Reviewed by Jeanne
Bella Jordan’s life was almost picture-perfect: a wonderful son, a husband she adored, a lovely home. The only fly in the ointment was Sam’s mother, a rigid individual who believed no woman would ever be good enough for her son and let Bella know how inadequate she was. Thank goodness Millicent lived a thousand miles away in Chicago; their meetings were infrequent and brief.
Until Sam died.
Now Bella has to load up her precocious son Max and all their possessions to drive across country to live with a woman who has never had a kind word for her. On the way, she ends up in the town of Lily Dale, a little community known for its annual psychic workshops where she finds herself filling in for Leona, an innkeeper who passed away unexpectedly. It’s only delaying the inevitable, but Bella finds herself relieved at the reprieve. She doesn’t buy into the supernatural hoopla surrounding the town although she is surprised at how normal everyone seems—or almost everyone— as they talk about mediums, trances, auras and such.
To complicate matters further, Max becomes instantly attached to a pregnant cat who turns out to belong to the late Leona. The cat bears an uncanny resemblance to a cat who turned up hundreds of miles away at Bella’s home just before she and Max hit the road. It can't possibly be the same cat... or can it? Bella finds herself drawn to the town and its quirky inhabitants, but odd dreams and visions begin to intrude. Even as she resists the notion of ghosts, psychics, and traveling cats, Bella begins to wonder if Leona could have been murdered.
I picked this one up because of good reviews from people whose opinions I trust. Corsi Staub is the author of several series, including a well-reviewed YA series also set in Lily Dale. The characters were appealing, especially Max and Chance the Cat. (Fans of the movie Being There will get an extra kick out of that reference.) The plot was serviceable enough, especially for a first book in a series; many such books spend so much time setting the stage and introducing characters that the plot suffers. This one moved along at a steady pace, which bodes well for sequels.
Chance the Cat is appropriately adorable—as we all know, I judge a series in part on how well the felines are depicted – and I enjoyed learning about Lily Dale. Another important point for me is that characters are likeable. I confess I have to like at least one of the characters in a book or I'm not going to invest the time.
However, what I enjoyed most was the setting. Lily Dale is a real place. It’s the town with a long history of being a part of the Spiritualist movement; the Fox Sisters’ house was moved there from Hydesville, NY. The town does indeed host numerous workshops on clairvoyance and psychic phenomenon, and offers year round access to registered mediums. Since she grew up in the area, Corsi Staub demonstrates a real familiarity with the area and its persnickety weather as well as places of local interest such as the Fairy Trail and Inspiration Stump.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Something Buried, Something Blue which is due out in October.