EVENFALL WITCHES B&B ☆ Cozy Mystery Series by Auralee Wallace



Book One: IN THE COMPANY OF WITCHES
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


When a guest dies in the B&B she helps her aunts run, a young witch must rely on some good old-fashioned investigating to clear her aunt’s name in this magical and charming new cozy mystery.

For four hundred years, the Warren witches have used their magic to quietly help the citizens of the sleepy New England town of Evenfall thrive. There’s never been a problem they couldn’t handle. But then Constance Graves — a local known for being argumentative and demanding — dies while staying at the bed and breakfast Brynn Warren maintains with her aunts. At first, it seems like an accident…but it soon becomes clear that there’s something more sinister at work, and Aunt Nora is shaping up to be the prime suspect.

There’s nothing Brynn wants more than to prove Nora’s innocence, and it hurts her to know that even two years ago that might have been easier. Brynn, after all, is a witch of the dead — a witch who can commune with ghosts. Ghosts never remember much about their deaths, but Constance might remember something about her life that would help crack the case. But Brynn hasn’t used her powers since her husband died, and isn’t even sure she still can. Brynn will just have to hope that her aunts’ magic and her own investigative skills will lead her to answers — and maybe back to the gift she once thought herself ready to give up forever.


If you loved the aunts in Practical Magic and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I highly recommend you give this new magical cozy mystery series a try. There’s also a curious uncle who reminds me a bit of “we don’t talk about” Bruno who adds to the fun.

Brynn, their niece, has been unable to use her witchy powers of communicating with ghosts ever since her husband died. Somehow Brynn needs to get her witchery back to help Aunt Nora when she’s accused of murdering a guest in their New England B&B.

I enjoyed the spirited characters and their dynamics and witty banter. The murder mystery was complex and fast paced, and I enjoyed how the family’s magical powers helped with the investigation. There are additional layers of emotion and family drama that give the story extra depth. I’m excited to see this series continue!



Book Two: WHEN THE CROW’S AWAY
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


The ghost of a recently deceased chocolatier believes he was murdered, and it’s up to young witch Brynn Warren to use her magical gifts and old-fashioned sleuthing skills to find out how he really met his bitter end in this enchanting new Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery.

After spending months unable to use her powers, Brynn Warren is once again using her gift and working at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. Her heart is full, and although one of her aunts wonders if it might be a little more full with a bit of romance in her life, Brynn is certain that finding love again is not in her future. In fact, she can’t imagine anyone being more certain of anything…except for maybe, the recently deceased Mortimer Sweete. He’s certain he’s been murdered, and he wants Brynn’s help to bring his killer to justice.

Mort is positive he knows who killed him: his business partner’s wife, Cookie, who had been trying to get them to sell the candy shop for months. But Brynn doesn’t share his conviction. After all, the coroner ruled his death natural causes, and Mort did have health problems in life. But with Cookie putting up a For Sale sign for the shop already, Brynn knows she can’t just let it go.

Trying to solve a might-be murder while attempting to stop her aunt from meddling in her personal life seems like a recipe for disaster. If Brynn wants to bring Mort’s spirit peace, she’ll have to rely on all her skills — both magical and mundane — to uncover the truth.


WHEN THE CROW’S AWAY is a fantastic continuation of this paranormal cozy mystery series. Evenfall is an absolutely charming place, and it was great to be back with Brynn and her witchy aunts and uncle. This time Aunt Izzy does some meddling in Brynn’s love life, which she’s none to thrilled about. However, she does have a distraction in the ghost of a deceased candy maker who firmly believes he was murdered. Now that Brynn has her powers back, she’s ready to help.

This is one of the more emotional cozy mystery series I’ve read, because it deals with loss and grief in a deeper way. Plenty of family drama too! The murder mystery in this book was rather intriguing, and the twist at the end was totally unexpected. I love how the last chapter hinted at what’s to come in the next book and I am ready for it!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of both books in exchange for an honest review.

ROAD OF BONES by Christopher Golden


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★¾


An American documentarian travels a haunted highway across the frozen tundra of Siberia in New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden’s Road of Bones, a “tightly wound, atmospheric, and creepy as hell” (Stephen King) supernatural thriller.

