Sunday, October 24, 2021

Review: Death in Castle Dark by Veronica Bond

by Veronica Bond
Release Date: August 3, 2021
2021 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 288 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593335871
Audiobook: B08ZGDSYVJ
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Maybe it was too good to be true, but when Nora Blake accepted the job from Derek Corby, proprietor of Castle Dark, she could not see any downsides. She would sink her acting chops into the troupe's intricately staged murder-mystery shows, earn free room and board in the fairy tale-like castle, and make friends with her new roommates, which include some seriously adorable kittens.

But something sinister lurks behind the walls of Castle Dark. During Nora's second performance, one of her castmates plays the part of the victim a little too well. So well, in fact, that no one can revive him. He has been murdered. Not ready to give up her dream gig--or to be the next victim--Nora sets out to see which one of her fellow actors has taken the role of a murderous real-life villain.
My Thoughts
Death in Castle Dark is the first book in a new mystery series by author Julia Buckley under the pen name Veronica Bond.  I was intrigued by this book as it was set up as a Gothic mystery, featuring a castle and a troupe of actors who perform mystery dinners for their guests.  I thought the idea would be fun, and I always love the idea of castles, secrets, and hidden passageways.  
I really enjoyed the main character, Nora. The owner of the castle hires actual actors for his elegant mystery dinners and the guests actually become 'inspectors' during the dinner.  Nora, as one of the actors, gets to live in the castle as part of her salary. Although she wasn't sure about taking the job at first as she was hoping to score a big Broadway role, the appeal of the location and the different roles she could play convinced her to give it a shot.   And what I really liked about her character was her common sense.  One of the things that often turns me off these books is the lack of common sense in characters as well as the disregard for privacy and the actual police investigation.  While Nora was useful during the investigation, she didn't actively go nosing into places she shouldn't go and actually discovered information through listening to people, what they said and how they said things.   And, anyone who likes the movie 'Spy' , names her kittens after the Bronte sisters, and then picks up  Mistress of Mellyn (during a murder investigation) for pleasure reading is definitely my soul sister.

The secondary characters were quite interesting as well, and I like how the author took the time to flesh them out and develop their individual personalities.  I am looking forward to learning more about them in future books.  

The book itself was well-written, and Nora was not one of those main characters who frustrated me by being a super nosy person, but was someone who actually listened to what people had to say and paid attention to body language.  As an actor, that is something to which she would be familiar.  And while the mystery wasn't too difficult to solve, it was still fun, and I enjoyed the various interactions with the other actors as well as with the townspeople.  I thought the author did a great job writing about Nora's apprehension as she had to continue working with, as well as living with, people who could possibly be murderers. 

Death in Castle Dark was a fun first book in a new series.  I liked the story, the characters, and the setting was definitely appealing.  And while the ending was definitely the weakest part of the book as it lost some of its suspense through the story telling, I am intrigued as to what's in store for these characters in the next book, Castle Deadly, Castle Deep.  I recommend this book to anyone who loves a fun, cozy mystery.



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