Private investigator, Jill Gooder, has been hired to find a serial killer because, as usual, the police can't buy a clue. Jill, the not so proud owner of a crazy, one-eyed cat, probably can't expect too much help from her PA/Secretary, Mrs V, who spends all day knitting.
And just in case all of that wasn't bad enough, Jill's just about to discover she's a witch.
I'm not really sure what you would call this particular sub-genre. I guess 'cute, quirky mysteries with a female sleuth who also happens to be a witch'. So when it comes to CQMWAFSWAHTBAW (err...that's the sub-genre) I'm usually a little disappointed.
Honestly the CQMWAFSWAHTBAW books are a little like Fords. They're unreliable, they generally don't make sense, and it doesn't matter if you're driving a 1971 Ford Pinto, a 1990 Ford Explorer or a 2016 Ford Mustang you'll end up frustrated.
But Ford did have their golden years....well maybe it was only 1 year...or rather it wasn't so much a year as a car. Ford did have a golden car. Just one. Not wishing to avoid superlatives, everything else Ford made, make and will make is crap.
The 1968 Ford Mustang.
In an ocean of crap...the 1968 Mustang somehow floats.
And that's what I think about Witch Is When It All Began. There is an ocean of these books and most of them are kind of dull, but this book somehow manages to fly. It really is good. Not perfect but good enough that I want to have a look at the second book. After that I'll make a decision as to whether I want to continue.
I was always told to start any critique with something positive, so... I'm positive I don't like this book.
Let me try again. I got this book for $.99. I'm happy I didn't pay more.
Okay, I'll try yet again. The premise is good. I like the basic storyline of a woman finding out she's a witch and having to meld that with her human life while keeping it a secret from her sister. That's about all I can say on the positive side. Oh no, maybe this, too..... I like Winky. Hate that she leaves him alone on the weekends, though. Who feeds the poor thing over the weekend? That's just cruel.
Now onto the real review.
There was very little story development. The "mystery" wrapped up so quick, it was like an afterthought. It would have been better to leave the murder mystery out of the story all together. It was just a distraction.
There is no chemistry between Maxwell and Jill. Move on. Drop that character.
The banter between the twins is annoying at best. It was not endearing. I wanted to smack them both. They need to grow up.
With all that, I will not be continuing with this series. I'm disappointed because I usually love kitschy, cute little mysteries.
4,25 stars - Free Ebook- I have dyslexia - That was the understatement of the decade. Mrs. V and Winky did not see eye-to-eye, and that had nothing to do with his defiency in the ocular departement. - Jill Gooder who is a P.I., a trade she learnt from her father, is adopted and has a sister Kathy who is married and has two kids. As a client asks her to look into the murder of his girlfriend, he mentioned that it is possible that their are two other murders connected to the murder of his girlfriend. In a very humorous way this book combines three story-lines. A murder investigation, the meeting of her birth-mother and family and the discovery she is a witch, and that she is in danger for the dark one and his followers. It is a real cozy mystery, easy to follow, full of humor, some mystery and detective work, not to mutch suspense. Like to read some more by this author. - It was now official. I was going crazy. I thought I'd heart the cat speak, and what was even worse, I'd awnsered him. -🌸🌹🌸
Take your average British sitcom and mix in the paranormal and you have this series. It's cute, quirky, original, and just a lot of fun to read, especially if you're a lover of British humor. The author also loves wordplay, though, word to the wise, some of it only works with regional British accents and/or knowledge of British slang, so if you feel like you just missed a joke, chances are you probably did. It took me a while for some of them.
These books are being pedaled as mysteries, and they are. Sort of. If you squint.
Admittedly, they mysteries are there. And they are both fully fleshed out and solvable by dropped clues. I solved several, missed others but could see where I went wrong. But they are small things, sometimes solved before the book is half over, so if you're looking for a meaty mystery read you won't find it here. Instead, the main focus of the book is on Jill's families, both old and new, and her development as a witch.
