Magic and Macaroons is the fifth Magical Bakery Mystery featuring kitchen witch and one-third owner of the Honeybee Bakery, Katie Lightfoot. Katie has been in Savannah, Georgia for a year and a half now, and is still learning about the Craft from the members of the spellbook club. Mimsey Carmichael specializes in flower and color magic and dabbles in divination, while Bianca Devereaux focuses on traditional Wiccan spell work and moon magic. Jaida French is a tarot expert, and Cookie Rios — well, she’s a generalist since she turned away from the voodoo she grew up with in Haiti.
But Katie’s specialty is hedgewitchery, or green magic, like her aunt Lucy whom she works with in the bakery. Together, they use their special knowledge of herbs and spices to gently bewitch the delicious goodies they bake up at the Honeybee with spells for love, prosperity, health, peace and more. She’s also learned that she’s a lightwitch, and while that might account for why she stumbles into so many murder investigations involving magic, she still doesn’t know exactly what else being a lightwitch entails. Her mentor in that regard, Detective Franklin Taite, is now dead, and she’s waiting for the replacement he promised would show up in her life.
As Magic and Macaroons begins, it’s an unseasonably hot August in Georgia, and Katie is battling the heat with cool treats for the Honeybee patrons. But then a meeting of the spellbook club is interrupted by a stranger collapsing on the floor of the bakery, mumbling something about a missing talisman and voodoo queens. Soon an impossibly dead body is added to the mix.
Katie is compelled to investigate, and the first thing she does is enlist a reluctant Cookie Rios’ help to find out more about Savannah’s infamous voodoo queens and the possible uses for the missing talisman. She meets several members of this largely underground community, all quite different, and all possible suspects at first.
But they aren’t the only suspects, and with the help of the members of the spellbook club, her boyfriend, Declan McCarthy, Declan’s improbable Uncle Connell, and Steve Dawes, Katie tracks the magical killer.
I’m fascinated by the different aspects of magic, and how they relate to everything from quantum physics to psychic readings. However, friends became a bit alarmed when I started researching voodoo. It has a reputation for dark magic, for voodoo dolls and curses. I heard quite a few interesting stories during the year I conducted research.
However, there are many, many flavors of voodoo/voudou/vodou/hoodoo. Almost all are based on West African religions that date back centuries, but many of those have been added to, subtracted from, or altered by local culture. In the end, my goal was to address the magical aspects of voodoo with the respect I try to show all magical or pagan practices in the series. I did a lot of reading (a LOT), and spoke numerous times with a voodoo queen a friend referred me to. She was enormously helpful.
One thing I learned from my exploration of voodoo? Well, here’s how Cookie Rios puts it in the book when she’s trying to explain the ideas of dark and light magic to Katie: “[Voodoo] is black. It is white. It is purple and green and red. You and the others always talk about gray magic, as if the only colors of magic can be found on some continuum between white and black. But magic is bigger, wider, deeper than that.”
This more expansive vision of magic rings true, however you happen to define it in your own life. Besides the spell work side of things, there’s always a lot of food in the Magical Bakery Mysteries! For Magic and Macaroons, I include a recipe for coconut macaroons (what else?).
My (Katie’s) version is also a thumbprint cookie. You can fill the center indentations with any kind of jam, but I also provide recipes for making your own pineapple jam and pomegranate jelly. The other recipe is for Pao de Quiejo, or Brazilian cheese bread. I am completely addicted to these cheese puffs made with tapioca flour, and had to share how super easy they are to make.
As an added, if unintentional, bonus, all these recipes are gluten free.
Next up: Enchanted Garden Mystery #1! This is a new series starting in January of 2016, which I write as Bailey Cattrell. The first one is called Daisies for Innocence (the titles reflect the language of flowers) and features perfumer and gardener (miniature fairy gardens!) named Elliana Allbright. And, of course, I’m also working on Magical Bakery Mystery #6, Spells and Scones!
For information about all my books, please visit cricketmcrae.com