Cover Image: A Spell of Murder

A Spell of Murder

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to like this book, but it had a few too many flaws for me.

At the beginning of the story, you are introduced to not only our main character Becca but her three cats and all the other members of the coven of witches. It's very confusing as to who is who. 

Also, the story is told from the perspective of the cats, which I thought was a lot of fun in theory but just didn't work for me. Also, there is a scene in where Becca discovers the murder victim and one of the cat's states how exciting that is because of its 'fresh meat'. I love cats (I am a card-carrying member of the Crazy Cat Lady Club), and I know they are animals but I found that to be very grizzly and a line that was not needed.

The murder and mystery almost felt like a secondary story and not fully developed. I'm sorry to say I just didn't love this one.
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Howdy, howdy!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or whatever it is you happen to celebrate)!  It’s the last Wednesday of the month (and year), so it’s time for another book review.  I looked for something festive, but ended up going with another cozy mystery.  For December, I got a hold of an ARC (advanced reader copy) of A Spell of Murder by Clea Simon, which was released earlier this month.  As usual, I must thank NetGalley and the publisher, Polis Books, for granting me access to this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  Now, let’s get to it!

A Spell of Murder is the first in the new Witch Cats of Cambridge series.  It follows Clara, a calico cat, and her two sisters, Harriet and Laurel, all of whom happen to be witch cats (yes, they are cats who can do magic).  They do their best to keep their “owner,” Becca, out of trouble as she embarks on a new adventure in her life.  Recently single and newly unemployed, Becca is on a mission to find herself.  She researches her family history and even joins a local coven.  But when a covenmate is murdered, Becca is pulled down the rabbit hole of wanting to find out what happened.  Her cats must help keep her out of trouble.  Whether out of love or the desire for more food and treats depends on which cat you ask.

You might be wondering why I said it follows Clara instead of Becca.  That’s because the book is (mostly) told from Clara’s POV.  It’s part of the reason I wanted to check this book out.  A murder story from a cat’s POV?  Sounds neat.  And it was.  But it slips out of Clara’s POV at random moments, which is jarring and occasionally really confusing.  For the most part, Clara finds ways to be in each scene, but a couple of times the POV just flat out changes to Becca because Clara isn’t around.  If this was a braided narrative set up so we expected the POV shifts, that would be fine.  But it’s not, so the shifts feel lazy.  An easy out when putting a cat in the scene is too difficult.

Other than that, the story is solid, if somewhat predictable.  I guessed at the murderer as soon as they showed up, but I also have a strong dislike of that type of person, so maybe it was just wishful thinking.  Correct wishful thinking, but still.  There’s a douchenozzle of a love interest, an actual love interest, an overzealous bestie, and a plethora of other characters you would expect in a story like this.  The most interesting characters are the cats.  Clara is all about loving and protecting Becca.  Harriet basically just wants food and treats and all the comforts she can get.  And Laurel simply likes drama, especially when it involves a man.  The humans are just kind of there.

The writing style is easy going and carries the reader along for the most part.  It tries to get you to follow it to awkward conclusions, instead of going with your gut.  That’s what cozy mysteries do.  The descriptions of the people in the book are pretty vague, which makes it a little difficult to separate them, but that’s how the cats see people.  It was interesting to see the world as a cat.  And it makes for a light, quick read.

Ultimately, it was an okay read.  I probably won’t go looking for future books in the series, but if I randomly run across them, I’ll flip through and see if anything has improved.

Overall, I gave A Spell of Murder three stars.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.  If you like magical cats and Hallmark channel murder mysteries, you might like it.  If not, you’re not missing much.
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I like books that are narrated by cats. I liked all three of the cats in this book. The cat magic is very interesting. I want to read the next book in the series.

I received a an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley for an honest review.
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I received this ARC via Netgalley in return for an honest review.   I give this story three stars.  The story is told from the point of view of Clara, one of three cats who live with Becca.  Clara is the youngest and often picked on by her two older cat siblings.  All three cats have magical abilities; Becca believes that she made a cushion materialize through magic one day, not realizing that one of her cats did so.  As Becca recently joined a local coven to explore the possibilities of magic, this leads to several coven meetings at Becca's home, with no results.  One of her coven sisters wants to discuss something important with Becca and, when Becca visits Suzanne, she discovers Suzanne's body.  Turns out that Suzanne had been involved with Becca's former boyfriend.  Along with a cast that includes all the members of the coven, the ex-boyfriend, Becca, Becca's best friend who doesn't believe in the coven or in magic, the three cats and various members of the police, there are a lot of people to keep track of in this story.  Ms. Simon does a good job with the world and the story she creates, along with the murder suspect rationales and the final murderers reveal.  My two quibbles - too many characters and, for me, two too many cats.  I really like Clara the cat; I would have preferred the story with just Becca and Clara and, ideally, fewer humans to keep track of.
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Thank you NetGalley and Polis Books for letting me read A Spell of Murder by Clea Simon for an honest review.  Al opinions are my own!

