Holly Jackson, a scholarship student at Shellesby College, has been entrusted with organizing the Night Lights Ball, which will include a number of renowned botanists as well as donors to the college’s greenhouses. Amidst the father-daughter Berkeley duo, inclined to throw out Holly any chance, at this night ball event Holly must not only save the last thread of her scholarship from snagging but also secure an internship at Boston Botanical Garden. But will she succeed in evading her tendency to attract trouble this time? Or is she to witness a murder right in front of her eyes, but also to act to prevent another one from occurring?
The author Kira Seamon, who grew up in a greenery infused home in Hawaii, colored the setting of her novel Dead Cereus with diverse greenhouses, an idea she got while visiting Wellesley College in Boston. The enchanting description she gives of botany in her novel seems as natural and explicit as if written while seated in the same place.
Throughout the mystery thriller, the characters reflect human feelings in different ways and emerge as unpredictable at times. There are many delightful botany puns within the witty conversations between William, the admired and brilliant young botanist, and Holly, the impulsive and powerful woman which greatly contributes to the romance thriller. The story turns out to show a significant social transformation in Ivy Berkeley, who transitions from being a stuck cocoon set up by her father and societal norms into a freed butterfly with full wings for flight.
The action-packed story and descriptions of college greenhouse residents, as well as the fresh foods straight from the greenery surrounding the campus do not let the limited setting of the book, in and around the college campus, get in the way. Throughout this enchanting story, readers will enjoy the puns used by the botanists, especially in naming their pets and loved ones.
In a disturbing scene, the author describes a murder which takes place in a greenhouse. The murder, exposed amid the beauty of botany around, gives an upsetting picture, which is both surprising and unusual. By describing the various plants and flowers species in the novel, the author reveals and emphasizes the danger and magnificence of botany while setting the plot in the middle of it. Besides the beautiful illustration of the Cereus flower blooming, there is also a warning of possible fatal damage of plant species.
If you are seeking a humorous romance thriller, or cozy mystery novel, Dead Cereus will herb your enthusiasm with its ardent characters and thrilling plot.
Cozy mystery readers who look for more than a light dose of humor that permeates unexpected conundrums will relish the tone and style of Dead Cereus, which packs a punch with puns, perplexing situations, and plants.
The rare night-blooming cereus plant will blossom at a gala planned to celebrate its opening, but audiences attracted to the spectacle include a clever killer who challenges Holly's life. Her scholarship at Shellesby College is on the line, but blows to her reputation and life goals set her adrift as her plot to become Professor Ogletree's intern goes awry.
She joins forces with William Smith, a sexy master gardener who takes care of all the rare plants and woos her with meals, plants, and passion, but the elusive killer keeps them guessing as the threats mount.
As romance, amazing food, and deadly struggles ensue, readers will find Kira Seamon's sense of humor spices events to create a spunky, determined, beautiful, amazing character whose close encounters are vividly depicted.
The result is a story that excels in the unexpected, from the twists and turns Holly takes in pursuit of her different goals to the plant- and food-driven plot which embraces gardening and romance alike.
Readers who like passion, plants, and love stories are in for a treat with a cozy mystery that is both hilarious and heartwarming. Dead Cereus is also highly recommended for any library interested in a cozy story that operates beyond the usual small-town depictions.
Securing a scholarship, defeating a rival, and catching a murderer in a single night is definitely impossible, but Holly Jackson is determined to do it all in the thrilling adventure in Dead Cereus.
Mischievous Holly Jackson is excited to be there at Shellesby College’s Night Lights Gala to attain her scholarship and watch the rare night-blooming plant cereus open its petals. She has an arch-nemesis, Ivy Berkeley, and she is determined to beat her, but things take a drastic turn when something highly disturbing occurs on the most awaited night. Holly’s enthusiasm and excitement turn sour when she witnesses the murder of a guest right before her very eyes. Nevertheless, Holly is a determined and brave young woman who resolves to find the killer to win the scholarship at any cost. Together with the help of her loyal grad student boyfriend, William, she must befriend her rival to find the killer and save her scholarship. But will Holly be able to save her life, the life of her rival, win the scholarship, and catch the murderer all in one night?
Dead Cereus by Kira Seamon is a highly thrilling tale following the disaster-prone protagonist, Holly, who is an absolute dear even though she has a dreadful ability to wreak havoc. Seamon is a debut writer with a brilliant talent for creating a captivating narrative wins readers with its witticism, nuanced characters, and cunning plot. The prose is gorgeous and the narrative voice is strong. In Dead Cereus, readers will follow Holly into an exciting night of adventure and intrigue as she and William, an admirable and caring young botanist, look for the killer on campus grounds.
Kira Seamon writes interesting details into the narrative, bringing life into the story with botanical details and creating characters that are not only sophisticated but unforgettable. The plot is twisty, opening with a strong premise and propelled forward by the author’s deft handling of intrigue and suspense. The inner world of the characters is expertly explored, especially that of the female protagonist, a world brimming with internal conflict. The narrative is filled with manic energy and it never lacks the humor that keeps readers going through the story from one focused scene to the next. Dead Cereus is satisfyingly terrifying, laced with adventure, and haunting in an intoxicating kind of way. The author introduces a protagonist that readers will adore and a daring assignment that keeps them alert as they watch to see how it all ends.
