I think it's safe to assume that for all bibliophiles the idea of a place like Storyton Hall is akin to Shangri-la and the Book Retreat Mystery series by Ellery Adams is the stuff that cozy dreams are made of. And in the most recent title, Murder In The Paperback Parlor that dream cozily continues. It is the second title in the series with Mystery In The Murder Suite as it's "first in a new series" title debuting last August. I admit to reading over 30 series - which shockingly enough - doesn't even begin to cover the number of cozy series in existence. So I can't definitively make this statement, however, in the cozy mystery universe - or at least in my 30+ one, I find this series to be bravely unapologetically fantastical. It's a cross between Prince Valiant, Knights Templar, Indiana Jones and The Waltons. As a son of the Old Dominion (that would be the Commonwealth of Virginia for those who don't know) I think it's perfection that's it's set in Virginia. It lends that old-world tone that thrives and survives today in old established Virginia families. The very premise of the "eighth wonder of the world", the secret library filled with unknown literary treasures from all times and all writers (all the very purest of bibliophile fantasy)is what I mean by the series being unapologetically fantastical. What balances this fantasy, of course, is the sad reality of a young woman who has been widowed, left to raise small twin boys. Anyone who doesn't fall immediately in love with Jane and those two adorable boys, Hem and Fitz, would have to be some kind of wretch. The tattoos, the special keys, the secret society of double-guised members of Storyton Hall - fighting to the death to protect it - is everything that is delicious about suspending reality and willingly give into fantasy. Ms. Adams makes you care for all of the people of Storyton Hall and for all of Jane's friends.
The "fantasy perfection" quotient that is at the heart of cozies - you know what I'm talking about: perfect friends, perfect businesses, perfect boyfriends .... it's what makes cozies, cozies. But this particular cozy series takes the fantasy perfection to a level that - for me - almost out-fantasys all the series that have paranormal properties, like my beloved Aunt Dimity Series by Nancy Atherton. But I said almost, because I deeply love me some Aunt Dimity!
And Ms. Adams has already set up that love-interest/ambivalent thing that just drives me up the wall. So I'm going to say to you, Ms. Adams, what I've said to a number of your sister cozy authors: don't draw the Jane and Edwin thing out - PLEASE! I'm not saying they have to get married in the next book, but I do so hope that in the next installment the mystery of Edwin will be solved and Jane and he can get on with it. For their sake, for the boys' sake, for Storyon Village's sake - and most importably for my sake. My sanity.
For all cozy mystery readers who love the happiest and warmest kind of fantasy reads, this series is it. Ms. Adams is a beautiful storyteller with lots of heart. The series is charming, it's dear and the mysteries themselves are great, clever and exciting.
Ms. Adams pens two other series so please take time to check-out her website for information on all her works:
|The Village of Storyton. Let's Book a Trip!|
Also, recently, a fellow cozy addict posted a note on the blog before this one. He is a great reviewer and has a wonderful site. Please check out Mark Baker's very comprehensive and super-amazing blog:
And, as always, I'd love to hear from all my fellow cosy mystery addicts. Should you wish to know more about me please visit my website:
Up next: Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen. Stay tuned!