My first time reading that author, I don't regret it!

I give it 4 stars.  
I love cats!  I have 3 : Choupette, Tarzan, Fifille.  Evveryday I wish I could talk their language, they could talk to me...  And I love stories (and tv shows) about witches... 
I loved that story, short, well written, entertaining...  
I also loved the cover! 

Review shared online on NetGalley, Twitter, Goodreads...
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When I was this mystery listed, I knew I had to request it. Clea Simon writes cats very well. Plus, this is a new series and I'm always willing to try a debut mystery. A Spell of Murder didn't disappoint me. These three sister cats are wonderful creations. They are magical in more ways than one and Harriet is the one who causes big trouble when she is too lazy to move to an existing pillow and simply conjures up a new one. The timing couldn't have been worse because their human, Becca has been practicing spells to conjure a pillow.and now thinks she has true magical powers. When the coven she has recently joined meets at her apartment, she's on the spot to do it again. Later one of the members, Suzanne, is murdered, discovered by Becca. The police look at her as a suspect when Becca's ex-boyfriend turns out to have been dating Suzanne. To clear her name, Becca starts to investigate. Clara and her sister cats have their paws full trying to keep her safe.
Becca is a believable character, full of self doubt when she finds herself laid off and searching for direction. She falls under the spell of the handsome Trent, the leader and only man in the coven. While I liked the humans, the cats were the draw for me. The mystery was enjoyable but the cats were center stage, just the way they should be. This series is now on my want to read list.
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Becca, newly single and unemployed, wants to believe she has psychic powers. With nothing but time and a desire for empowerment, she's studying to become a witch. What she doesn't know is that her three cats, Harriet, Laurel, and Clara are the ones with the real power. When Harriet, a cream-colored long hair with more fur than common sense conjures a pillow for her comfort, Becca believes her spells are working. Could that be why Trent, the coven's devilishly handsome leader, has been showing her special attention? Or why Suzanne, a longtime coven member, draws her aside to share a secret, a confidence that may lead to murder?
Series: Witch Cats of Cambridge - Book 1
Author: Clea Simon  
Genre: Cozy/Witch Mystery
Publisher: Polis Books 

Clea Simon can write a good story, her books are normally interesting and well put together. Unfortunately, A Spell of Murder from Polis Books isn’t a winner. Although a unique idea, the book is told mainly from the perspective of three magical cats, it simply doesn’t give the reader enough insight into the m human character, Becca’s life and who she is. The story is a bit confusing, the action is practically non-existent, and Becca is far too meek to be a good lead or a likable one. There are times throughout the story when the reader has the urge to grab Becca and shake some sense into her.
The cats have distinct characteristics, but only the youngest, Clara is truly stimulating. The other two cats are self-centered and downright “bitchy.” They don’t care about their human and care even less about their younger sibling who appears to be the only one of the three that worries about their owner and what will happen to the three of them if she is sent away. If they were human, they would be the mean girls from high school. This might be a good combination for the story in the long run but can make it difficult for the reader to enjoy their antics and get past this first story.  
The actual murder is interesting but was also predictable. It was clear almost from the beginning who the killer would turn out to be. However, the motive is a bit underwhelming.  It is hoped that the first book in a new series would be stronger and more memorable. Many readers may well toss this book never to pick it up again. Regrettably, I cannot recommend A Spell of Murder. Perhaps the series if it continues will evolve and grow and become more exciting and more worthy of its author.

ARC provided by NetGalley
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The idea of the book was really awesome, cats who really were magical and talked to each other while their human thought she was a witch because of something one of the cats conjured up. I honestly felt confused the whole time I was reading, since a lot of the human dialogue consisted of who was dating which person. The back-and-forth dialogue between the cats, then the humans speaking had me needing to reread parts just to figure out what was going on at that moment. To me, it seemed like the murder was taking a back seat. 

I seriously wanted to like this book a lot more because cats are cool, and magical cats are just plain amazing.. But in all honesty, it simply didn't deliver--but I did like the cats at least. I was mildly curious about who the killer was, so I did my best and kept on reading. I'm not really interested in continuing the series. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.
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I love Clea Simon's books and I love the way she writes her cat characters.
The cat were the main characters in this book and they all were likeable and realistic, my favourite one is Clare.
This a books were the cats are the main characters and things that happen are seen through their eyes.
Their human, Becca, her dysfunctional wiccan coven and the other characters are interesting, Becca is also very quite and likeable, but they pale and if you can like them but you end up loving the three cats.
The mystery was interesting and kept me guessing till the end. I read this book as fast as I could because I wanted to know what was next.
It's also one of those book that makes you feel sad when they ends.
I look forward to reading the next instalment.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Polis Books and Netgalley for this ARC
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The blurb appealed. Cats as primary characters, not to mention witches enchanted.  A coven of human witches led by a warlock intrigued.

