Plot/Idea: This is a light, appealing story that combines mystery and fantasy, populated with delightful characters and an easy, relaxed tone. The author has crafted a clever premise that will charm readers.
Prose: Cardel writes skillfully, crisply unfolding an engaging plot while delivering first-rate entertainment.
Originality: Better Gnomes & Gardens takes advantage of fantasy by incorporating it into a solid mystery that will amuse readers and hook them from the first pages.
Character Development/Execution: Cardel illuminates Bob's nature through the first-person narrative, saving an enjoyable twist—readers eventually learn that Bob isn't even aware of who he really is—for the end.
Date Submitted: August 14, 2022
Cardel infuses the story with coziness thanks to descriptions of a warm community, as embodied by the local coffee shop Bob regularly visits, along with Mysty Haven’s diverse denizens. Bob proves himself open-minded from the first scene when his newspaper boss fires him for penning an article about a Bigfoot sighting by an unreliable Elvis impersonator. His affable reactions to shocking discoveries of magic, even in the aftermath of a near-fatal car crash, charm Mysty Haven’s populace and readers alike. The tone consistently amuses with no angst in the suspense—Bob even takes it well when townspeople assume journalists publish “fake news."
Whether rescuing saucy gnomes or strolling through a garden with a half-moth half-human, Bob remains unfazed by magic and welcomes the idyllic town’s surprises. In fact, for the first time in his life, he feels like he belongs. Flirtation with winking beauties and an accidental encounter with a nude werewolf hint at romance. Cardel offers a classic cozy mystery that will make fantasy readers yearn for Mysty Haven’s magical coffee and for Bob’s next adventure.
Takeaway: Paranormal fantasy readers in search of a pleasant mystery will adore Mysty Haven.
Great for fans of: K.M. Waller’s All’s Fairy in Love and Murder, Debora Geary’s A Modern Witch.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A