Book Review: In My Attic by Lina Hansen - a cozy mystery set in the UK featuring witches

Book Review: In My Attic by Lina Hansen

Title: In My Attic

Author: Lina Hansen

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust

Publication date: July 1, 2020

Genre: Mystery and Thriller

Summary: Myrtle Coldron is a very practical and no-nonsense schoolteacher. Until her Aunt Eve dies in a suspicious accident at the Witch’s Retreat, her bed and breakfast in the sleepy British town Avebury. Called back to where she grew up to handle her aunt’s affairs, she learns she’s to inherit the B&B, along with all the…unusual bits and pieces of her family history she had been unaware of. But someone seems to be after her now, because her family hides a secret that someone very powerful wants.

There’s something magical about this book. Literally. I mean, the book description mentions a zombie plant, and I have to say that plant was probably one of my favorite characters. I enjoy cozy mysteries and I adore magic, so, when asked to review a book that has both, and a cat, I couldn’t say no. I’m so happy this book delivered, and even happier that it’s the first book in the Magical Misfits Mystery series.

The Characters: Witchy and Enchanting

I loved the characters. Since many of them are guests of the B&B or part of the odd assortment who have taken up residence in Avebury, they initial feel a bit one dimensional. They were given a role, almost as though they were cut using a cookie cutter, a different one for each character. But, as I read on and got to know them better, they became much more interesting in so many ways. It got to a point where I wasn’t quite sure who to believe or who to trust, which is always great in a mystery.

The story is told from Myrtle’s perspective, so the reader gets to know her really well. She’s very practical with both feet in reality. There are witchy bits and pieces that get tossed around, but she’s adamant about not believing any of it. She’s also dealing with the grief of losing her aunt/mother who had raised her from the time she was a young teen after her parents passed, as well as a flighty cousin who is more interested in herself, but knows more than she lets on. I adored her character because she’s so grounded, but a part of her mind is still open, and she always tries to do what’s best. She’s curious and practical, which mixed delightfully well.

So many of the minor characters were so much fun. I liked getting to know Chris, a mysterious black-clad man Aunt Eve trusted, and Alan, a local constable who is a bit overeager. Myrtle seemed to trust and distrust them to equal degrees, and it was fun to try to figure out if they had any part in Aunt Eve’s death as well as what they knew. I also adored Sergeant Sarah, Alan’s boss. In many ways, she was a typical cop. In other ways, I could totally see her becoming Myrtle’s new best friend. There was a fun duality to her where she seemed hard as nails and soft and into shopping. The other minor characters were either guests or residents of the town, but they all seemed to have a connection to each other. It was fun to see them popping up all over the place, casually dropping hints as though Myrtle knew what was actually going on.

And then there are the non-human characters: the cat and the plant. As much as I enjoyed the humans, I think these two really stole my heart. I’m a cat lover, so I absolutely fell in love with Tiddles. That cat was so cat-like and very much a joy to read. I just wish there had been more of her. As for the plant, well, it had two big scenes that were delightful. The reader gets to know the plant throughout the novel, but, when it really came into play, it was very surprising, but equally fun.

The Setting: A Cozy Little Town with Surprises

I adore cozy mysteries in little, quiet towns. The small town just makes it feel even cozier with everyone knowing everyone else and secrets festering at every turn. As the small town is also set in the UK, there’s quite a bit of rain that just added to the atmosphere.

Avebury felt like it was exceptionally well thought out. It was well-described and the local landmarks fit the story perfectly. It was the kind of place I could clearly see in my mind, and I really felt all that rain alongside Myrtle. The residents also made it feel like a small, cozy town. They all knew each other and knew something about each other. It had a delightful sense of community, though it’s also a very peculiar kind of community!

I really liked that the witchy parts built up from the setting. It felt like it was simply both a part of the story and the world building. It fit extremely well, and even I started to believe there could really be magic!

The Plot: Perfectly Cozy

Magic aside, this is absolutely a cozy mystery. We have Myrtle, a schoolteacher, trying to solve the mystery of her aunt’s mysterious death. She isn’t willing to believe it might be an accident like Sarah’s boss, especially when literally everything else seemed to point to something unnatural. I loved that Myrtle so doggedly pursued the mystery and didn’t get sidetracked to derail the story into something like fantasy or romance. I absolutely adored the witch pieces that just slotted in perfectly and really loved learning about the witch trials that occurred in the UK as I had no idea that had happened there.

This may be a cozy mystery, but it’s still complex with a lot of turns and false leads. I loved following along with Myrtle as she just tried to figure out how to run a B&B and figure out what on Earth was going on in the small town. There were so many paths that led to locked doors and so many dropped hints that it was sometimes hard to keep them all straight, but it all led to the same place.

If there’s one thing that bothered me about the story, it was that I felt I had to be British to understand some of the phrases and words. I suppose it would be some British slang that might have been thrown in? I’ve read several books set in the UK and have managed to figure out some of it, but, being American, some of it just sounded too foreign for me, so I think I may have missed out on a layer of depth, but the story was still extremely enjoyable.

This book moved at a lovely pace, neither too quickly nor too slowly. I don’t like mysteries that leap from one thing to the next and that leave the reader to make the connection in the span of a few pages. I also don’t like mysteries that linger on something as though obsessed with it just to draw out the story and try to up the tension and suspension. I didn’t feel this book did either. It was a perfect balance of moving forward while spending just enough time on the important parts. One thing I hate about mysteries is that I get confused during the second half with so many clues wandering around and then the solution to the mystery getting wrapped up in it all to make a somewhat confusing conclusion. I was afraid that was going to happen here because there was so much going on at one point, but it all resolved itself and everything fell perfectly into place.

Overall: Scary Fun Book!

There are two words I have for this mystery: fun and delightful. Couldn’t you tell by how often I used those words? As a mystery, it does not disappoint. I have a long track record of figuring it just before the sleuth does, so I found this book to be immensely enjoyable. I felt like I was constantly teetering on the edge of whether to trust someone or not. The story was so much fun, but also scary at times. The characters were also a lot of fun and many of them were absolutely charming. This book takes place in a perfect location, has a wonderful cast, and tells a delightfully cozy mystery with magic wrapped up in it as though it completely, absolutely belongs. I also loved the sensation that, since it all made so much sense, Myrtle could very well be out there running the Witch’s Retreat and dealing with her magical neighbors.

How many cups of tea will you need?

5 cups would be excellent

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Thank you to the author, Lina Hansen, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Check out more of my book reviews by dropping by the Bookshelf.

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