Harriet, Laurel and Clara are the three witch cats adopted by Becca, a self-described witch after responding to a flyer for “Witches: New & In Training”. Three months in the coven, Becca thinks she summoned a pillow while casting a spell. Only the cats know it was Harriet who broke all the rules by conjuring up the pillow in front of a human. Before the coven can get into how Becca ‘summoned’ the pillow with a spell, one of the members is murdered.

Unfortunately, the characters, feline or human, seem rather shallow and hard to like. The relationships are somewhat confusing among the human characters and just irritating among the felines. This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time a blurb generates excitement over a new book that does not quite live up to its hype.
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The statement that opens the book caught my attention and I immediately wanted to know what did Harriet do. To my surprise, the point of view featured in this tale are three felines who take care of their human owner, Becca. They are a mischievous bunch but it is all for good of their owner. Kudos to the author who somehow in her narrative made it happen where I never thought of the dialogue being spoken by cats. It was like they were the characters of the book and guiding me through the trials and tribulation of the events surrounding the murder of Suzanne when it appeared that Becca was a person of interest. I like the light-hearted atmosphere that accompanied the tone and flow of the story as the suspects were all present and accounted for and it was up to Becca and the help of her feline friends to find someone with a stronger motive among her friends. I like how the story was staged with good initial character development of those who had pivotal roles in the telling of this tale. Overall, this was a delightfully charming debut series.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  A good mystery has lots of moving parts.  I like when the clues are there but with a sleight of paw, the reader gets fooled.  There is a risk of having too much going on at time so that it all gets a bit jumbled.  Unfortunately, there were times in this book, I found myself having to go back and reread because things were too confused.  Which is a shame.
I liked the premise.  Three kitty sisters live with a human who has delusions of being a witch.  She belongs to a coven and tries all sorts of spells and incantations but the only magic being produced comes not from the humans but the kitties.  It turns out that Clara and her sisters are descendants of a witch cat who protected one of Becca’s predecessors.  A lot of this is revealed in the closing chapters of the book, meaning there will be more revelations in future stories.
Clara, the youngest and smallest cat, has her paws full trying to help her human solve the murder of another member of the coven.  Let me tell you, the romantic shenanigans going on in this coven are far more convoluted than a hairball.  Clara must help Becca without revealing the secret of their feline powers.  Her sisters are not in the slightest helpful.  In fact, both of them conjure things that only makes matters worse.  Initially it seems they revel in causing mayhem but the three finally work together at the end in the common goal of protecting their human.
I cannot say that I was bowled over by the book but there was enough to it that I will await the next instalment to see what direction it takes.  It will be the kitties who will bring me back.  
Four purrs and two paws up.
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I had high hopes for this book based on the description.  Hey, I love a good Cozy.  I love cats, I love a witchy theme for a cozy.  Those are the things that drove me to this book after reading the description. Unfortunately the first book into this new series was just did not deliver anything that makes me want to pick up the next one.  

Becca, a laid off library researcher with three cats, is a fledging witch. With three cats that actually do have magical abilities, the story is told from a cross between the cats and the human views.  Between the constant switching and the fact that this just didn’t resonate for me, I’m sadly having to give it one of the lower ratings I’ve ever given a cozy.  Getting through this book, because I kept hoping it would eventually click, was a struggle.  I will be passing on future entries to this series.
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Sadly, this book just wasn't my cup of tea. I couldn't get past the first chapter before I decided it was too silly.
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I enjoyed this book as my first Clea Simon novel. The formatting made it slightly hardee to read as there were no actual chapter breaks. The story was decent enough that I would carry on with this series.
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I was a little thrown at first as I've never read a book with a cat as narrator.  But it didn't take me long to fall under their spell.   Next time something odd happens in your life,  look to your cats!
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I am a huge fan of cozies and cats but this book just fell flat to me.
I found the human characters rather annoying and although the premise was promising, having the story told from the point of view of the cats just didn’t work for me.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, atmosphere, and characters.  I would recommend the book to friends and family for their reading pleasure.
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Clara the Cat May Be Small, But She's a Lion at Heart

This book is a charming cozy mystery with three cats and a lovely young woman at the center. It's an easy read and could be read by teens and young adults. It's well-written, and I didn't guess who the murderer was ahead of time. 

I particularly enjoyed how author has turned the usual formula for witchy cozies around and given it an original twist. The cats’ roles in the plot and relationships with each other will delight feline fans.
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The story was good and i love cats but the one was necessary so it made it confusing.
I would love to read more by author but not so busy in the writing
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