Sometimes trusting the cover works, sometimes it doesn't. I picked up Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic because it was free (on Nook and Kindle), and I was looking for a nice, light, fluffy, low-violence read to offset some of the more violent, darker stuff(1) I have been reading lately. It is not at all light. Not that Doidge gives an excess of gory detail—she does not—but the murders and the motive here are deeply nasty.
Jade owns a bakery where she crafts elaborate and beautiful cupcakes which she gives whimsical and sometimes suggestive names like "Love in a Cup," "Bliss in a Cup," and "Sunshine in a Cup." She is a half-witch with the minor power of dowsing for magic: She can sense it in people and objects, and people with magic tend to be attracted to her. As a hobby, she collects objects with a minor magical residue and crafts them into "trinkets," mostly necklaces and sun catchers. Then, someone is murdered and drained of blood and a vampire informs Jade she's the chief suspect. Soon, there are werewolves involved as well, and Jade finds herself busy trying to solve the murders.
There are several good points about Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic. I love a main character who has and loves a craft, and Jade does love her cupcakes. Also, chocolate! And descriptions of chocolate! Mmmm. The process of making "trinkets" also sounds like a nice, relaxed hobby that creates something beautiful. Even when they gain in importance, they still sound lovely and fun to make.
Doidge writes good, clear prose, and has a good sense of timing. There are humorous moments, and the tale itself unfolds at a good pace. The opening description which helped the cover lure me in, is strong, and she keeps the pace well. The mystery itself is only mildly mysterious: The obvious suspect is, in fact, the killer. It is easy to see why Jade does not spot this, but I am surprised that the vampire and werewolf detectives do not figure things out sooner.
Jade is, like many heroines of mystery series, described as extraordinarily beautiful—blond, athletic, tanned and etc, something which is becoming a pet peeve of mine, though Jade's case is less annoying than it often is because Jade herself is quite matter of fact about it and has not found it to make her life notably better or worse and it is not bringing throngs of adoring admirers to her door.
Unfortunately, though, this is coupled with Jade learning that she is Special after all. I liked her as a low-level magic worker who found herself over her head and had to use her wits to solve things. It turns out she is not, and both vampire and werewolf know this.
Doidge has put some work into her magic system, which was consistent and balanced. The relationship between magical people and "normal" folk is a little blurry: They do, apparently, intermarry. How often or under what conditions, or who they tell about their powers and why is not entirely clear—yet. It is sufficiently clear for the story at hand, and Cupcakes is the first book in a series that will presumably develop this area further.
Bonus point: The vampire finds Jade "intriguing," but not in a romantic sense. In fact, it looks as if, if he ends up dating anyone at all, it will be Jade's mother, which is kind of fun.
The book did not end up being what I was looking for, but I can see where it would appeal to those in search of a fast-paced, magic-laced, mystery with some possibility of romance in the future and a dark strip down the middle.
(1) Much of it very good—the set includes a reread of Sunshine for one thing—I just needed a break.
(2) It also turns out that
Her mother and grandmother didn't tell her about her Special ability in order to keep her safe from those who might exploit her. Since three different people figure out her ability, two of them very quickly, it seems a remarkably foolish choice for two otherwise intelligent women. It seems like training her to use the gift—which she finds she needs and has to figure out by instinct—and protect herself would have been a much better choice.