My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge is a humorous, playful, action-dashed paranormal mystery with slight hints of romance. It chronicles Jade, the half-witch, and her growth from a cupcake bakery owner dependent on her grandmother for magical and life advice to an independent powerful adult, all the while getting caught between a murder investigation led by a vampire and a pack of werewolves.
Naturally attracted to the fantasy elements, I decided I’d crack it open for a read, and this is what I have to say about it.
What I Thought Didn’t Work
I like Jade. She’s cute, humorous, sensible, and sexually confident. I also like that she’s struggling to try and be an adult while not depending so much on her mother and grandmother, even though she needs to be dependent on them, because she doesn’t do a lot of magic. Great conflict fuel right there.
But I give the novel 3.9 stars because of my frustration with Jade. I felt like the twist was really obvious to me, but it felt like it took Jade the end of the novel to find it out. There are moments where Jade acknowledges how her interactions with her paranormal “friends” may have blindsided her from the truth, but it’s acknowledged so late that I feel like I didn’t get anything out of her revelation. It felt like she was made clueless and distracted on purpose to lengthen the book. Yes, there are moments where she’s new to the whole magical world, and her paranormal “friends” are babying her a bit, but I don’t think she’s that inept. Saying that blindsiding was a part of her character feels too generous, as there are moments in the novel where she appears capable. She fends off a hungry vampire after dancing at the club, albeit acknowledging how long it took her “fight or flight” senses to kick-in, but she does it. I’d say that’s pretty capable.
Simply put, some moments felt unnatural.
I think what would have made the twist stronger would have been more red herrings, misleading clues, and dead trails that Jade and the others find. I’m not a mystery writer, but if I know anything about a typical mystery, it’s that even the greatest of detectives find dead ends.
What I Thought Worked
Again, while some of the jokes got stale after being hit upon too many times, the humor was hip and fresh, for the most part. And in the novel, I experienced magic on a level I hadn’t seen before, which was through taste. Though Jade could see the magic radiating off other magically-attuned people and creatures, she could also taste it and smell it, which is suited to her profession as a baker. All the sensory stuff in the book was just where it needed to be, and I really liked that concept.
The characters were developed pretty well for the most part, and in terms of technical writing details, I didn’t have a problem visualizing the world at all.
This was a good read for me. It wasn’t an amazing read, but it wasn’t a terrible read either. This was a pretty fun and cute book.