Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Sequel to Devil’s Own
The Wheel Mysteries: Book Three – Litha Festival
When Gus Goodwin’s friend and mentor, Juliette Hayes, asks him to find out who’s stealing small sums from the cashbox of her Moonlight Haven Coven, Gus agrees. What’s the worst that could happen? They catch a small-time thief and, with any luck, retrieve a few bucks. Gus enlists the help of his boyfriend, PI Niall Valentine, and Niall’s retired police officer father, Owain, to go undercover and solve the mystery.
On the night of the next full moon ritual, however, the coven is struck with a fatal blow.
Now Gus and Niall face more than a murder mystery. The coven is torn apart, and along comes an eccentric psychic and Tarot master—plus a familiar face both Gus and Niall had hoped was long gone. As fireworks ignite and wild cards are spread, Gus and Niall have their work cut out for them.
Last year after I finished reading the first two stories in The Wheel Mysteries, (Sparks & Drops, Devil’s Own) I interviewed the author, Susan Laine, to talk about the Wiccan religion and the series, which I love. One (of the many) things that came from that fascinating interview, was that this is an eight-book series, one story for each Wicca festival. Fireworks & Wild Cards focuses on the midsummer solstice festival of Litha, the celebration of the longest day of the year. Into the fabric of this story of murder, mystery and love, Laine continues to weave in-depth knowledge of the Wiccan religion, its fundamental tenets, history, rites and fight for acceptance. This unique framework has made this series not only one of my anticipated “reads” as each new story rolls out, but the author’s wide scope of knowledge and ability to make this religion accessible through her characters and plot make it a highlight of the year.
This book picks up directly after the events of Devil’s Own, a book that moves its characters, all of them, into a time of change and uncertainty. The main characters, Gus the Wiccan bookstore owner, and Niall, the private detective, are 3 months into their new relationship and it’s a little unsteady on its new feet. For some readers, that will be a little surprising. Most of us are used to books that move the romance and relationship right along at a steady clip. That doesn’t happen here (8 books remember). So the opening scenes and chapter where a simple conversation blows up into something unexpected might take some readers aback. That’s when you have to remind yourself that this is still a very new relationship between two very strong people who weren’t even sure they were looking for love when it smacked into them. Niall and Gus are still trying to find their way with each other and their new status as lovers. I really like that about this couple and story.. Their attraction and feelings for each other were quick to form but we never question that they are deeply felt and real. But like any believable couple, they question their partnership, feelings and course of the relationship. Miscommunication happens!
So believable a couple. I just love that and them.
Now add in two or more plots that move across a landscape of the Wiccan religion and things turn engrossing. Each story involves a self contained mystery and murders that normally get solved by the end of the story. However, there is also a larger intrigue at work in the series. And each book moves that umbrella storyline forward clue by incremental clue. How I love the layers the author weaves into these books and relationships.
Another strong element here and throughout the series are the multidimensional characters. This includes women and men. There are the members of the Moonlight Haven Coven, including head priestess, Juliette Hayes, Owain Valentine (Niall’s retired police officer dad), and the return of Autumnsong, an enigmatic persona as elusive as the mist. It’s primarily through their interactions with each other and the mysteries that center on the Coven and Gus that allows Laine to explore the rites and beliefs of the Wiccan religion. And the prejudices that exist against it.
The only issues I have with this book and the others is the fact that I feel they end too soon. Perhaps that’s because I always want more…of the couples and their relationships and more of the series storyline. I am beginning to see more than just the vague outline of a sinister plot at work, the clues are pointing a certain way but the speculation is killing me! And I have 5 more books to go!
So what’s in store for us in The Wheel Mysteries stories to come? Let’s hear it from Susan Laine herself.
From my interview with Susan Laine:
“There are eight wiccan festivals, or sabbats, in a year that coincide with similar festivals in other religious and secular calendars: Samhain or Halloween, Yule or Christmas, Imbolc or Candlemas, Ostara or Easter, Beltane or May Day, Litha or Midsummer Festival, Lughnasadh or Lammas, and lastly Mabon which has no historical or modern equivalent. The cycle of these eight seasonal celebrations together forms the Wheel of the Year.
Lughnasadh, the harvest festival, is up next, and that story will feature Autumnsong more prominently, as we get to know what makes him tick.”
I can’t wait! Until then you will find me rereading the first 3 stories, looking for clues and enjoying the start of an unusual and deeply loving relationship. And yes, I highly recommend this story and series!
Cover art by Brooke Albrecht. Love these covers. The design is beautiful, its relevance spot on, and it forms a cohesive branding with the other stories and covers. Great job.
ebook, 210 pages, also in paperback (DSP)
Published June 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
seriesThe Wheel Mysteries #3
other editions (1)
The Wheel Mysteries to date in the order they should be read:
- Sparks & Drops (The Wheel Mysteries, #1)
- Devil’s Own (The Wheel Mysteries, #2)
- Fireworks & Wild Cards (The Wheel Mysteries, #3)