I want to thank Netgalley again for access to yet another wonderful title – one that has made my “to be read” pile significantly larger because if the other stuff by Angie Fox is as much fun as Southern Spirits, then I have a lot more reading to do! I mean, there are a number of series that Ms. Fox has written and it looks like, fingers crossed, that there will be another related to Southern Spirits (the end page with other books lists this installment under “The Southern Ghost Hunter” heading!). Yippeee!
I am a big fan of books like this – quick, fun, easy to read, an engaging mystery, and characters that are easy to like. A little bit of romance and a little bit more of the paranormal, and I am hooked. The final ingredient, which sometimes feels like the cherry on the cake is good writing. I read some bad stuff, and very often continue to read that book or series anyway. Call me a masochist (it’s bad but I like it!) or maybe an optimist (things will get better?) but it usually takes a lot to get me to stop reading something. How can good writing be the dessert course? Well, even bad writers can have fun books, good stories and/or characters. Ok, so I am in a Twi-bashing kind of mood lately. They were entertaining and fun reads. But, lets face it, they were about sparkly vampires. I mean, really, who thinks they were well written? Or Fifty Shades – they may have been steamy but they were also the model for a course in contradiction and bad writing.
Not the case here! Verity, a girl hard on her luck because of a jerk of an ex-fiance, happens to change her life when she dumps an urn full of the ashes of a 1920s gangster on her rose bushes. And then waters said rose bushes. And ends up with a gangster ghost, grounded to her and her property. Property that she is trying to save. So, she jumps into a mystery now that she has a connection to the spirit world, in an attempt to make the money she needs to save her home. Frankie, the gangster is funny, Verity doesn’t shy from danger and is sarcastic and witty, the dialogue between characters is amusing and feels real. Melody, Verity’s sister is a great tool for info (she’s the Hermoine of this story, being the resident librarian) and Ellis is the hunk who hires Verity and he was pretty fun to conjure in my brain.
The story isn’t super complicated – they never really are in this genre (cozy mystery is where I believe it sits, at least that’s where I have categorized it). But the paranormal spin keeps it fun and lets things happen which otherwise wouldn’t be possible. I was reminded very much of Madelyn Alt’s Betwitching Series (which I miss terribly, by the way – I still have fingers crossed that In Charm’s Way will eventually grace the book stores but I may be delusional on that front) or H.P. Mallory’s stuff (I am only one book into the Dulcie O’Neil series, but loved the first one). We see everything from Verity’s perspective and she’s a great companion. Never mind the fact that she has a pet skunk (yes, skunk!!! Lucy. Love. It.) and isn’t shy about that. She has just enough personality and we see just enough of her for me to think “move over Pepe Le Pew”.
Then, we have a little tiny hint of romance between Verity and Ellis, and that too keeps things interesting. Just enough suspense and mystery to be alluring and addictive. The ground rules for the paranormal world were solidly established and that was a relief. The story, with the backdrop of the Southern Spirit’s distillery, was just spooky enough to keep me furiously reading. Can’t go to bed right after the ghost attacks, after all! A toast is in order: here’s to Southern Spirits, and hopefully more spooky fun in A Ghostly Gift!