Monday, July 05, 2021

A Tale of Two Sisters (The Fortune-Telling Twins Mysteries, #1) by Bettina M. Johnson

A Tale of Two Sisters (The Fortune-Telling Twins Novella #1)A Tale of Two Sisters by Bettina M. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Tale of Two Sisters is a light and fun cozy paranormal mystery, and the journey to its resolution is both exciting and entertaining.

Maggie Fortune leads a secret ten-member team of monster-hunters who move about the country undercover as part of a traveling caravan of antique appraisers. Like the more well-known “Antiques Roadshow,” the caravan stops in various towns along its way to let people bring them their prized possessions in hopes of discovering hidden riches. However, individuals of the paranormal variety bring in items having a different goal. They want these experts to determine if their possessions are cursed, bewitched, or masking and hiding a supernatural evil, and if they are, they want the items cleansed of the danger or released from the spell. Maggie’s team is comprised of a mix of extraordinarily talented individuals: Maggie and her sister, Ellie, are both witches but others are vampires, shifters, elementals, druids, succubi, and even a ghost.

At their most recent stop, Maggie is approached by the elderly Birch sisters, Esther and Louise, with a lamp. They insist the lamp is actually hiding the spirit of their younger step-sister, Millicent, who passed only days earlier. Not wishing to be buried, they believe Millicent has somehow used the island magic of her people back on St. Lucia to hide her mortal remains from them. They want Maggie to expel Millicent from the lamp and find her body for them so they can give her a proper burial.

Things just sound wrong to Maggie, but she agrees to take on their case. Able to tell special things about an item, such as its history from a touch, Maggie picks up the lamp and finds herself transported to the sisters’ old Victorian home, where she encounters a woman who looks like Millicent. However, when she turns to face Maggie, the woman begins to shriek, and her face is completely blank and without features. Frightened, Maggie breaks the connection, realizing there’s way more to the story than what the sisters have told her. She is determined to have her team get to the bottom of things.

A Tale of Two Sisters is a delightful story chockful of witches and a myriad of paranormal beings, some a familiar variety such as vampires and shifters but also some of the less well-known types like succubi, druids, or elementals. The monster-hunting team is a collection of these various beings, all using their special talents and skills to save the human world from the evils of the unknown. They travel from place to place under the guise of a major antique appraisal business owned and operated by Maggie and Ellie’s family, but even Maggie’s father doesn’t know about the team’s true mission.

Maggie herself is a witch and is the heart and soul of the book. She’s bright, funny, and good-hearted, a character to get behind and root for from the very start. She’s got a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, which she handles well. But when provoked, Maggie shows what a tough cookie she really is. She was so engaging and fun, someone I’d enjoy knowing in real life.

In addition to solving the case of the missing Millicent, the story has what looks to be an ongoing mystery, one that will continue through to the next book in the series, at least, regarding Maggie’s twin sister. Ellie is a ghost, sort of. She’s not quite dead (her body is enclosed in a glass coffin back at the Fortune family’s home, never decomposing), but she’s most certainly not alive either. The members of the team can see her, but only Maggie can hear her speak. So far, she seems free to come and go as she pleases and can touch and move items. The only clue to who is responsible for her current condition is a small statue of a wolf.

I liked that there is a tie to the author’s Lily Sweet series. Lily is a young artist living in Sweet Briar, Georgia, who only recently discovered she was descended from a family of witches and is herself a dark witch. The family in Georgia are cousins to the Fortune family.

This is also a story about sisters and features three different sister groupings: the twins, Maggie and Ellie, the elderly Birch sisters, twins Esther and Louise, and Millicent, and there’s even the succubi sisters, Serena and Sydney. It was interesting to note the different relationships that existed among all the sisters.

Coming in at under 120 pages, this first tale in the Fortune-Telling Twins Mysteries is a smart and fun novella that is easy to enjoy and well worth the time spent reading it. A Tale of Two Sisters is a solid, interesting mystery and the journey to its resolution is both exciting and entertaining. It is a great introduction to this new series. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed the author’s other series, like cozy mysteries featuring the paranormal, especially witches, and even readers who would enjoy a light, fun mystery featuring sisters and antiques.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

View my original review on Reedsy Discovery!

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