Review: Game of Crones

Way back when I reviewed Any Witch Way You Can, I mused that I don’t really understand the rules for “cozy” mysteries. Years later I am still confused, because this book has an army of zombies walking around, which is about the most un-cozy thing I can think of, but apparently it’s still a cozy mystery; it says so on the cover. Oh well, maybe I’ll understand someday.

This is a book in the Spell’s Angels series, just one of the many series published by Amanda M. Lee, Ms. “How can one woman possibly write so many books?!” herself. It’s an unusual book for her because it ends in the middle of a larger storyline, whereas Lee’s plots are usually wrapped up neatly in about 50,000 words or less. I was actually kind of annoyed by this because I expect these books to be one-stop shopping. Now I have to wait for the conclusion to the story, but of course, since its AML, the next book will probably be released in about ten minutes anyway.

The Spell’s Angels series stars Scout Randall, a witch of mysterious lineage who is very good at blowing things up with her spells. She works as a kind of magical exterminator, taking out the paranormal creatures that threaten the citizens of Hawthorne Hollow. This time around, the creatures that are causing trouble are zombies, and it’s too big for Scout’s group to keep a lid on it. Will Scout be able to put together a team to go zombie hunting? Of course she will, but that’s where the book starts to run into problems.

See, many of the AML books take place in the same universe, meaning Scout can call in the characters from other books to help her. This time she taps Tilly Winchester, the zany old witch from Lee’s flagship Wicked Witches of the Midwest series. Tilly is loads of fun, but she’s also very powerful, and once she’s brought in, the zombies seem to be much less of a threat. Many of the series protagonists know each other too, and are located in Michigan, so Scout could conceivably call in Bay Winchester, Stormy Morgan, etc. whenever she needs to; Scout herself was called in to help in a recent WWMW book. It’s pretty cool that we now have this supernatural Avengers team keeping order, but how do you create tension when you’ve got a team of demigods walking around?

On the one hand, I like that the characters act reasonably and lean on each other. It’s always weird in comic books how the X-Men never seem to call the Avengers for help, or vice versa; it’s just typically not done. But it’s like, why would you not call in the friendly, powerful necromancer from two towns over to fight zombies? Of course you would. But now that we have this team of godly paranormals, nothing short of an apocalypse event can even ruffle their feathers.

It probably doesn’t matter that much, since this is book 8 of this series: it is pretty much review-proof at this point. AML has thousands of diehard fans, and if you’re still reading this particular series you’re probably pretty invested in Scout and her friends. But I do wonder if Lee has run into a problem where the characters have just gotten too powerful to be workable as protagonists. And if that’s the case, how does she scale it back? Maybe Scout suffers a head injury and forgets how her awesome powers work?

All that said, this book still offers some action and some laughs, which is the main thing I expect from AML. Oh, some of the laughs come in the form of jokes about pants from Anne Taylor Loft and…you would not believe how obsessed Scout is with these pants. Seriously, half the book is about the pants, I get that Scout is kind of messed up at the moment but wow, you will never think about pants the same way again.

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