Here’s something funny before I tell you what I think about Murder by Magic (Sonoma Witches, book 5) by Gretchen Galway.

Spoiler alert! Actually, never mind. This is the 5th book in a series. Of course, there are going to be spoilers. If you haven’t read this series, here’s book 1.

I’ve loved this series since it came out and I was curious how the slow burn between Alma and Seth would evolve and whether it would ever lead to anything. So, as soon as I started the story I knew something was off because now Alma and Seth are an established couple. I went online and checked the book series with bated breath. Have I read about their relationship and already forgotten about it? And then the horror hit!

I missed the 4th book in the series! Has that ever happened to you? It’s a first for me. I’ll double-check from now on. Also, I got book 4, Charmed to Death, and will read and review as soon as I finish the current ones.

Title: Murder by Magic

Author: Gretchen Galway

Genre: Fantasy, Cozy Mystery

Publication date: September 16, 2021

Rating: 5

Book description

I should’ve known the birthday party for a 113-year-old witch wasn’t going to be all cake and games. Especially with so many other witches around—and that scary magic wand.

I’d been desperate for a vacation from the rain on the California coast. But instead of snow and cocoa in a cozy mountain cabin, I got… a dead body. And the murder weapon wasn’t a candlestick in the billiard room.

Looks like it’s up to me again. My one friend is a Bright witch but not much of a fighter. I used to think I, too, was harmless, but the enchanted marks on my skin tell a different story. My moral code prevents me from killing anyone, but somehow my enemies tend to end up dead.

Trapped in the spellbound mountain retreat, I have to find the killer before anyone else gets killed. Or worse.

I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.

Probably.

* * *
An enchanted lake house, a magic wand, and a murdered witch—life is never boring for ex-demon hunter Alma Bellrose, even if she’d like it to be. Can she use her developing powers to unravel a century of family secrets and save her friend’s life—or will an old curse claim another victim?

This is a standalone mystery within a series.

Book review

Well, relationship spoiler aside, Murder by Magic can be read as a standalone. I think each book is written in such a manner that you can easily read it without the others and it makes sense. You can read my reviews of Dead Witch on a Bridge, Hex at a House Party, A Spell to Die For. I’ll edit this post and add Charmed to Death when I’m done with it.

If I remember correctly, each book starts where the previous one ended, so I assume Murder by Magic is no exception. The story starts when a long-lost friend, Marcie, contacts Alma and askes her to accompany her to her Grandfather’s 113 birthday party. If you’ve made it this far in the series, you know what happens next: a murder. And it’s Alma’s job to figure out who the murderer is, not as an agent of the protectorate, but as a friend.

Things get touch and go when Marcie becomes the prime suspect and Alma has a deadline to clear her. I can’t say much about the plot without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say that the mystery is solid, the action is fast-paced and the characters are well written with distinct voices and personalities. Some of those supporting characters I’d love to see, maybe, in future books.
Another spoiler alert! Fun fact: Willy hates cranberries!

I recommend reading this series in order. Give it a try if you enjoy cozy mysteries, paranormal suspense, well-rounded characters, and a hint of romance.

About the author

GRETCHEN GALWAY is a USA Today bestselling author who writes mystery, fantasy, and romance. Raised in the American Midwest, she now lives in Sonoma County, California.

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