When I found out one of my favorite cozy mystery writers was starting a series of magical realism stories, I was THRILLED!! When each was book was released, I bought them but set them aside and didn’t read them!! Time got away from me then, but I’m catching up now. And I can tell you… they’re every bit as good as I hoped they’d be.
Author: Heather Webber
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Review Copy: owned
Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.
It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.
As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.
Like I said in the intro, I’d been a fan of Heather Blake’s (Webber’s) paranormal cozy mysteries for a long time, so when I saw this new title from her, I had a feeling it would be something I’d like. Then I read the writeup and realized she was writing magical realism, and I was THRILLED! I LOVE magical realism, and I was SUPER excited to read this.
What I Loved:
I listened to this book on audio, so I’ll start by saying that I LOVED the narrator. She did an amazing job of immediately putting me in that small town, close knit, charming and quirky and just a bit magical location.
Anna-Kate goes to her family’s hometown to honor her late Grandma Zee’s wishes regarding the family’s Blackbird Café, with plans to leave when she can to fulfill the promise she made to her late mother. The people of Wicklow, Alabama create both a safety net for her, and a catalyst for finally putting together the pieces of her puzzling family history. The café is such an important part of the town, and not only because people loved Anna-Kate’s grandmother. There’s something special about the blackbirds in Wicklow, and something special about the Blackbird Pie.
That puzzling family history she’s trying to piece together becomes a picture of great loves found and lost, grief and eventually forgiveness, and the powerful bonds of family through good times and bad. It seems that just about everyone in Wicklow had their own idea about what happened in the past, who should be blaming who, and whether or not it’s appropriate to wear shoes in the house, lol!
It was sometimes delightful, and sometimes heartbreaking to be with Anna-Kate while she learned all of the secrets that the town and its people had to share. Getting to know each of them, and how they were connected, was really interesting. A few times I thought I knew where a particular thread was going but was pleasantly surprised! Then a few of those surprises had their own, not always pleasant surprises. The characters were all so complex, and yet, they were simple folk, just trying to do the best they could.
What I Didn’t Love:
A few of the revelations towards the end of the book made me a bit sad. I wish things had been a little more lighthearted. But they were necessary to tie up some loose ends and made perfect sense in the story. My own preference for all-of-the-happy-all-of-the-time is as close to something “I didn’t love” as I can get for this one. Heather did an incredible job of telling a complicated story with heart and grace.
Final Thoughts / Recommendations:
The residents of Wicklow, Alabama, and their unusual-but-amazing blackbirds were a joy to get to know. And thanks to Heather Webber’s incredible storytelling, they do feel like friends you’ll want to check in on from time to time. This was absolutely the story I was hoping it would be, and I’m so excited to read more like this from her.
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