Natalie is a detective in the Burning Lake, New York police department. This is a town that makes the most of its history with witchcraft and has a large tourist trade around it that culminates with the Halloween celebration. It’s March, so the town is quieter until a modern-day witch is murdered.
Natalie is a protagonist that solved two high profile murder cases as a rookie and is questioning her career and her love life. She is strong when she is pursuing leads and has insights that others miss, but she is also burned out. However when the leader of the town’s oldest coven is killed, Natalie pursues justice for her. Her character felt real with clear goals for solving the case and believable motivations for why she is questioning her lifestyle. The secondary characters were well-rounded and enhanced the story.
A dramatic and heartbreaking opening is memorable and immediately hooks readers. The stakes were high throughout the novel and kept me turning the pages. A fast-paced story line kept me turning the pages. The world-building enhanced the setting and gave me a clear sense of place. I felt transported to Burning Lake as though living through the events with Natalie. There were plenty of red herrings, twists and turns along with the action that kept me guessing who was responsible for the murder. A suspenseful, but sometimes disturbing, narrative from beginning to end kept this reader fully engaged. Themes include violent death, grief, family relationships, friendship, drugs, secrets, romance, Wicca, and much more. My biggest criticism with the book is the major cliff-hanger ending. I don’t mind a few threads being open to explore in the next novel, but this was more significant. Despite this, the novel captivated me from the beginning to its shocking finish. Wow!
Overall, the plot was complex, absorbing and well-paced. Complex characters, the town’s cultural history and traditions, a twisty story line, and fantastic writing keep me coming back to this series for more. While this can be read as a standalone novel, to get the most enjoyment from it, the first two books in the series should be read before starting this one. That will give readers a better understanding of Natalie’s situation. I can’t wait to read book four.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books and Alice Blanchard for a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley and the opportunity to provide an honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently scheduled for December 07, 2021.
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