Woven throughout is the foundation mystery of the series--who The Dark One is and why he's after her. Five books in and the author is still lightly sniffing around that plotline, so don't expect t to go anywhere fast; the distinct impression received is that it won't until Jill is a bit more magically capable.
This is not a series that takes itself seriously. It contains a cat that does semaphore, a knitting receptionist, bickering twins, franken-monster beanie babies, the grandma from hell, a slightly OCD main character, and enough odd situations, running jokes, and strange, quirky characters to keep a reader smiling throughout. Each book is a light, fast, fun read, great to curl up with on one's downtime or after a hard day.
And the question of the hour--would I recommend these books to a friend? Absolutely!
I listened to this book on audible books and the narrator made it quirky and fun to listen to. She had a british accent and just the way she told it, and the predicaments she was in at times made me laugh, which felt good. Fun read. 😁
It's not the best thing I've read. There is a bit more telling that showing. The only reason why I ma giving it three stars instead of two is Jill is a pretty good character. She knows her flaws and her hang ups and doesn't really feel guilty about them.
This is such a cute little mystery story. The story is about Jill Gooder, a private investigator and budding witch, and the story follows her journey from learning she is a witch to solving the apparently unsolvable case of 3 murdered women.
The mystery itself is a cute, light hearted effort so it would be a great book to break into the genre. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered so there is lots of room and material to follow up with in the follow on books. There are lots of family members, friends and magical animals to keep things interesting not to mention a certain easy on the eye detective who has piqued the interest of our MC, but at present it is left unexplored.
The magical side revolves around Jill learning she is a witch and then her taking her first steps towards learning magic and her new magical family/ life. However, there is a reason that Jill’s magic was hidden and that is the ever looming threat of ‘The Dark One’ and his followers who are determined to track her down and steal her magic... or worse.
I really enjoyed the way the magic is weaved throughout the story without really overtaking the actual mystery. It’s a fun, lighthearted and easy to follow read, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely continue with the series.
The first England-based paranormal cozy I've read in a while, except for the Aunt Dimity series. Written in a light, entertaining style, with more than a few fourth-wall breaks. Likeable characters, a very sarky cat, and a fun take on magic. A little bit too obsessed with custard creams, though...
Overall, an easy, fluff read. It started out slow, it gained a bit of speed, but generally failed. Too many holes and too much jumping about.
Jill was an okay protagonist, a bit annoying at times and a bit wishy-washy. One minute she's dead set against being a witch, and then the next she's completely accepted it. One minute she hates her birth mother and the next she's completely accepted her . And her OCD is a bit much. Jack Maxwell is mentioned a lot, but has very few scenes. He is basically one-dimensional. And seriously, his socks had "Tweetie Pie" on them? I have never heard anyone refer to Tweety (the Warner Bros. cartoon bird, assuming that's what the author meant) that way. Tweetie Pie was the name of an animated short. The character's name is Tweety (unless the author was not referring to the cartoon but some British thing that doesn't mean anything in the U.S., but then give us some clue). Anyway, there were no explanations given as to his rude, gruff behavior. The rest of the characters were even less developed. I don't expect great character development in fluff books, and this one didn't disappoint. It's clear the author was going for amusing, funny dialogue, but that didn't quite work most of the time.
The plot left something to be desired. Jill is a PI and gets a chance at a big case. But then there are chapters where nothing happens. It's as if she didn't care about the case at all. But then all the sudden, BAM! Three murders solved in a few pages. Why bother having the mystery if there's not going to be any time developing it at all? The focus was mostly on her finding out she actually is a witch. But even that plot line was shaky at best. Doubt I'll bother with the next one.
Overall, maybe 2.5 stars, but that would be a stretch. Luckily. I downloaded it for free from Amazon Prime.
