Review: Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French

Mystery at Maplemead Castle (The Chapelwick Mysteries #2)Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m loving this series from Kitty French. It’s funny and quirky, with a bit of romance, a lot of mystery and more than a few ghosts. It’s a bit of an odd combination of genres but with French’s brilliant writing and witty dialogue it just works.

I can’t wait for more in this series.


The Blurb (from Goodreads)

Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.

Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.

A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?

Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.

Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?


Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of Kitty (and Kat) French for a while now and would rate The Piano Man Project and The Skeletons of Scarborough House among my favourite reads of the past couple of years. As a fan of The Skeletons of Scarborough House, the first book of the Chapelwick Mysteries series I was very excited to receive this, the follow up from publishers Bookouture (via Netgalley) and abandoned my current read to make a start on this immediately.

I had previously fallen in love with the slightly oddball collection of characters and couldn’t wait to see what they were up to now. The book begins almost where the previous finished up with Melody Bittersweet and the Girl’s Ghostbusting Agency landing their second case, a castle haunted by some troublesome circus performers. Melody and the team spring into action but it seems these ghosts don’t want to be busted and Melody is forced to team up with her ex. To make matters worse a certain journalist who’s very attractive but believes she’s a fraud has been tasked with shadowing her.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery Melody agrees to stay at the castle but can she uncover the reason why the ghosts repeat the same act each night before her ex and rival and can she resist journalist Fletcher Gunn. This is a mystery, a haunted house story and a romance all rolled into one and it’s brilliant fun.

What I love about French’s books are the quirky and unique characters she creates and the friendship between them. From Melody who can see ghosts, has a serious sugar addiction and is attracted to the wrong men, to her outrageous grandmother who has a largely liquid diet they are all brilliantly crafted with both flaws and strengths. They do occasionally venture towards over the top but that’s part of the fun.

Despite the slightly wacky characters and hilarious dialogue, it’s not all light and fluffy. There are occasional sad and poignant moments which do kind of get to you (yes I cried). Something I didn’t expect. The characters also develop and grow over the course of the series and I thought that this was particularly the case in this book. I found myself feeling some sympathy and actually seeing the attraction of a certain character who annoyed me in the previous story.

Kitty French writes some brilliant romances and she demonstrates this skill here. There is some real chemistry between Melody and a certain journalist (and nemesis). I found myself waiting for their scenes together. They argue, they tease each other and they are completely different but there is a definite spark which makes for addictive (and very funny) reading.

As well as the romance the author also manages to create a compelling mystery for Melody to solve, something I won’t go into in any depth for fear of spoilers.

While this is the second in the series it probably could be read as a standalone but it’s such a fun series you may as well start at the beginning and read them both.

Overall a really enjoyable read that’s perfect when you’re looking for something light, quirky and incredibly funny. If that’s not enough of a sales pitch, I will just add “ghost lion”. I can’t wait for the next book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me with an ARC

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