12 Slays of Christmas
(Synopsis taken from Amazon)
When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime—exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.
When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut.
I was supposed to read this as a buddy read, but the person totally read it before I even got through chapter 2. I won’t put their name out there because I am classy like that, while I was mad in the moment I have to say after reading this book I ain’t mad at them. This book was an enjoyable and entertaining read. I would use terms like fast-paced, suspenseful in a fun way, and even a touch of sweet romance. I also have to say by the time this book was done I was wanting some of Cookie’s special tea!
One aspect that I greatly enjoyed with this book was that there were multiple characters to fall in love with besides the main character, Holly. There was Cookie, Caroline, Ray, the Sheriff, and so many more. Frost made you care about every single one of them. There was even a point where you began to care about the murder victim. Usually in mystery novels, even cozies, you are supposed to hate whomever is the murder victim. They were despicable for this or that reason. This presented that, but then Frost showed why the character was still human and a part of the wonderful town of Mistletoe. When you have me sad for the deceased in a mystery book, you have done a wonderful job as a writer. Characters were three-dimensional here. They were fleshed out even when they were only on the page for a few minutes, you could tell their personality and what their place was within the story. Frost never left you wondering who was who.
The book had a great deal of suspense, in ways that I would not have imagined. When I thought they were focusing too much on the romance parts, boom something horrible would happen to Holly to even it all out. When too much horribleness was going on, boom the sweet romance happened. There was a perfect balance that I haven’t seen many authors be able to pull off. The other nice part of the plot for this book was that the killer was not someone you immediately suspected, but you could see all the dots that you could have connected as the reader. I love when an author surprises you, but afterwards you go I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT. Everything connects so seamlessly. Something else that I feel is important to mention is that because this was a mystery novel, a lot of time the romance aspects of these books feel like “instant love” but Frost doesn’t do that. While we get a very satisfying conclusion to the romance in this book, which sets up for other books in the series, it happens organically within the story. It builds up to the end, to a wonderfully sweet moment. If you have me going awwww at romance, you get a bunch of hand claps from me. Frost you get them *clap clap*. You made me care about the romance. I went back and forth, since there is a minor love triangle in this. By the end though I was definitely in one camp. I cared though about BOTH people in the triangle! Usually I think one is horrific and that one is the obvious choice. Here I could see both working for the character. I keep hoping the one that didn’t end up with Holly by the end of the book ends up with another character. They seem like they would be a perfect match. Frost, I hope you make this so in the second book!
If you are looking for a book with a lot of Christmas magic in it, this is definitely the book for you. The setting takes place in a town that is Christmas personified. The White family runs a tree farm that has an annual event called “Reindeer Games.” These games are played throughout the book, reminding you that this is clearly a Christmas wonderland that we have trampled into. We get hot cocoa, candy canes, snickerdoodles, christmas tree decorations, sleigh rides, and almost everything Christmasy you can think of. I can see myself rereading this next year and the year after, just to get those Christmas moments that this book shares. This book truly warmed my grinchy little heart and made me remember that Christmas can and should be one of the most magical times of the year!
There is a second book in the “A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery” series that was released this year and I may be reading it now.