Enchantment Lake was a fun little read. My expectations were totally off, but still, I enjoyed it. I just wouldn’t say I was enchanted by it. There was a little too much going on for that. And this is another that suffers from genre-identity-crisis. Is it YA, cozy, children’s fiction? Who knows. I am going to call it cozy, but I don’t know if it is the start of a series or not.
So, first, why were the expectations off? With a caption above the title (LOVE the cover, by the way) that says “A Northwoods mystery” I think cozy. With a description in netgalley that calls our 17-year old protagonist Francie a “reluctant northwoods Nancy Drew” and the following:
“What happened to her father? Who and where is her mother? Who is she, and where does her heart lie—in the bustle of New York City or the deep woods of Minnesota? With its gripping story, romantic spirit, and a sly dash of modern-day trouble (evil realtors and other invasive species),Enchantment Lake will fascinate readers, providing precisely the charm that Margi Preus’s readers have come to expect.”
I expected a little more. I can’t say I know exactly how a publisher chooses “YA” versus “Children’s” – but I would say this is a little mature for what I think of as children (12 year olds being the target there) and it definitely falls more in line with the YA (Francie is 17 after all). There are elements of cozies in that its a small town, there are red herrings galore, and the “who dun it” is a little out of nowhere with the detective sort of falling into the answer and not exactly being a great sleuth. That’s one of the differences though that make the book’s description so misleading – Nancy Drew was a great detective. Most of our detectives in the cozy genre (at least what I have read) aren’t. They just happen to end up solving things through shear dumb luck.
The story goes something like this: Francie is a young lady in NY City, looking to pursue her acting career when she suddenly gets a frantic call from her old aunt’s claiming that they are in danger. Francie hops on a plane (then a bus) and travels to the remote area of Minnesota where the charming ladies tell Francie of the mysterious deaths occurring to people who live on the same lake they do. Is it the real estate agent? His treasure hunting son? The handy man (well, until he turns up dead, anyway)? The folks who want to develop the lake and build a road? And what about this wealthy family with a former actress matriarch? Can Francie solve it before she is next, or before her aunts are arrested or killed?
The tangential questions of who is Francie’s mother that are raised and what ever that is all about are mere distractions. It would have been better had that just been skipped and we could focus on the mystery. It was easy to read and the setting of the Minnesota lake brought to mind images of peaceful and tranquil vacation spots where I would love to get away from it all. Francie’s aunts didn’t get near enough page time as they have the potential to be great comic relief. They seem like they would be fun people in real life – we just don’t get enough of them to be sure. With dialogue that seemed fairly natural and some insecurities that were precious, this was cute. I wouldn’t say I was enchanted, but intrigued enough to read another, should there be one!