Book Review: The Witch Doctor Is In



Ashley is a witch. And a doctor. Which makes her… wait for it… a witch doctor. She’s also the head of the lone hospital in Washington D.C. that caters to patients of the paranormal persuasion. She’s got pixies and kelpies and werewolves and vampires all in need of her care. And she’s about to lose it all…


Nick is a secret service member and one of the recently undead. A vampire. Which really puts a damper on his day… uh… I mean night.


Together they have to work together to solve a mystery, save her hospital, and oh! fall in love along the way.



So…


The story was billed as a suspenseful romantic paranormal comedy cozy mystery. And it managed to get only two and a half of those descriptors correct.


So lets break this down.


Suspenseful… For a novella (this book was maybe 35k) there were too many plots going on. There wasn’t time to build up suspense before we were on to the next thing. Suspense is about the build of the quiet before the storm. If you want to see great suspense in action, go take a look at Sergio Leone or a good horror movie like Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, or Happy Death Day.


Romantic… It’s instalove. I have opinions about that. It’s starting to piss me off. It also features my least favorite kind of sex scene… the kind that shows the foreplay then tells you how many orgasms the heroine had because they don’t want to write the actual act itself. This is again an opinion. So this is the half.. the story isn’t really happy for now and the relationship, while important, wasn’t central to the plot. You could have removed the romance and the story wouldn’t have suffered. THAT’S A PROBLEM!



Paranormal… This one I will absolutely give the author credit. There were oodles of paranormal creatures in this book. Oodles including Centaurs, Gargoyles, and salamanders in addition to the more common Witch, Werewolf, and Vampire. The world was well-fleshed… but that almost was to the detriment of the story. The background was too much in the foreground so the plots got lost in the weeds… sometimes literally.


Comedy… I didn’t laugh. Not once. I didn’t even crack a smile. The writing was very tongue-in-cheek but not in a good way. It took pot shots at people with mental and physical disorders. That’s bullying. It’s punching down. It’s taking the low hanging fruit. And it’s not funny.



Cozy… This is the other one done right. I did feel like this was a part of D.C. but it felt very small. Like an enclave. And the hospital was well described.


Mystery… Oh there was one. It was a crap one. So here’s a pro-tip to people wanting to write mysteries… the reader shouldn’t be shocked at the ending. There should be clues that, to quote Hercule Poirot, if the reader uses their little grey cells they can figure out the ending. I’ve been reading mysteries since I was 7 -- yay Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown -- and I still read them randomly. A good mystery is about the journey. it’s about the reader being the sleuth along with the detective. It’s why shows like Castle, Murder She Wrote, and Death in Paradise are so popular. People like to figure out puzzles. And in this case the mystery just was an ass pull.



The writing itself was fairly solid. A few typos and homophones but nothing too egregious. And nothing to knock it down a star.


The characters were well-fleshed and for the most part okay. I liked Nick more than I liked Ashley, but that has to do with the fact that Ashley seemed to bring a lot of her problems on herself.


The thing is, I didn’t hate this book. I just felt let down. It had so much potential. So much going for it that ticked my boxes. But in the end all I felt was blah.


And because I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it, the story gets:


Three stars.



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