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Title: Pawsitively Poisonous (A Witch of Edgehill Mystery Book One)

Publisher: Ringtail Press

Author: Melissa Erin Jackson

Pages: 201pp

Price: $3.99

Amber Blackwood is a witch. A life-long resident of Edgehill, Oregon, she has carefully kept her magic secret from everyone except close family (the few who are left are witches, as well). As the proprietor of The Quirky Whisker, she specializes in creating unique toys for the children of Edgehill, and she has earned a reputation for being a bit odd, a bit of a loner, but she is well-liked -- by everyone except the Police Chief. Then, when her best friend is murdered, Amber suddenly finds herself at the center of the investigation. If she is to clear her name, Amber will have to use more of her magic in ways she never intended ... and risk revealing her secret to everyone in Edgehill ....

I am always on the hunt for new paranormal mysteries to read, especially those featuring witch detectives. As such, I quickly downloaded Pawsitively Poisonous when an advance reader copy became available.

This is a wonderful first book in a new series. Amber is spunky but sweet, highly creative, loyal, compassionate, and determined. She is devoted to her community, even volunteering for the annual Here and Meow Festival (yes, the town is cat crazy). Her magic matches her personality: it likes to create, to heal, to console. But it also responds to her intentions, her will; when she thinks or states what she wants clearly, when she has no doubts or internal conflicts, her magic responds.

Amber is supported by an interesting array of family, friends, acquaintances, and frenemies. Her sister Willow (also a witch) is a graphic designer. Her old high school friend Kimberly is a high-strung redhead with a good heart, while older Betty runs the Purrfectly Scrumptious bakery across the street and is one of Amber's strongest supporters. And, of course, there are Tom and Alley, her two cats who have little patience for Amber's creations.

The mystery itself is engaging, with enough suspects to keep me guessing until nearly the end of the book. I particularly liked how Amber used her magic to further her investigation: she dips into people's memories, gets them to admit uncomfortable truths, and even puts a coroner to sleep so that she cast another spell to uncover hidden evidence. Such spells raise a number of ethical questions, sometimes for Amber, and definitely for the reader.

According to the title list at the end of Pawsitively Poisonous, Jackson will be releasing four more books in the series through 2020. I look forward to reading all of them, and learning more about Amber, her magic, and her mysterious family history.

Recommended to fans of Bramble and Blood by Ashley Beasley, Dead Witch on a Bridge by Gretchen Galway, The Arcane Casebook series by Dan Willis, The Wiccan Wheel Mystery series by Jennifer David Hesse, and A Witchcraft Mystery series by Juliet Blackwell.