A vampire stood at the door to my bakery.
My heart skipped a beat. The sun hadn’t even fully set — damn daylight saving time — and the vampire wasn’t even wearing sunglasses or a hat. He was old, then. Or maybe young? I never could remember whether their skin got more or less sensitive with age. But then, I’d never seen a vampire before, so there’d been no reason to remember my vampire lore lessons.
I was a magical dowser of sorts. I found and attracted magical things, so it wasn’t completely weird that a vampire wound up at my door — except the wards protecting my bakery should have safeguarded me from magical detection. If vampires were even capable of detecting magic on that level. Again I had no idea. I lowered my eyes to nestle a sixth cupcake into the box I was currently packing. Maybe if I ignored him, he’d go away.
Jade is a perfectly ordinary young woman with a cupcake café… except insofar as she’s a half-witch who can taste magic. Beyond whipping up batches of cupcakes that are slightly better than they’ve any right to be, and putting together trinkets from pieces of magically-infused bric-a-brac, Jade doesn’t really use magic herself. Her sister Sienna dabbles, mostly ineffectually, in a wider range of spells, but their grandmother’s magical genes seem to have passed them by.
Then one of Jade’s trinkets turns up at a murder scene, burnt out as if someone’s used it to focus their magic, and suddenly everyone is interested in her. From the ancient vampire who turns up at her door, to the pack of werewolves dancing with her in her favourite nightclub, no-one is quite sure if Jade is a killer or a hapless bystander. For that matter, no-one is quite sure what she is: she’s half-witch from her mother’s side but she’s never known her father, and in a world of magical beings, that means she doesn’t really know what her other ‘half’ is. She’s always assumed she was half-witch, half-human, but she might not be human at all.
This is a cosy mystery of the cosiest kind, as you might guess from the inclusion of cupcakes in the title. As such, it adheres to all the conventions of that genre, from the accidental heroine to the love-triangle sub-plot… the story just happens to also include a range of paranormal elements. This is lightweight, quick reading, and you always know the good guys are going to come through in the end, but it’s no less enjoyable for that. And with Jade’s mysterious parentage and unusual skills, there are plenty of questions set up ready for series-level development.