To receive the email of an author reaching out to me through the ‘contact’ page of Fiction Books always gives me a bit of a buzz, so it was good to chat with author Melissa Bourbon, about her latest book, Murder In Devil’s Cove. Whilst I am generally not drawn to fantasy novels as a rule, this premise sounded so intriguing, that I decide I just had to give it a go! So thank you for your faith in me, Melissa!
MURDER IN DEVIL’S COVE – (Book Magic Mystery #1)
Almost everyone in the Lane family line dies young. The gift of bibliomancy tells their story before the deaths happen. But Cassie Lane doesn’t see it as a gift. For her, it is a curse. As soon as she’s able, she leaves Laurel Point, Oregon, running from her past and her fate, ending up in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There she meets Leo Hawthorne and lives a perfect life with him in an old Sea Captain’s house.
Perfect, that is, until Leo vanishes at sea.
After an old copy of Moby Dick foretells Leo’s death, Cassie forbids all books from the lives of her children with Leo. But when twins Pippin and Gray discover a secret room where their father hid away books that were special to him, long forgotten secrets surface, an old crime comes to light, and everything Pippin thought she knew is turned upside down.
Now twenty-five years later, Pippin must learn how to be a bibliomancer if she is to figure out what happened to her father and stop another murder from happening in Devil’s Cove.
After majoring in French and English, Melissa taught middle school Language Arts, before leaving the profession to raise her family and eventually follow her dream of writing full time.
When not pounding the keys, Melissa hikes, practices yoga, cooks, and is slowly but surely discovering all the great restaurants in the Carolinas.
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“As the middle child, between two brothers, I learned early that being the only girl gave me ‘that special something’ in my family. Mothers and daughters. Fathers and daughters. They are unique bonds that can’t be explained. As a result, all my books have strong mother/daughter and father/daughter relationships–family is what I value most in life”
“Cassandra Lane Hawthorne stood on the main fishing pier in Devil’s Cove staring out at the harbor, grasping the pendant she wore around her neck. The breeze blew across the Sound, whipping her hair into her face. The same feeling of foreboding she’d had since the day she’d met her husband filled her. Her insides were a dry sponge slowly expanding with water. “You’re not going to take him,” she said. Her voice was carried away on the breath of wind. She spoke again, louder this time. “You won’t take him!”
“All books had a history. All books told stories – those written on the pages, and those between the lines”
“Unfortunately, emotions didn’t respond to logic. She couldn’t just press a button and make them go away. She was learning to live with them. To embrace them, even”
“Her father had loved books as much as her mother had despised them”
“Pippin marveled at the vastness of the collection. How many stories did the pages of all these books hold? But not only that, what stories did the books themselves tell? Who had held these volumes? Who had loved them, hidden under a sheet, flashlight in hand, to read them into the wee hours of the morning, or screeched from a shocking twist? Imaginary people came to life through the words on the page. Book boyfriends, best friends, worlds in which people wanted to live”
“It is true. The idea of bibliomancy is that a divine book guides one. With stichomancy, as Daisy so eloquently put it a moment ago, the book need not be divine”
“Every book tells two stories”
Ah! A truly satisfying read, which although it works more than well as a stand alone story, has an ending which has been cleverly crafted to make it definitive, yet with just enough unspoken intrigue, to make this the first episode in what promises to be an excellent series.
I am not usually engaged by stories which have aspects of fantasy woven into them. However I am really pleased that I decided to give this one a try, as the blending of genres between fantasy, cozy mystery and murder, was very subtle and seamless, leaving me only needing to suspend belief by a smidgen and making this a lovely family saga to escape into. Although I have to admit that the thought of needing to cross the road to avoid passing a library or book shop, and the notion of banning all books from the house apart from those which are hidden from sight, gives me the shivers to even contemplate!
The chapters were deliberately neat and concise, which kept the pace of the story moving forward fluidly, with each opening paragraph featuring a well-placed and relevant quote from a selection of Melissa’s fellow authors and other notable communicators.
Who would have thought that two murders, more than twenty years apart, fuelled by greed, jealous revenge and unrequited love, would have been so connected? The ripping apart of a family, as forewarned by its young and vulnerable wife and mother, is the catalyst which sets this unstoppable train of events in motion, as descendants are now trying to make sense of a longstanding curse, which only seems to afflict the female members of the family.
Whilst twins, Pippin and Grey realise that their family heritage does have something of a unique history, being brought up away from Devil’s Cove means they have been shielded from much of the detail. Now the reality that much of what they had assumed about historical events, hadn’t quite been as black and white as they had thought, or been led to believe, has opened the floodgates of emotion when fiercely guarded secrets are brought to bear as they seek to uncover the truth. Pippin has to not only turn amateur sleuth to unmask a murderer, but must overcome her own personal fears and taboos, to unlock the secrets of the past.
This well structured, slightly unconventional, multi-layered storyline, is highly textured, rich in detail and atmosphere and as an accomplished storyteller, author Melissa Bourbon skilfully, confidently and effortlessly led the direction she wanted me to take on this journey, almost without me noticing. There is a compelling blend of assured, observational and descriptive narrative, mixed with some excellent conversational dialogue, which allows all of the characters a voice and which offers a real sense of time and place that is almost tangible. I could imagine myself sat on the veranda of the Lane Hawthorne family home, in my comfy Adirondack chair, gazing out to sea – with a cup of tea and a book by my side, of course!
Melissa has developed an authentic cast of well drawn, defined and developed characters, most of whom are open books to be explored and to connect with, although our suspects have more than adequately inveigled themselves into the community as trusted and stalwart members, with nary a thought or care, which did totally catch me and seemingly everyone else, unawares, even the most curious of neighbours! I became completely invested in Pippin for her genuine and believable forthright honesty, and the fact that she isn’t afraid to let her vulnerabilities define her as a person, although I suspect that it is going to take a while for her to find her new place amongst old friends. The past is also always going to play quite a large part in Pippin’s future, as she seeks to unravel and unlock, the mysterious folklore driven roots of her Irish ancestry.
Whilst as twins, Pippin and Grey will always be inseparable and there for one another no matter what, with the knowledge that the challenge of the curse has to be Pippin’s alone to learn to live with, Grey has taken this opportunity to relax those bonds and gently guide them down their separate pathways of self-actualization, individual challenges and personal relationship development, although he is never going to be too far from her side.
I rather suspect that, once she is over the initial shock and surprise of this mini separation, Pippin will soon find her feet as a member of the community, especially with one certain gentleman, who will no doubt be encouraging her new found love of the written word. I suspect that a new partner of the four-legged variety is also set to take centre stage in the future and Pippin will have her work cut out in being her new friend’s ears on the world!
I read for four main reasons: enjoyment, entertainment, escapism and emotion and this book definitely ticked all those ‘e’ boxes, and then some.
A complimentary kindle download of this book for review, was made available and supplied by the author.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!