Gretchen Rue chats her low-stake cozy read, Something Wicked

Plus she recommends 7 books in time for Halloween.


Gretchen Rue has written many high stakes urban fantasy books but this time, she is switching things around to pen a low-stake cozy Halloween read. With the heroine that you will immediately want to befriend, and the perfect town setting, you would definitely want to curl up and read Something Wicked with a cup of hot chocolate. Read on for a guest post written by Gretchen Rue on Something Wicked.

There are few things in the world I enjoy more than magic. Little tastes of the supernatural mixed in with the every day is entirely my jam, whether that’s magic realism, or paranormal romance, or on a more mundane level enjoying the way light filters through clouds or how cool it is when a bird or animal stops mere inches away from you, there is magic both real and imagined all around us.

It was that concept, of the magical aspects of every day, that inspired me to write Something Wicked. I’ve been an author for well over a decade at this point, and I’ve written gritty urban fantasy with vampires and werewolves; contemporary romances with basic non-magical humans, and now with this book I wanted to try something different. The stakes are lower, the spice is admittedly almost non-existent (though I adore good flirty banter more than any steamy smooch, it makes me think of the romance classics of yore, like Katharine Hepburn trading barbs with Cary Grant in A Philadelphia Story), and it’s absolutely okay to linger on descriptions of food and tea for several pages.

For me, Something Wicked was a real change of pace from my older books, where my bounty-hunter heroine struggled with her humanity and was literally fighting to save the world. In my contemporary romances, it was all about the simmering tension and the love story was central. With this series I wanted to do something different, I wanted to craft a real mystery, like my whodunit idol Agatha Christie, but do it in a place where you wanted to live, with characters you wanted to be friends with. Crafting Raven Creek and the people in it, I really wanted to show my readers that anyone and everyone would be welcome in that town, so people could see themselves living there alongside these characters. I wanted to create stakes for my main character Phoebe, but make them real ones, like finding a place to belong after a divorce, and rediscovering who she was on her own. The relationship between her and Rich had to develop organically, and I think it makes the slow burn all that much sweeter knowing that they both want to play it cool, but keep gravitating back towards each other.

Plus I really wanted to write a book where my heroine could have a chubby orange cat sidekick and spend her days working in a bookstore. Let’s be honest, who among us doesn’t want to live that dream, even if no magic is involved? But there is magic in Phoebe’s life, and it’s very real, even though it’s also a metaphor for finding that spark after losing everything. The combination makes for a cozy, comforting fall read with magic, murder, and a spark of romance.

With that in mind, I wanted to also suggest a handful of other books ideal for curling up on the couch with this fall season, and what better theme than autumn and Halloween reads? So, here’s a mix of my favorite fall-vibes books, and a smattering of horror reads perfect to get that spooky season feeling.

Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt (horror): A ghostly witch is haunting a small town, but what keeps them living there may be much more sinister than anyone expected.

The Twisted Ones – T. Kingfisher (horror): A woman goes to clean out the hoarder house of a dead relative and finds herself unravelling a horrible mystery in old journals, while something creeps outside at night.

Clown in a Cornfield – Adam Cesare (horror): You want a book with the vibes of a high school slasher flick, then immediately get this one about a small-town teen party gone terribly wrong. Creepy clowns and a grim town secret included.

Legends & Lattes – Travis Baldree (cozy fantasy) – Low-stakes coffee house fantasy is a genuine delight to read and perfect for a rainy fall day where you just want to curl up with a hot drink and read something light.

The Tuesday Night Club – Agatha Christie (mystery) – The first appearance of Miss Marple is a delightful series of short stories that show the elderly sleuth make deductions based on her own life experiences living in a gossip-filled small town. No Halloween vibes per se, but definitely gives the feeling of a cool autumn evening.

Silver in the Wood – Emily Tesh (fairy tale) – A novella you can read in one sitting, this is lush with woodsy vibes and tells the story of a woodland guardian and the young man who slowly steals his attention. Beautifully written and heart wrenching.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good – Helene Tursten (mystery) – If you could imagine Agatha Christie writing an elderly serial killer, you would get Tursten’s Maud, who has no problem bumping off anyone who gets in her way. Unexpected and charming, it’s a perfect fall or Halloween read.

Hope you enjoy!

Something Wicked by Gretchen Rue, is published by Aria in paperback, Ebook on 14th September 2023.
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