Miss Cuddlywumps reviews the first Wonder Cats mystery by Harper Lin
A Hiss-tory of Magic is a book of secrets, crime, witches, cats…and magic, of course. It is a story told by one Cath Greenstone, a thirty-three-year-old witch from Wonder Falls, Canada, and it is a good one.
The trouble in Wonder Falls (and don’t pretend you didn’t know there would be some) begins when the café owned by Cath’s hippie aunt, Astrid, is burned. Unfortunately, the Brew-Ha-Ha’s baker and cook, Ted Lanier, is found dead inside the café.
Tragic accident, or brutal murder? And what does it all have to do with the secret, very powerful spell book that has been “stolen” from its hiding place? (And why did I put stolen in quotation marks? Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find that out.)
There is a detective on the case, but his usefulness is questionable. Thus, it is mostly up to Cath, her cousin Bea, and Aunt Astrid—all witches, unbeknownst to anyone else in Wonder Falls—to both keep their family secret and solve the crime.
Oh, and they also have to keep the villains who are after that spell book from getting their hands on it and unleashing its power.
As you know, humans can do very little without the help of cats, and fortunately there are three exceptionally talented cats in this story. They are Treacle, the black cat with whom Cath has a telepathic bond; Marshmallow, Aunt Astrid’s Maine Coon; and Peanut Butter, Bea’s cat. These cats are indispensable, finding clues for the hapless humans and, best of all, helping their witches do magic.
The magic parts of this book were our favorites. According to the secrets Cath reveals, magic is possible because there are extra dimensions, and cats know these mysterious dimensions better than humans do. Doing magic involves pulling bits of the dimensions this way and that (when you need to do a bit of time traveling, for example), and cats help witches do that.
You humans just have no idea of the things we cats can do.
Cath and family (including the cats) are some good characters to spend a few evenings with. She of Little Talent especially enjoyed Bea and the trolley of books in her kitchen. The mystery in A Hiss-tory of Magic had us looking in several wrong directions, and we enjoyed being stumped, though I do have to say that the conclusion was complicated in a way that didn’t really grab us and frankly left us a little confused. The story can be hard to follow at times, and there are quite a few places where words are missing. A good editor could help smooth out those rough patches.
Nevertheless, because the characters and story (especially that dimensional-magic thing) were so enjoyable, I give A Hiss-tory of Magic