Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am over the moon excited to welcome Heather Blake to Escape With Dollycas!
Visiting the Enchanted Village
A travel guide by Heather Blake
The village square was aglow in fairy lights and sparkling lanterns hanging from tree branches. Gaslights cast circles of light onto the stone sidewalks and threw shadows along the connected storefronts and individual shops that lined the main square.
Awnings shaded large plate-glass shop windows, and ivy trailed from flower boxes bursting with bold-hued annuals. A few tourists remained, walking hand in hand along the sidewalk, window-shopping—most of the shops closed at nine on weeknights. Windows glowed in the apartments above the storefronts, and specks of lights twinkled from the streetlamps along the lanes of the neighborhoods beyond the square.
Neighborhoods where magic lived.
–It Takes a Witch
Destination: The Enchanted Village
- A witch-themed neighborhood of Salem, Massachusetts, popular with tourists.
Best time to visit:
- When there hasn’t been a murder.
- But seriously, any time. Every season is enjoyable in this charming neighborhood.
Good eats and drinks:
This bakery specializes in miniature treats that fill you with contentment. Literally, some say.
This family restaurant has had its ups and downs, but on the whole, the food is a delight—when it’s not hexed. Eat at your own risk.
One of the few establishments in the village opens after 9 pm.
- The Witch’s Brew coffee shop
Grab a cup of coffee, a scone, and the day’s local news.
Where to stay:
Be sure to visit with Cookie, a pygmy goat, and Scalawag, a miniature donkey, who are two of the most popular attractions in the village. In the spring and summer, enjoy the vast flower gardens on the property.
- Spellbound bookshop*, The Bewitching Boutique clothiers, The Trimmed Wick candle shop, Lotions, and Potions* bath and body shop, The Black Thorn* florist, All that Glitters jewelry store, the Furry Toadstool pet shop, The Crone’s Cupboard market, The Snuggery furnishings and décor, Ye Olde Gift Shoppe, and Balefire Sports to name a few.
The green is the heart of the village and home to many festivals, fairs, and traveling shows, including the Firelight Psychic festival, the Roving Stones rock and mineral show, the Midsummer Ball, and the Harvest festival*.
- Explore the Enchanted Woods*
Hiking trails twist through the dense, reportedly mystical, forest that surrounds the village.
- In the spring, check out the Pawsitively Enchanting Pet Extravaganza*.
- In the fall, look for the Shakespearian festival set up behind the Wickedly Creative Art Studio*.
- In the winter, cheer for the Wicked Mad Dash adventure runners.
- Enjoy shows year-round at the grand playhouse.
- Bring good walking shoes, the more stylish the better or they could potentially be replaced by Godfrey Baleaux, owner of the Bewitching Boutique. He has a discerning eye, little regard for comfort, and persuasive powers.
- Limited parking available along the main village square. Overflow lots located near the village playhouse and the Sorcerer’s Stove.
- Typical New England weather, except for the hint of magic in the air—that’s a climate characteristic native to only this village.
- Occasionally, the weather will change in the blink of an eye, especially if that wink is from someone in the Merriweather family.
- French, mostly within the walls of the Bewitching Boutique, an oddity no tourist questions.
If you find yourself in need of a helping hand while in the village, check out As You Wish, a personal concierge service run by Darcy Merriweather. There’s not a witch person around who’s more capable of handling a crisis. She’s been known to plan last-minute parties, obtain hard-to-find gifts, dress as the Tooth Fairy to charm a five-year-old, tidy the house of a hoarder, and on many occasions, help solve crimes. Appointments upon request…or upon discovery of a dead body.
*Denotes that a murder or attempted murder has taken place within this establishment or on its grounds. Despite the high crime rate per capita, the village is full of magic and endless charm. A visit is always memorable and is highly recommended.
Thank you, Heather, so much for this wonderful travel guide!
Now let me tell you about the newest book in this amazing series!
