Book Review: Amuletto Kiss by Gina Lamanna

When I first started reading this series by indie author Gina Lamanna, I thought it would be a cool mix of fantasy meets a cozy mystery.  Being a fan of both, I was intrigued.  But looking closely at characteristics of both genres, I realized that it is better described as a cozy mystery with a fantasy setting.  Cozy lovers will find this book a lot of fun while fantasy lovers will find it lacking in the emotional depth and insight into today’s societal problems.  This series of books is a lot of fun to read and are perfect for a bubble bath and a glass of wine, a relaxing vacation, or as an amusing escape after a hard day of work.

As a cozy mystery all the boxes are checked.  Amateur detective (Lily Locke) – check; a loved one in the police force (Ranger X – the dreamy head of the witch version of a police force called the Rangers) – check; an enclosed world (an island for magical beings hidden away from the rest of the world) – check; the detective has a job where she interacts often with the public (Mixology and Magic potions bar and shop) – check and check.   It meets all characteristics and excels at them.  Lily Locke is charming and fun, bungling her way through the magical world that is new to her and solving mysteries along the way.  She has a rare innate ability to create a potion, which is the title of each book, that is ultimately just the thing she needs to successfully solve the crime and save the day.

The cast of characters is eclectic and endearing, with a spirited, younger-than-her-chronological-years grandmother, a cousin who is a vampire with a blood intolerance, a boyfriend who is strong and handsome, and a mentor/helper who is the grumpy fatherly type.  This cast of characters is reminiscent of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, one of my personal favorites.

Though it has touches of the fantasy genre, if you try to compare it to an epic fantasy series of which there are many authors to cite, such as Tolkien, Goodkind, Rowling, and so many more, you may find it lacking.  It contains magic and magical beings, so it has a surface check but the deeper elements that bind the fantasy genre are missing. The inherent nature of good and evil and a deep personal struggle are there but a pale reflection found of the themes found in epic fantasy novels.  And the most important aspect of fantasy, the foil reflecting a current day societal issue, is not apparent.  I’m not sure that anyone could marry the two genres successfully as those traits this series lacks conflict with the cozy mystery traits and would compromise its classification in that genre.

As I have said, from a person who spent a month reading the entire Agatha Christie series featuring both Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, this series does not disappoint.  I have thoroughly enjoyed all five books and look forward to the 6th.

Also see my new website specifically for lovers of mystery and fantasy fiction.