Obtained via Kindle Unlimited, and I'm glad I didn't strictly pay for it. Given a finished date as I read a fair bit of it, but it's going on my DNF pile. I'm too bored by the mediocre plot and irritated by the slapdash and hopelessly ungrammatical writing style to waste more time on trying to complete it. I have far too many books on my TBR list to waste time with reading something I feel reluctant to revisit.
I'm trying to not torture myself with books I'm not enjoying anymore. It's difficult. I don't think this is particularly bad it's just very silly and the writing is a little odd. I do like the premise but I just can't get into it. I tried to stick it out for Winky the cat but I just can't!
I wonder would I still love Sabrina the Teenage Witch now?
I began this book back in October what feels like forever ago. Since it was spooky month and I fancied something at least tenuously linked to Halloween. I first went with the Discovery of Witches because a friend was watching it and said it was great, but I couldn't even get through the preview. So this was kind of a spur of the moment choice. The premise kind of reminded me of the Dresden Files which I wanted to enjoy and probably would have done if I didn't find Harry Dresden so irritating.
Yeah this was nothing like that. I think I liked this less. So, as seems to be usual for my 2019 reading so far, I am going to complain about some stuff.
So the fact I've been reading this book since October will probably tell you how engaging I found it. I finished the book today as a kind of get it out the way so I could start Lies Sleeping (latest in my current favourite series) sort of thing. I'm going to be honest and say though I read 100% of the book according to my kindle I don't remember the plot. There was a serial killer. He was caught somehow. There were also a generic magical bad guy who was called something quite on the nose. I can't remember the name, but I'm guessing it was the Dark Guy or something. (I looked it up so as to be more accurate and it was The Dark One literally described as "The most evil sup[ernatural being] of all")
So apart from all the issues around weird, really invasive family dynamics; the amount of clichés; a personal dislike of the magic system; and the boring romance subplot all of which I'm sure I'll talk about in a bit, I think the reason why I didn't like this book was that it felt like the first episode of a tv series. That might sound like a weird complaint since it is the first book of its series so isn't this essentially the same thing? But I think the difference here is, most books that are the first of a series have a plot that builds and is then completed. Strands are left open for the next book but you still feel like you have a whole story.
So here you have two main threads. The first is that Jill is a witch and is being kept hidden because this somehow keeps her safe from The Dark One. There's also the serial killer plot, which is completed with Jill catching the bad guy(s) and showing up the stupid police, but this feels like a "villain of the week" kind of plot. It's the exact sort you'd see in the first episode of your police procedural show. Meanwhile it takes a ridiculous amount of time for our main character Jill to find out and accept she's a witch and the book is heavily interspersed with family scenes which often feel kind of intrusive.
Looking at the witch plot: Jill finally goes with being a witch which was a relief given how exhausting her heavy scepticism was. (I guess it was going for realism since Jill is shown to be pretty logical but it dragged on too long. When you know she's a witch because that's the whole premise of the series I found I just wanted the book to get down to the magic already). So on that you kind of get closure and the whole cliff-hanger/next-book-bait is scary grandma calling and saying Jill needs magic lessons with her. But the whole Dark One and his followers plot completely disappears. It's introduced to let Jill's mum off the hook for abandoning her, and then vaguely mentioned again in ways like Jill thinking her cousins (who are wearing hoods) are the Dark One's followers, however there is never any serious confrontation with the Dark One or his followers. I was expecting her serial killer case to somehow tie in with the magical bad guys, but nope.
Again it's what you might expect to see in a tv pilot - little hints of the series arching villain but no real confrontation yet - but it felt a little off in a book.
Thinking to the possible third thread of Jill's family this felt really odd to me. This family is super invasive. Jill has never met them before but after her mother's death these people force themselves into her life. They invite her over for dinners, invite themselves over to her flat, they want to celebrate their engagements with her, I suppose this is all relatively harmless sounding but it's done in a really pushy way. I mean they even buy her a dog. Seriously. They just get her a dog. I suppose at least they don't expect her to look after it - they say they'll do that for her - but they don't ask if she wants a dog. What if she wasn't a dog person? What if she had a phobia?
