My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s the 1st week of our November 2018 Cozy Mystery Readathon featuring the ‘Renaissance Faire Mysteries’ by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Followers on my blog picked this series as our group buddy read, and we settled on the first 4 books in the series. First up is Wicked Weaves… let’s get into the review:
Prior to someone suggesting this series, I knew very little if anything about it. I liked the concept and thought it might present a good backdrop for a mystery series, but I worried it could get overdone with too many books in the series. I was intrigued that it was written by a writing duo, a husband and wife. I was also surprised to see it took place in South Carolina as I’d like to spend more time there, too.
I love Medieval Times / Middle Ages and the growth that occurred after they came to an end. The Renaissance was a time of great art, beauty, learning, and creativity. With a year-round fair and village, there are so many opportunities to learn ranging from basket-weaving, the focus of this book, to glass-blowing, which I believe is the focus for the next book. Not only did I learn some techniques and botany, I felt immersed in a cool culture with lots of fun settings, scenes, and ideas.
The caper is relatively simple with a minimal amount of possible suspects. While there are a few of the employees at the Renaissance Faire who might have had a connection to the deceased, there is also the wife, the brother, the brother-in-law, and the nephew / adopted son. With so much focus on the setting, I felt the characters weren’t described as well. I couldn’t connect with anyone including the main character herself (although I did like her side story romance). The amateur sleuth is a smart ~30ish woman who teaches at a college during the year and works summers at the fair. She’s a little vanilla for me, but there were some scenes that showed more potential, like anything having to do with her brother (mischievous one) or the bailiff (resident hottie). Given there are tons of books, I’m sure these aspects will grow better in the next one.
This book highlights why the cozy mystery world has a vast range of options. There are ones where the mystery is important, but there are also several where it’s all about the setting. This was about the setting, and I’m okay with that. We had little knowledge of the victim, and the revelation that he was the husband of the suspected killer was just very quiet and ordinary. It was the cliffhanger ending for a chapter, but honestly, I didn’t understand it. Had the next chapter not clearly said they were married, I wouldn’t have gotten the connection. This happened a few times in the book… where what I felt should’ve been a pop moment was more like background noise. If the setting and culture in the book were bland, too, I probably would give up on the series.
That said, it’s the actual Renaissance Faire components kept me interested and intrigued. I could ignore the redundancies, confusion, and lack of vibrant characters purely because I wanted to understand how this world operated. I look forward to the next book but really hope the mystery and the characters grow stronger. It was an okay to good read for me — nothing that stood out as something I’d recommend quite yet. Let’s move on to book two now… who’s ready for some Ghastly Glass?
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.