Witches, Warlocks and Magic…Oh my!
Do you consider yourself to be a fan of the paranormal genre? Delightfully exploring the unknown and suspending that natural skepticism which seems to affect us all. How about mysteries and crime thrillers? Perhaps you like nothing better than a classic “whodunnit” as you team up with a cunning detective to solve a murder mystery. If you answered in the affirmative to either of these questions, then Coup De Grace may be a good selection for your reading pleasure. Authors Hollie Hausenfluck and Avrin Kelly have teamed up to pen a novella which explores and embraces both genres, and puts them together in one entertaining read.
The tale is narrated by the main character, Hayden Howell, who is an ornery yet clever detective. After arriving at the scene of a murder, Hayden is confronted by what appears to be a ghost who proceeds to deliver an eerie message. As this apparition continues to follow her everywhere she goes, Hayden soon realizes she has a mystery on her hands and needs some specialized help to solve it. Enter crusty warlock Thierry Adler. Together they learn that the ghost was actually a witch and Hayden has been marked. Only by solving the witch’s murder can Hayden stand a chance of getting her life back to normal. The pair soon join up in an uneasy alliance as they try to solve a murder and chase a madman bent on unleashing evil and havoc on a much grander scale. Can Hayden and Thierry solve the murder mystery in time? Or will they fail and soon bear witness to the devastating evil yet to come?
The plot of this short story was both imaginative and enjoyable. It explores the classic good versus evil theme by exploring the supernatural, while at the same time keeping things grounded with solid detective work. It is a combination which works quite well. Nevertheless, I do believe the plot could have been enhanced further by developing the antagonist in more detail. What really turned him into what he had become? By giving the reader more details and background about Galant and his intrinsic motivation, they will thus become more invested in the final showdown. That being said, the story is a novella which does come with some natural limitations.
While the plot is certainly imaginative and enjoyable, this is clearly a character driven tale. In particular, Hayden and Thierry. Their individual characters are developed very well and they both show considerable growth throughout the novella. However, it is their match and ultimate connection which works so well. They begin their partnership as deeply mistrustful of one another. However, that transforms to a unique and clear respect by the end of the tale. There is also a lot of amusing and colorful interaction between the two which is astutely used to draw the reader into their quest. The two work very well together as a team and bring to mind the classic pairing of reluctant partners who soon discover that they cannot truly succeed without one another. It would be very interesting to see them together in a tale again and see where the partnership actually leads.
Overall, this is a very good short story. The plot is intriguing, the characters are engaging and the setting is alluring. There are a few minor technical editing issues, but nothing that really distracts the reader from full enjoyment of the tale. As there are some mature themes and language, I would recommend this novella to an adult audience.
3.5 out of 5 Enchanting stars for this one!