Her mother is another invasive example. She gave Jill up for saving-her-from-the-bad-guys reasons but wanted to watch her grow up. So she watches Jill as she grows up, knowing all about things including Jill's first kiss. If I found out somehow had been watching me all my life including private moments like my first kiss, I'd be furious. Jill just seems to kind of accept it - and even takes this spying as a sign her mother cares.
Next complaint: the magic. It didn't feel all that magical. I guess that's personal preference, but picturing a series of images just seemed kind of lame. The more serious issue I have is the rules seem incredibly arbitrary and there doesn't seem to be any ethical considerations about magic at all, except when there is and then that makes the rest of the times when there is no ethical considerations about magic even more obvious.
For example one spell Jill finds is a mind-reading spell. One of the stipulations of the spell is that it wouldn't work on any humans or sups under the age of 18. This raises several questions. Will it work on non-human/sups under eighteen? Why eighteen? Is there something about being a minor that makes brain chemistry different? Do you suddenly change when you get to eighteen and become susceptible to things like mind-reading? Is it more a general consensus that children should not have spells put on them, and they are written as straight up rules therefore but actually you could read a child's mind?
Another stipulation is it can only be done once a year. Why? How does the magic know if you do it more than once a year? What will happen if you do it more than once a year? I don't know. For a first series book that does a lot of worldbuilding there is simultaneously not a lot of worldbuilding done.
Back to ethical implications and while on one hand you have this stipulation that you aren't allowed to read kids minds, on the other as a method of keeping secret magic town Candlefield a secret it is suggested to Jill by a family member (her mum I think) that she just casts a forget spell every time her sister brings the town up. And Jill does quite happily. Just wipes her sisters memory. Okay it’s a mild memory spell - the victim just forgets what they are talking about - but still. This doesn't sit quite right with me.
Next complaint is the amount of cliches - I mean Dark One - and the boring love interest. There's not much to say here other than there's a lot of cliches and a boring love interest in the form of a police detective who doesn't like private investigators. I didn't like it very much but not enough to really write loads about these points. Oh except I will say that at one point Jill reads Love Interest's mind and finds out he wants to kiss her. There's those ethics again. Or rather the complete lack of them. There's not even a debate or thought about whether or not this is ethical/moral etc.
My final point on this book is one that may feel a bit nit-picky and, when I had a quick scan through of reviews before I impulsive brought this book, I was like oh come on it can't be that distracting. I was proven wrong. It is that distracting. What am I talking about? The setting. So this book is presumably set in England because at one point Jill describes a character as "a man who could bore for England". And there are some very English things: mention of custard creams, use of the word "flat" rather than apartment. But honestly even with those I kept thinking this was set in America. It wasn't just the PI thing which in reality we don't really have. Hey if there are witches why not PIs. Though I guess Private Detective sounds a little more natural to me, I won't split hairs.
No it was everything else. Even the place names - Candlefield and Washbridge sound to me American. I can't put my finger on why that is - we have those kind of -bridge/-field names but most feel a little more obscure maybe? To test this theory I did a quick sweep of the southern part of England on google maps and I did find a Staplefield but the rest of the names are those kind of a bit ridiculous typically English names: Pease Pottage, Faygate, Kirdford, Wisborough Green, Ewhurst, and Loxwood being some of my favourites. And okay I know nothing about American town names - maybe they are nothing like Candlefield and Washbridge. And I get it would be harder to make up names like Coneyhurst (another great name) and Petworth (fab) but this is just the foundation of a slew of things that feel more American to me.
We get a description of "identikit houses" which Jill says she sees in Washbridge (her hometown) as opposed to the city of Candlefield (magic town). That's weird to me because even though newer housing estates which are very much identikit, pretty much every town I can remember going to in this country is a huge variety of architecture, especially larger cities like Washbridge apparently is. Because another comparison between hometown and magic town is that "There were no skyscrapers; the tallest building I could see was no more than three stories high." Many of our smaller cities are pretty low lying so having no scrapers isn't noteworthy, though having no building more than three stories is high is outside of smaller towns and villages so the emphasis of the sentence and the way its phrased feels a little odd.
