This book was formerly called Magic, Mocha, and Murder.

There are so many intense and heavy topics out there right now, like politics, racism, transgender issues, immigration, censorship, and police reform, that it is nice to escape with a lighthearted and easy-to-read book. Jinty James’s Maddie Goodwell series provides me with that escape, as I am sure it would for any reader.

Maddie runs a coffee truck in her town square with her best friend, Suzanne, and her white Persian cat, Trixie. Maddie has witchy abilities but can only cast two spells. With each full moon this year, she will be able to cast a new spell. Her coffee drinks are a town favorite, and she has already won a local competition, which qualifies her to compete one hundred miles away in Seattle. The competition is fierce, but the prize is one thousand dollars and a spot in the national competition. But now she is competing in a large city against seasoned baristas that she has never encountered before.

At the end of the first round of the competition, Maddie is ranked fourth overall. However, the well-dressed and aloof female judge does not seem to be impressed with her. During a break before the final round is set to begin, the aloof female judge is found drowned in a vat of the new MochaLava – a new and disgusting coffee drink that the sponsor of the competition is promoting. Could one of the competition competitors have done it? Could one of the other judges have pushed her in? Are the other competitors or judges at risk?

The detectives ask the remaining competitors to stay overnight in Seattle so that he can finish his questioning. Of course, Maddie and Suzanne decide that they must help solve this murder mystery. With the final round of the coffee competition delayed until next weekend, Maddie and Suzanne head home to Estherville. The final round drink will be mochas, so Maddie spends a lot of time during the week practicing her mocha-making ability. Additionally, while they are home there is a full moon, which means that Maddie will discover what new spell she can cast. Will it be useful?

Once back at the competition in Seattle, Maddie wastes no time in making her best mochas ever. She ends up placing third in the competition, behind her new friends, Ellie and Connor. Even though she did not win the competition, Maddie is proud of her accomplishment and happy to have had the experience. She met new people, tasted other coffees, visited Seattle, and was even offered a job. While Suzanne, Maddie, and Luke (Maddie’s new boyfriend) enjoy a celebration meal, Maddie has a breakthrough in the murder case. However, will she end up putting herself and her friends at risk if she doesn’t get to the detective ASAP? As she searches for the detective, Maddie runs into the culprit who corners her. Thank goodness for her new witchy spell, a moving objects spell, which comes in handy as she escapes just in time to get help.

What could possible happen next?

If you are like me and enjoy an easy-to-read, lighthearted series, this is the series for you. A bouncy sidekick, an adorable cat familiar, dreamy guys, and delicious coffee make for an enjoyable escape. There are several punctuation and quotation mark errors in this book and Maddie does seem immature for a twenty-seven-year-old, but the storyline and the author’s ability to make the reader want to live in Maddie’s world make up for it. Each time I read one of the Maddie Goodwell books, I can leave behind the abundant negativity of today and easily transport to her world. These books can be read in a day or so and are easy to follow along. They would probably work best for sixth grade and above, as well as anyone interested in a cozy witch series.

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