To Catch a Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery
8th in Series
1st with this Publisher
Setting – Massachusetts
Crooked Lane Books (August 7, 2018)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B078M3J5D1
Wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather might be a witch with the ability to grant wishes for others, but wishing isn’t going to help her catch a killer…
When wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather’s personal concierge company is hired by elite runner Abby Stillwell to organize the Wicked Mad Dash, a competition that takes place in the Enchanted Village, Darcy is more than willing to help her friend. As blizzard conditions rage on the morning of the race, Darcy’s main concern is the terrible weather—until Abby goes missing…and is later found dead, buried in the snow.
As Darcy investigates her friend’s untimely death, she learns that she didn’t really know Abby well at all. And those closest to the woman—her secret fiancé, her roommate, her ex-boyfriend, and her co-workers at Balefire Sports—seem to have plenty to hide too. As Darcy digs deeper, she uncovers complicated relationships, a possible embezzlement scheme, and allegations of cheating against a top athlete.
Just when Darcy is convinced she’s hit a dead end in the case, a startling burglary and the hunt for Abby’s elusive ex send Darcy down a dark, dangerous trail. It will take the help from friends, family, and a little bit of magic for Darcy to stop a stone-cold killer from striking again.
We arrive in the Enchanted Village just in time for the annual Wicked Mad Dash and a few pranks from new crafter Vince Paxton. He is still finding his place in the village but Darcy Merriweather organizer of the event and wishcrafter wishes he would just cut it out. Of course, she can’t grant her own wishes but she still wants Vince to use his powers for good instead of the chaos he loves to create. It’d bad enough that a blizzard has created whiteout conditions and the person that hired Darci has gone missing.
A huge search finds the young woman dead, buried under a pile of snow. Since the death happened in the village the elder has asked Darcy to investigate and all she finds is that everyone connected to the woman is hiding something. Darcy is going to need more than wishes to solve the crime. In fact, she is going to need the help of all her friends and family to catch the witch and bring the killer to justice.
Every time I visit the Enchanted Village and these characters I am taken aback by the wonderful world Heather Blake has designed. From the village to the forest to the meadow I fully escape right into the realm this author has created. Her descriptions create wonderful imagery in full color and bring the world so alive. So easy to believe and picture each place we visit.
The characters are so full of life too. Whether it be the witches, their familiars or the visitors to the village they are so genuine. You never question the conversations with Archie, the macaw or with mice, Pepe and Mrs. P. You don’t question the physician’s healing powers or all the different magical abilities the people of the village have. This time the focus on Vincicrafters, witches with innate athleticism, fantastic runners. The Bryant family are Vincicrafters and own the local sporting goods store. The place where the victim worked.
There is also drama around Darcy’s sister Harper, who had broken up with her boyfriend, fell into a dark depression and has dedicated every waking moment to her business. On a related note, Dorothy Hansel Dewitt is brewing up plans to overthrow the elder. And Darcy’s her fiancé, Nick Sawyer, police chief for Enchanted Village and his daughter Mimi have moved into her house and have but his on the market.
The author has packed these pages with such a delightful story and a mystery to solve. It is so well written. Twists, turns, and tense moments all lead to a very surprising ending. It flows at a perfect pace. I love the way Nick and Darcy work together. Mutual respect and sharing. They truly are a perfect match.
The Wishcraft Mysteries are a unique series and each book builds from the last one. I am thrilled that it lives on with a new publisher. The author has included some backstory for new readers but you truly need to read the series from the start in order to enjoy the series to the fullest and really get to know the characters and their place in the village. There is a bit of a cliffhanger to this story too. I am honestly tapping my foot, very impatient for book #9. 🙂
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
About the Author
Heather Blake is a pseudonym of Heather Webber, the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Nina Quinn Mysteries and the Lucy Valentine books. Blake has been nominated twice for an Agatha Award. She currently lives in the Cincinnati area with her family.
Follow Heather – www.heatherblakebooks.com
Also by Heather Blake
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”