More egregious is when Jill meets her cousins they ask her is she's ever "shot anyone". Our police force don't typically carry guns - we do have armed police but they are a specialist section that I assume you have to call in for emergencies. Maybe - all my knowledge about the police force comes from the aforementioned Rivers of London series and I don't know if that's accurate to real life so… Anyway the point is that Jill as a private detective definitely wouldn't carry a gun nor have the opportunity to shoot someone. It's therefore such an odd question to ask.
This cultural confusion shouldn't impact the book, but it does somehow. It's a huge part of the world building that feels off. And since I have so many questions about magic too, this world just doesn't feel real to me.
Final point is that the climax of the novel is Jill solving the crime when the police have apparently caught the killer. This happens in two stages - the first being Jill working out the solution to two of the murders. We then pause and go on a shopping trip with Jill, her sister and her cousins. The point of this is so Jill can notice one of her cousin's engagement rings is too tight triggering her to solve the final murder but it still feels incredibly jarring to go from solved murder to a visit from the cousins. Anyway Jill realises the murderer was trying to force a ring onto his (ex)girlfriend's finger, and this is why her finger is swollen. I'm not any kind of medical expert. Maybe this would happen. But coincidentally I had a tight ring on today (I don't usually wear rings) and through the day it had worked its way down my finger and got stuck. I really had to yank it off. I mean at one point I thought it wasn't going to come off at all and I'd have to go hunt down the butter or something. After a good 30 seconds of tugging I finally got the thing off. My finger was neither red nor swollen.
I then got my smallest ring, a stacking ring intended for my little finger, and tried to force it as far down as it would go on each of my fingers in turn. And there's no way I could do it with as much force as someone else could do to me, but my fingers did in no way get red or swollen. Maybe I didn't do it long enough or something.
In summary this book wasn't what I expected. It was clear it was the first in the series and it seemed to be focused on and subsequently spent a lot of time setting things up, but I couldn't get invested in any of it. The birth family was pushy and invasive, magic didn't make sense, the culture clash was distracting. The story jumped too quickly and too randomly between the serial killer case and cutesy (supposedly) family meals and outings. The fact the Dark One didn't really show up was a disappointment and made me wonder why he was brought up at all.
Trying to maintain her private investigating business, Jill Gooder, takes on her largest case ever when she gets hired by a bereaved loved one to find the serial killer responsible for their fiances death. To top off her already enormous workload Jill finds out that biologically she's a witch and in danger of being targeted by an evil being known as the 'Dark One'. With her new book of spells, Jill sets out to find a killer and learn all about her new heritage in one fell swoop.
I really wanted to like this novel but found myself being disappointed over and over again with the abrupt writing style and the bizarre attributes Adele Abbott gave certain supernatural beings. The story started to fall apart for me, particularly when Jill is able to serve a ghost tea and biscuits. It's a ghost... It's transparent. Even if it could manipulate objects it shouldn't need actual food to survive. For me that just seems completely implausible. My other big problem with this novel was it's complete lack of sleuthing and/or actual detective work by its main character. This book at its core is supposed to be a mystery novel, but there was no investigating. Not until I was about 60% of the way through did Jill really grab the reins of her investigation and start going full steam ahead. But by then it was already too late for me and I couldn't bring myself to find any true redeeming qualities in Ms. Abbotts writing. I won't be reading the next book in this series.
