The first thing to know about this book is that although it could be experienced as a standalone novel, you’re better off reading it after reading Book 1 in Willows Bend Mysteries, You Bet Your Life. Otherwise you’ll miss a lot of context about the main characters in the series.
And what characters they are. Heather, a recently jobless and newly single marketing executive, has her hands full dealing with her Aunt Julia, the most irritating literary character I have come across in some time; Aunt Julia is a shady lady who has done crime, done time, and is now living with her niece in the tiny town of Willows Bend, Illinois. Julia is demanding, completely without scruples, and has Heather wrapped around her little finger.
The Crone’s Curse follows hot on the heels of You Bet Your Life, as redheaded Julia gets herself into hot water with a dead body, a psychic, a fire, another dead body, the psychic’s brother, and some red stiletto heels. Heather has her own hands full fending off one man, falling for another, and starting a virtual marketing business, but she still finds herself saving Julia’s bacon more than once.
Evelyn Cullet has a good grasp of the humorous cozy mystery; The Crone’s Curse is entertaining and requires low effort on the reader’s part to stay engaged. I might have rated it more highly if I were reviewing the series as a whole, but as a standalone, this book needed more background on the recurring characters. Clear physical descriptions of the characters would have been a plus, too; we know that Julia has red hair, but I am left with the impression that her other physical features are hazy. This vagueness put up a wall for me, because Julia is such a physical character. She is forever tearing at her hair, sneaking away, drumming her fingers on a table – I need more physical cues to build a visual of those actions.
Overall though, The Crone’s Curse is a solid cozy read that’s worth your time if you enjoy the genre. Fans of M.C. Beaton’s Agnes Raisin series will enjoy this book. Aunt Julia is similar to Agnes – but not nearly as lovable.
I received an Advance Readers Copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for my honest review.