Monday, April 5, 2021

Review: Haunted Hibiscus by Laura Childs

by Laura Childs
Release Date: March 1st 2021
2021 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0451489691
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

It is the week before Halloween and Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop, and her tea sommelier, Drayton, are ghosting through the dusk of a cool Charleston evening on their way to the old Bouchard Mansion. Known as the Gray Ghost, this dilapidated place was recently bequeathed to the Heritage Society, and tonight heralds the grand opening of their literary and historical themed haunted house.

Though Timothy Neville, the patriarch of the Heritage Society, is not thrilled with the fund-raising idea, it is the perfect venue for his grandniece, Willow French, to sign copies of her new book, Carolina Crimes & Creepers.

But amid a parade of characters dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, Lady Macbeth, and the Headless Horseman, Willow's body is suddenly tossed from the third-floor tower room and left to dangle at the end of a rope. Police come screaming in and Theodosia's boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, is sent to Willow's apartment to investigate. But minutes later, he is shot and wounded by a shadowy intruder.
My Thoughts
Haunted Hibiscus is the next entry in the long-running Tea Shop Mystery book series and I usually tend to really like them. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the rest of the characters, and I liked the actual mystery, it was Theodosia who really turned me off this book and at one point, I actually debated whether to continue or not.  I have never experienced this with one of these books so I decided to continue to see if she changed, but unfortunately, she didn't get any better. And it took two other books in between to get me through this one.  
So, let's start with what I actually liked and what made me give it three stars rather than one star.  DRAYTON CONNELLY all the way!! I love that character.  He is a tea sommelier, an older southern gentleman with manners and taste, who with one look can quell the misbehaved into behaving. His knowledge of teas is outstanding and I love how he delights in the simple things, like reading Poe to a crowd of people who appreciate his knowledge.  
And what can I say? Haunted houses has always been my weakness. Any book that has even an inkling of snooping in a haunted house will get my attention.  Can we say mysteries, secrets, hidden rooms and tunnels? Yup, I'm hooked.  And when Theodosia and Drayton go snooping, I'm with them all the way.  
The mystery itself was interesting, but I thought the ending was rather weak and I didn't buy it.  For a while, there were so many interesting possibilities and I was quite interested to see where the author may take this one.  But nope, it went in a direction I didn't think was plausible.  Too bad because there was an opportunity for some exciting stuff here.
This leads me to where I had the most difficulty with this book: THEODOSIA.  Holy crap, was she annoying!!!!  I should have counted the number of times I rolled my eyes while reading this book, or lifted my eyebrows because she was just so entitled and abrasive.  Despite repeated, and I mean repeated, warnings to stay out of the investigation, she decided to snoop and interfere.  And ironically, she gave crap to a journalist, yes, a journalist, for asking questions, the same thing she was doing herself.  And that is his JOB!!  And I almost choked when she invited herself to a police task force meeting.  WHAT?!?! If she had gone, I would have been done with this series right then and there.  And the way she just accused people, right in their faces, of murdering people, too bad she wasn't sued for slander.  And don't even get me started on how much information she withheld from the police.  And her boyfriend is a detective. Their relationship was also annoying, but that is for another time.  Seriously, I felt like the author was writing about a completely different character.
Haunted Hibiscus was definitely not one of my favourite books in this series, and that was entirely due to Theodosia herself.  I understand this is a cozy mystery book and the main character is not a police detective, but an amateur sleuth;  however, her entitlement and the uppity behaviour towards others turned me right off.  On the other side, I enjoyed the other characters, especially Drayton, and thought the mystery was pretty good until the end. I am really hoping this was just a fluke and Theodosia will not be as annoying in the next book or sadly, I will be parting ways with this series.


  1. I agree. This was not one of her best. Full of awful cliches like she's bored with these characters.