M Z Andrews
That Old Witch!
When I started writing about ghosts, I figured I should learn more about the whole cozy paranormal genre. Witches, ghosts, shapeshifters and other denizens became my friends. And I began searching for authors who could help me learn the art of creating a good cozy paranormal novel.
One of my first choices was M Z Andrews’ That Old Witch! This is Book 1 of the Coffee Coven’s Cozy Capers.
That Old Witch! Follows the antics of a coven of witches in Aspen Falls, Pennsylvania. The coven was formed when the five talented witches were students at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. However, the coven soon broke up, when a special gift that was to be shared equally among all members of the coven was apparently stolen by one faction of the group.
Over the decades, the coven remained apart, until one day, one of the more talented of the witches, Katherine Lynde, dies. The reader knows she was murdered, but the members of the coven think she died an accidental death.
Even in death, though, Kat can still work her magic, and she brings the other four members of the coven back together. Phyllis Habernackle and Charlotte Baily had remained in Aspen Falls. Another witch, Loni Hodges, also stayed in Aspen Falls, but fearing persecution by the FBI, she remained in seclusion for decades. The last member of the coven, Gwyndolin Prescott, has been caring for her eccentric mother, Hazel in Arizona. When Gwyndolin gets a job back in Aspen Falls, the coven is forced back together. What is worse, they discover that they have to work with each other to recover the special gift that was central to their initial breakup – a tome of magical spells that can make a witch enormously powerful.
Two things intrigued me about this delightful story.
First, I was impressed with M Z Andrews’ playful development of the witches of the coven. Her characters are feisty and opinionated. They belittle each other over their looks, their declining magical abilities, and their foibles. All the while, they are reforming the bonds that made them a strong coven in their youth. They come together and discover the truth about Katherine’s death, and they work as a team to uncover one potential suspect after another.
Second, I liked the way M Z Andrews developed and solved the murder mystery. She introduced clues throughout the story, raised sufficient false flags to keep the reader searching for answers, and she finally brought the mystery to a good conclusion.
There were some things that left me bothered, however. I still have no idea why Loni Hodges lives in fear of the FBI. What is her past? Why does she hide away from everyone? And, more important, what does she and her cats talk about all day long?