The writing was clunky. Phrases used repeatedly. The premise was cute. However, the dialogue was trite. The characters were unoriginal. Mrs. V was your typical supporting character. I realize it wasn't supposed to be "believable" as it was pretty fantastical, but the main character was in such disbelief she could be a witch, then suddenly, she was just accepting of the fact... it doesn't usually work that way. Her mom visiting as a ghost was predictable. The mystery just wrapped up... no excitement, it was just suddenly over. Maybe the next in the series will be better, but I don't think I have the patience to find out. In short: terrible. Very few redeeming qualities, very little good about this book. The writing was just awful, much like you would find in a writing forum. I wondered at times if it was just pulled from a writing forum. (some very good things come from writing forums, this just wouldn't be one of them).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I’m not sure if paranormal cozy mystery is a new-ish genre, but this falls into that category. Jill is a PI in a small town in England. She learned the business for her adoptive father. Just as she’s ready to start a new case which involves a potential serial killer, she gets a call that her biological mother wants to see her. She was abandoned as a baby so this was a surprise, but even more surprising was the news that her mother passed on about her heritage.
Most of this book was focused on the impact of Jill’s mother’s revelations vs the actual mystery. As the first book a series, a lot of time was spent introducing the characters — some of which felt a bit repetitive. I did like Jill’s humor and I loved Winkie the cat so I’d be willing to read the next book. I listened to the audio and I will say that the narrator did not do male voices very well — they all sounded like she had a cold and not very british. However, I loved Jill’s accent and it was a mostly female cast.
Better than ok. Not by much, though. This is another paranormal cozy mystery series. The mystery is not that complicated. Jill getting her magic and learning spells was entertaining. Many of the side characters have distinct personalities.
It's a decent fluff piece and the first in a series. There are 32 novelas in the series so far. Based on reviews of the last 5 books, most of the people who stick with it are diehard fans.
Considering it started with a serial killer, it was rather boring and slow. The murders weren't the central focus at all. However, the witch business wasn't much of a focus either. It seemed as if the author was more hung up on tidy places and spilled crumbs. It wasn't awful but not worth a read either.
This was an easy, light read. Not deep but that's fine as I needed that at the moment. Needed a little editing for commas, etc., but nothing terrible. I had already downloaded the second in the series, look forward to seeing where the story goes. Cute and fun!
This is like Angela Lansbury crossed with Bewitched...a 'cosy' mystery where someone solves a crime without seeming to do anything, while the actual police bumble around seemingly missing obvious things. This all takes place against a backdrop of our main character learning she's a witch and finding out how to cast spells. There's nothing very dramatic here. The main character is likeable enough, but her inability to move on from the past was frustrating and her chatting with a one-eyed psychotic cat just made no sense. I'm sure there's an audience for this kind of book, but I don't think I'll bother with any more of this series.
Super surprised at how fast I read this one :-) I was into the story in a heartbeat. Fun writing style, quirky main character just the way I like them and a decent enough plot. Kudos to the originality of having a P.I. and a witch in one character. It makes for a great beginning. Also enjoyed the fact that the author doesn't end the story at just solving the main mystery, but rather keeps going with the main character's life events. Simple and efficient, I'm hooked :D
Well written with fun, believable characters. A dry sense of humour mixed with a murder mystery gives you Jill Gooder PI. Recently finding out she is a witch she reluctantly meets the other side of her family. Winky the one eyed cat and Barry the dog also become part of her OCD life. Will the handsome Police Detective? Fun cosy that is definitely worth the read.
I actually enjoyed this book, but I don’t know why. Normally I would hate this book, the main character Jill is irritating, the mystery is almost none existent and the paranormal aspects are so ‘cozy’ its almost nauseating. BUT! I kept reading and at the end of the book my first thought was where can I get the next one in the series.
It's a cute start to a series about a witch who doesn't know she is one, and her struggles to make it as a detective. While the writing could be polished up a bit, it still flowed smoothly. If you like cozy witch mysteries, this is worth picking up.
Paranormal Cozy Mystery, not as silly as many. Cozies are sweet, fluff little reads. This fits the simple escape bill. I’ll read the next in the series. Do appreciate that it is a stand alone story and not yet another Kindle Unlimited serial.