Surrounded by barren trees in a snow-covered wilderness with a dim, dusky sky forever overhead, Siberia’s Kolyma Highway is 1200 miles of gravel packed permafrost within driving distance of the Arctic Circle. A narrow path where drivers face such challenging conditions as icy surfaces, limited visibility, and an average temperature of sixty degrees below zero, fatal car accidents are common.

But motorists are not the only victims of the highway. Known as the Road of Bones, it is a massive graveyard for the former Soviet Union’s gulag prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of people worked to death and left where their bodies fell, consumed by the frozen elements and plowed beneath the permafrost road.

Fascinated by the history, documentary producer Felix “Teig” Teigland is in Russia to drive the highway, envisioning a new series capturing Life and Death on the Road of Bones with a ride to the town of Akhust, “the coldest place on Earth”, collecting ghost stories and local legends along the way. Only, when Teig and his team reach their destination, they find an abandoned town, save one catatonic nine-year-old girl―and a pack of predatory wolves, faster and smarter than any wild animals should be.

Pursued by the otherworldly beasts, Teig’s companions confront even more uncanny and inexplicable phenomena along the Road of Bones, as if the ghosts of Stalin’s victims were haunting them. It is a harrowing journey that will push Teig beyond endurance and force him to confront the sins of his past.


ROAD OF BONES is a paranormal horror/thriller set during winter along the Kolyma Highway in Siberia. Until this book popped up on my radar, I had never heard of this road or its cruel, gruesome history. Possibly up to a million gulag prisoners died building this highway and their bodies were buried underneath, victims of Stalin’s cruelty.

A documentarian and his cameraman head out on this desolate highway looking for ghost stories on their way to Akhust, the coldest town on Earth. Once they get there, they find the town has been abandoned except for one little girl, and a pack of murderous wolves, that are now after them.

I have mixed feelings about this book, and I think it’s because I was expecting something different based on the synopsis. There was a fast-paced “chase” element, interesting Siberian folklore, and a few creepy moments. But where were the ghosts? Unfortunately the “road of  bones” and its tragic history were lost in the chase, except for a couple of odd disjointed parts.

ROAD OF BONES is heavy on the folktale, without a lot of whys, but I was enthralled with the descriptions of the bitter cold! (Again, where were the ghosts?)

BENEATH THE STAIRS by Jennifer Fawcett


Publisher: Atria Books
Published: February 22, 2022
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★½


In this spine-tingling, atmospheric debut for fans of Jennifer McMahon, Simone St. James, and Chris Bohjalian, a woman returns to her hometown after her childhood friend attempts suicide at a local haunted house — the same place where a traumatic incident shattered their lives twenty years ago.

Few in sleepy Sumner’s Mills have stumbled across the Octagon House hidden deep in the woods. Even fewer are brave enough to trespass. A man had killed his wife and two young daughters there, a shocking, gruesome crime that the sleepy upstate New York town tried to bury. One summer night, an emboldened fourteen-year-old Clare and her best friend, Abby, ventured into the Octagon House. Clare came out, but a piece of Abby never did.

Twenty years later, an adult Clare receives word that Abby has attempted suicide at the Octagon House and now lies in a coma. With little to lose and still grieving after a personal tragedy, Clare returns to her roots to uncover the darkness responsible for Abby’s accident.

An eerie page-turner, Beneath the Stairs is about the trauma that follows us from childhood to adulthood and returning to the beginning to reach the end.


I loved every creepy and unsettling moment of this book! BENEATH THE STAIRS is a haunting slow-burn, character-driven debut with a lot to unpack. Is there a way to break free from childhood trauma and years of guilt and regret?

In upstate New York, the small town of Sumner’s Mills has fallen on hard times. Storefronts are boarded, and the old factory walls are crumbling, but one building stands firm — the abandoned Octagon House deep in the woods. When a couple of young teen girls venture into its basement, their lives are changed forever by what they see. Twenty years later, the house calls them back with tragic consequences.