REVIEWED BY FRANKLIN BAUERReview Date: January 8, 2022
Category: Young Adult - Mystery
Quirky, intriguing characters take a wild ride through the academic streets of the prestigious Berkeley College in this irresistible mystery by the debut author Seamon. The Shellesby college’s Night Lights Gala is Holly Jackson’s chance to secure her scholarship. But when murder of a visiting guest occurs right before Holly’s eyes, her dream of getting her scholarship secured seems to be shattering in pieces. But Holly is one determined young woman. If she needs to catch the murderer in order to get her scholarship, she is ready to do that as well. William, utterly caring and genuinely likeable, and Holly, a total darling despite her panache for creating havoc around her, make for a winning pair of protagonists. Readers will find them thoroughly irresistible. Seamon layers her story with wit and verve, expertly mining Holly’s proneness to disasters, her endearing relationship with William, and the secrets that simmer under the surface. Human drama, individual struggles, love, secrets, and wit and romance abound, and the atmospheric setting and tight plotting keep the reader engrossed. Layered, nuanced plotting and engaging characters power a lighthearted, witty mystery. Seamon is an author to watch.
Seamon weaves the magic of traditional mystery and delightful romance into an intriguing storyline, taking readers on an exhilarating journey of a young woman’s struggle to sort out her academic life while stuck in the middle of a murder investigation. Holly Jackson is at the end of her rope: her parents have disowned her, and the college director doesn’t like her. With her scholarship at Shellesby College hanging by the thinnest thread, Holly knows she must be at her best at the college’s Night Lights Gala. But when Holly witnesses a murder, her life turns upside down. She must race against time to save her arch nemesis, secure her scholarship, and catch the murderer. Seamon is an excellently descriptive writer, sprinkling the narrative with images of herbal teas and concoctions at the Botanical college of Providence’s greenhouse (“ice cream from the college’s fresh vanilla beans, exotic teas, yummy dishes”), endearing relationship between Holly and William, and exotic plants and herbs (“shell ginger grove with its clusters of yellow and white flowers, the exotic Venus flytrap, the intimidating Rainforest Room”). Seamon takes her time setting up the story, and it’s only after a while that a major twist (Holly loses her internship to Ivy) heats up the things, and the pacing picks up. From there, the intriguing tale moves rapidly as a murder and an attempted kidnapping throw Holly into the middle of a dark web of long-buried secrets and sinister motives. Seamon’s engaging narrative places readers right in the middle of a quirky landscape that’s awash with vibrant academic life and cozy warmth of individual connections. The mystery of the professor’s bizarre murder is at the dark heart of an unfolding human drama that will leave readers reeling, and the plot is layered and nuanced. Holly, with all her obvious faults remains a solidly engaging character. William is an absolute darling. The plot is tight and propulsive and the finale hearteningly satisfying. Seamon is a master at creating atmospheric settings, and cozy mystery lovers will find it easy to fall under her spell. An appealing, witty heroine, a gem of a leading man, and well-constructed setting and plot make this one a must-read for both mystery lovers and fans of chick-lit literature. Readers will look forward to more of Holly and William’s adventures.
Dead Cereus by Kira Seamon is a cozy mystery with just the right touch of romance. The book starts off with incredibly upbeat energy and fast pacing that the author maintains throughout the story. The reader cannot help but be delighted by the main character, Holly, and her string of mishaps, mayhem and moments of brilliance. Creating a main character that is both relatable and also admirable is not an easy feat, but author Kira Seamon manages to do just that in her book, Dead Cereus. Supporting characters add to the flow of events and encourage dialogue that is both witty and zany. The mystery becomes apparent and really takes off a little way into the story, but it is well worth reading the setup and character introductions in the opening chapters to reach the first major plot twist.
Dead Cereus by Kira Seamon both surprised and intrigued me. The author was able to create an entire world without bogging the reader down with unnecessary details. She combined fascinating information about plants with the interesting dialog and good pacing that kept the story moving forward. The author kept the list of characters to a manageable level and cleverly tied their motives and personalities into the mishaps and murders within the story. The eventual friendship between the main character, Holly, and her arch-enemy, Ivy, toward the end of the story was a lovely touch and just one of the many reasons the reader will like the main character and cheer for her throughout each chapter. I will hope for more books that bring the characters back for another mystery.
by Kira Seamon
book review by Kate Robinson
"In the greenhouse, we don’t learn from our mistakes. We grow from them!"
Food, flowers, fun, and a chocolatey murder light up this cozy mystery/romance novel. "With her scholarship at Shellesby College hanging by the thinnest thread," sparky undergrad Holly Jackson must find a way to redeem herself in the eyes of Director and Professor Emeritus Ashton Berkeley. He also just happens to be Ivy Berkeley's father, Holly's gorgeous rival who seems to have everything Holly lacks—except Holly's loyal grad student boyfriend, William Smith. Will has eyes only for "Hurricane Holly," but that doesn't stop Ivy from batting her eyes at him any chance she gets.
Holly must secure Berkeley's favor to end her academic probation and compete with Ivy for a coveted internship with Professor Ogletree, a controversial chocolate industry magnate, by acing her assignment as organizer and emcee at the upcoming Night Lights Gala. The conclusion of the annual event is held in the prestigious college greenhouse complex as the rare night-blooming cereus cactus is scheduled to bloom. But when Holly engages in another wildly entertaining mishap involving Ivy and herbal teas while the body of Professor Ogletree is found outside after a scuffle, she's forced to befriend her rival and solve the murder or face the loss of her scholarship.
Seamon's writing is at its best when she delves into her atmospheric descriptions of flora and botanical plants and the luscious natural foods and drinks concocted from plant ingredients (recipes are included in the back). All of the plants are found within the varied landscapes of the college greenhouse complex. Interesting characterizations, humorous, multilayered plot twists, and an old-fashioned sweet romance make this book an appealing read for romance and mystery enthusiasts, who will undoubtedly want to see more work from this debut author.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
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DEAD CEREUS earns SILVER AWARD + FOUR STAR REVIEW from Literary Titan!