The Masquerading Magician is a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy cozy mystery. Zoe Faust is both alchemist and amateur sleuth, and her best friend and live-in cook is a French gargoyle, so there is plenty of delicious food. Add to that a promising relationship with a police detective who is determined not to believe in the supernatural, a murder, and some missing jewels, and all the elements needed for a good weekend read are present.
Zoe is settling into her new Portland home quite contentedly; she likes the location and is making good friends. However, she still has problems to solve, chief among them the plight of her friend, the living gargoyle Dorian Robert Houdin. If she cannot find a way to stop him from turning in to stone, he may end up fully conscious but frozen in stone forever. She found stop-gap measure at the end of The Accidental Alchemist, but it relies on drawing from her own life and cannot continue indefinitely. Then, two stage magicians come to town, and Zoe begins to suspect that they may be more than stage actors. Add to that a murder, and she’s got her hands full.
Pandian blends her two genres expertly, letting the fantastic elements mix into the real world pieces in a way that feels entirely natural. These supernatural events could happen without people noticing. Most of them, like Zoe’s alchemy, are very quiet, though still potent. Pandian has also thought out her magic system carefully: Zoe does not know all of the rules, but there a good, solid grounding there that the reader can trust.
The book also combines laying out the long-running mystery while still providing a good, solid tale that fits within the covers of one book.
As an added bonus, the recipes included in the book are not only delicious, they are easy to make at home and none of them use up an entire day’s calories in just reading the recipe the way quite a few cozy recipes do. There are further tasty recipes up on gigipandian.com/recipes/
The Masquerading Magician is the second book in Gigi Pandian’s Accidental Alchemist mystery series, and it lives up to the promise of the first book. While it continues an ongoing dilemma started in the first book, it could be read as a standalone.
The Masquerading Magician comes out on January 8, 2015. Look for it on Amazon or at your local bookstore.
The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery) by Gigi Pandian (2015-01-08), the first book in the series.