festival dedicated to butter – down to a butter carving contest. Yes, you read that right, butter carving. It’s like your ice festivals where you have super famous ice carvers come in and use chainsaws to sculpt the ice into these completely fascinating and intricate statues, only it’s butter.
When Harlow stumbles across the dead body of one of the contestants, drained of its blood by magical means, she takes it upon herself to try and figure out who the murderer is and why they took the blood. But things aren’t so easy when you have a couple suspects and a town filled with tourists for the festival milling about.
The Slip Witch concept is an interesting one and something that takes a little getting used to. The concept behind it is that Harlow’s magic fluctuates, though there’s no real reason for why it does. Just that when she’s least expecting it, she’ll go from a water witch to a fire witch. It also shifts her spell-casting ability, some spells will suddenly become harder to cast.
The ending of the book, I won’t spoil it, you’ll have to read it yourself, was a really interesting way to go with handling the whodunit portion and the position it put Harlow in. And I can’t wait to see where this series goes.