Review: NO SAVING THROW by Kristin McFarland

I don’t give “scores” and I don’t review books I didn’t like because who needs that kind of negativity in their lives?

In 2012, I decided to start taking my writing career seriously. I had a novel–a literary novel, to be exact–and I had a (small) list of agents I wanted to query. I had researched how to write a query letter and a synopsis. I was ready to go.

Narrator: She was not ready.

One of the agents I desperately wanted to query represented someone I admired on Twitter. That person I admired? Kristin McFarland.

Fast forward seven years, and we are now both represented by the same agent. Her debut novel, a cozy mystery, came out yesterday. And it. was. a blast. It had so many threads and red herrings and plot twists, the Mines of Moria could have been listed as a co-author. Or, you know, the dwarves that dug them. Except that they’re dead. Spoiler alert.

The premise is one that doesn’t seem natural on the surface: a game shop owner (think D&D, not CoD) becomes a sleuth to find out who murdered one of her shop’s regulars. The suspects are manifold, the motives few. We have characters we love to love, characters we love to hate, and characters who should be rolled in honey and tied to a red-ant colony.

As I was reading this novel, I found myself in awe of how many plates Kristin had to keep spinning in order to pull off the (extremely satisfying) ending. My mental image of the author, deep in the drafting phase:

“But wait! There’s more!”

But, you know, with a calm glass of brandy in her hand instead of a cigarette.

I loved the interactions between the characters, both IRL and in-game. The people–even the ant-hill-bound ones–felt very natural. The town felt like a real place, with real jealousies and competitions.

And I would love an opportunity to just follow Alice around town for a day. I get the sense that she has a secret life that nobody knows about and I’m a nosy creature who must know.

To get to the point: whether cozy mysteries are your jam or, like me, you’re a total n00b to the genre, this book is a great–clever, unique, adorable–addition to the canon, and I heartily recommend it.

A pertinent meme.

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