There were moments in this book when I was truly scared! The story takes place over multiple timelines where the disturbing history of the Octagon House is revealed. I was completely immersed in the story and the lives of the flawed characters. That creepy house wouldn’t let me rest until I knew its secrets! I’m excited to read more of this author’s work in the future. Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT LIVES IN THE WOODS by Lindsay Currie


Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★¾


For fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine comes a chilling ghost story about a girl living in the decrepit and creepy mansion, who discovers something in the woods is after her.

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny’s father ― a respected restoration expert in Chicago ― surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren’t staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they’re staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

But unfortunately, the mansion has more problems than a little peeling wallpaper. Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures with glowing eyes. And some say campers routinely disappear in the woods, never to be seen again.

As terrifying as it sounds, Ginny can’t shake the feeling that there’s something darker… another story she hasn’t been told. When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: There’s more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren’t after campers.

It’s after her.


Main character Ginny Anderson is a Chicago tween obsessed with Agatha Christie novels, and she dreams of publishing her own mysteries someday. She feels her summer has been ruined when her dad gets a job renovating a spooky old mansion in Michigan. Instead of attending a fun summer writing class with her bestie, she has to spend a month stuck at Woodmoor Manor. When some creepy unexplained occurrences start happening in the house, Ginny finds herself immersed in her own mystery to solve.

What lives in the woods? I’m not sure, because the title & blurb of this book are a bit misleading. I enjoyed the mystery and the creepy atmosphere of Woodmoor Manor. If I were Ginny, I would’ve loved to spend the summer exploring an old mansion with Agatha Christie vibes, but she was focused on a way to get back to Chicago. She’s a clever and brave character who wouldn’t let ghosts get in her way. This book is a great pick for fans of middle grade horror.

Thoughts on Books (#23): THE BOOK OF COLD CASES • MRS. MARCH • A LESSON IN VENGEANCE

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ― Lauren DeStefano


The Book of Cold Cases
The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

★ Publication date on March 15, 2022 ★

True crime podcasts are popular themes in thrillers these days, and in this book we have a cold cases blogger named Shea who lands an interview with Beth, the woman acquitted of murdering two men 40 years earlier. Shea has been long obsessed with this case, partly because it happened in her home town of Claire Lake, Oregon. If Beth didn’t kill those men, then who did? Beth has been reclusive for decades, hiding alone in her family’s creepy mansion, and also hiding the truth.

Usually I’m a huge fan of Simone St. James’ ghostly elements, but this time the paranormal didn’t fit particularly well. THE BOOK OF COLD CASES was more of a dysfunctional family drama with a murder mystery mixed in, and unfortunately the mystery gets solved too quickly! While I enjoyed the premise and characters, I thought the story moved slowly overall, and I kind of questioned the point of including the woo-woo. Liked this one, but didn’t love it.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Mrs. March
Mrs. March
by Virginia Feito
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A wealthy New York housewife is horrified to learn that the pitiful protagonist of her husband’s latest novel might be based on her.

This book was a strange experience! I’m not exactly sure when the the story is set, probably mid-20th century. I would describe MRS. MARCH as literary suspense, or maybe a character study of a woman’s descent into madness. There’s even a murder mystery mixed in.

We only know the main character as “Mrs. March” until the very last sentence when her first name is revealed. I’m not sure I get the significance of that, still thinking it over. She’s definitely unreliable and filled with inner turmoil, and her husband’s new book sets her on a downward spiral.

The writing was good, and I enjoyed the Shirley Jackson/Daphne du Maurier influence throughout. It’s not exactly a fun read, but it did keep me glued to the pages. Borrowed from the library.


A Lesson in Vengeance
A Lesson in Vengeance
by Victoria Lee
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Felicity Morrow returns to the prestigious Dalloway School a year after her girlfriend’s death, but finds she’s still haunted by Alex’s memory and the school’s dark history of witchcraft and murder.

I enjoyed the gothic atmosphere, but that’s about it. For most of the book, I just didn’t get the point. Weak plot, pretentious characters. Had some intriguing twists near the end, but kind of boring overall. Borrowed from the library.