Annabelle Amelia Blessingsound Britton comes to Portsmouth to visit her friend Martine Devereux. Martine is the chef at the Pale Ale Inn. But a weekend trip turns into a much longer stay as she realizes her family has many more ties to the town than she knew. Of course, meeting a certain cat named Alastair had a bit to do with her sticking around too. This cat is a mystery and how his former person died is a mystery too. Another death makes Annabelle start to stick her nose in other people's business and that can be pawsitively dangerous.
Annabelle is an artist and a free spirit. From a very early age she would get a "vibe" from her surroundings. Good "vibes", bad "vibes", sometimes no "vibes". She never understood why this happened to her but the picture becomes much clearer now that she is in New Hampshire and meets a very interesting group of woman. Since the synopsis on the back of the book tells you this already, yes, they are witches. A very eclectic group of witches. Yes, we know this before even starting the book but Annabelle didn't. I really enjoyed her making this discovery and trying to wrap her head about how her life takes a very dramatic turn. I also enjoyed getting to know the supporting cast. I feel we have barely scratched the surface of their depth.
This entire story is very well written with snappy dialogue and curly Q twists. I absolutely fell in love with Alistair as every cat lover will.
Now as for the setting and I don't mean Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I mean that beautiful cottage shown on the cover. Glorious inside and out, gardens galore and a true home. I would pack my bags and move there in an instant, witches or no witches, I would adapt :)
Delia James has given a strong woman protagonist who is comfortable with herself and has an open mind. She is also a pretty good sleuth. The story is told in first person and I like when we read her thoughts or when she is talking to herself. It makes her more real and believable to me.
This was a fine debut and shows much promise for what I hope will be a long running series.