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Way Too Light on World Building and Character Development

A Slice of Magic - Frances Mayes

Please note that I received this ARC from NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.


Well I was up for some magical realism because I definitely needed the distraction. Too bad that the story itself was pretty lackluster. You can't promise me a magical pie shop and then not really show anything that magical. This book also seems to be trying for a cozy mystery theme which didn't work at all. The characters in this one were not very developed either. Also some of the reactions that the main character, Susanna had were not believable at all. 


"A Slice of Magic" has handywoman extraordinaire Susanna Daniels traveling to help out her Aunt Erma at her pie shop. Susanna hasn't talked to her aunt in 20 years. She still wonders why her aunt disappeared from her life and so is eager to find out what caused the rift between her aunt and mother. However, when Susanna appears in town of Hocus Hills, her aunt is nowhere to be found and just leaves her a note telling her to keep the pie shop running until she returns. A cast of many (seriously there's a lot going on) appears and there seems to be something odd going on in Hocus Hills.


Susanna is the main character, but honestly, I didn't really get her as a reader. She's terrible at making pies and instead of her trying to call the police to help figure out where her aunt is, her aunts friends just go things will be fine and eat pie. I am not kidding. We hear that Susanna is good at fixing things, but besides a scene where she starts fixing things at the pie shop, we just get numerous references to how handy she is. And of course there's a love interest, but he was super bland. There is a huge reveal about the guy and I was once again baffled by it. 


The other characters are paper thin in this. They all seem to have time to stop by the pie shop. There's a whole thing with a cookie store opening up that can ruin her aunt's pie shop and I ceased to care. And there was a fitness guru who went around shaming people for eating pie (I hated her) and a lot of other characters we barely spend time with. 


The writing was so so. Mayes decides to open each chapter with a question and response form the town's agony aunt named Eloide and I am still baffled why that was even in there. There was a whole thing about Susanna figuring out who Eloide was, but you think the author would have put in pie recipes or something since the whole book was about them. It was a weird narrative choice and I started skipping over them after a while. The book jumps around too much too. We have Susanna trying to deal with the pie shop and then she will have some memories about her aunt and making pies with her, or playing with her, etc. We get tidbits here and there about Susanna's life back home, but people from her home or mentioned, and seldom heard from which once again strains common sense. If I was gone for a week, my friends would all know and be texting or calling to check in. 

The flow was not good. Once Susanna gets to the pie shop and realizes her aunt isn't there the whole book just grinds along. Susanna doesn't know how to bake and why in the world she stayed and didn't call her mother was a question for the ages. There was also way too many things going on for the sake of plot and not common sense.

The town of Hocus Hills should have been charming, but I found half the characters annoying. We get very little backstory on people and Susanna gets a letter explaining everything and I just heavily sighed. The why behind everything was really dumb too. I just couldn't take it seriously. There was no world building at all in this first book which was a mistake. 

The ending was a letdown. Susanna finds out something about her aunt and what led to the rift with her mother and there was zero reaction to it. I just didn't find it believable. This book was fairly short and most of the ARC was then filled with the next couple of chapters of the next book in the series. I think this book is dancing around 200 pages which would explain why the world building wasn't that good.