Another sparkling story from Kitty French. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for an e-copy of this book.
Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.
A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?
Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.
Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?
I recently caught up with book 1 of the Chapelwick Mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t want to repeat the review for that book here, but safe to say that book 2 is another funny ghostbusting adventure with Melody and friends. If you enjoyed book 1, you’ll love book 2.
I thought the mystery had more depth this time and also gave one of the main characters in particular the opportunity to show considerable character development. It also features a ghost lion; surely sufficient reason alone to read this!
Maplemead Castle is a fantastic setting for mystery and a great backdrop for escalating romantic shenanigans (I won’t say more to avoid spoilers). However, for all the additional steam in this installment, I’d argue the most engaging relationships are still those between the fabulous female characters: between the generations of the Bittersweet family and between Melody and her best friend Marina.
You could read this book as a standalone. That said, as with all series, I think it’s best to read the books in order to get the most from the small details in the characters’ interactions.
If, like me, you’re partial to sweet treats, you’ll be pleased to know that delicious baked goods appear at regular intervals, just in case our heroine or her readers need a sugar rush.
And finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to say something about comedy. Both in books and film, just because something is funny it’s often seen as frivolous. This is why comedies hardly ever win Oscars or book awards: there’s an assumption that creating something which is consistently amusing is somehow easy. Well, in my opinion it’s a darn sight easier to make someone cry than laugh. Pulling off good comedy is a very difficult trick which requires great skill, and I take my hat off to Kitty French for just how funny Melody’s adventures are. It’s not often a book makes me laugh out loud, or has me trying out inventive and weirdly satisfying rude hand gestures (don’t ask, read the book!).
Overall: I haven’t come across anything as funny and fun as The Chapelwick Mysteries for a very long time. Highly recommended if you’re looking for some perfect, light-hearted escapism with loveable characters, a cosy mystery and a sprinkling of romance.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul