“Shady Hollow” by Juneau Black

This was exactly the light, fun read I wanted when I got it. What drew me to it? I can’t remember. All I recall is a friend checking out the book on one of our book shopping trips and me thinking that I like the cover and would like to look at it too, lol.


Cozy Mystery


Shady Hollow, book 1



Goodreads summary

The first book in the Shady Hollow series, in which we are introduced to the village of Shady Hollow, a place where woodland creatures live together in harmony–until a curmudgeonly toad turns up dead and the local reporter has to solve the case.

Reporter Vera Vixen is a relative newcomer to Shady Hollow. The fox has a nose for news, so when she catches wind that the death might be a murder, she resolves to get to the bottom of the case, no matter where it leads. As she stirs up still waters, the fox exposes more than one mystery, and discovers that additional lives are in jeopardy.

Vera finds more to this town than she ever suspected. It seems someone in the Hollow will do anything to keep her from solving the murder, and soon it will take all of Vera’s cunning and quickness to crack the case. (Goodreads)

My thoughts

If you want a cozy mystery with animals as the main characters, then look no further. Shady Hollow is the one for you. Set in the fictional town of Shady Hollow that’s populated by woodland animals, the story focuses on a foxy reporter named Vera as she tries to uncover who killed the grouchy toad, Otto Sumpf. The story is sweet, entertaining, and quite fast-paced too, coming in at only 227 pages.

It took me a couple days to read it, only because I was reading other books at the time and had stuff to do, but I could see myself completing this in a day if I were to reread it. However, it did take a while for my interest in the story to pick up, but I blame that on myself because there was something about the tone and presentation that wasn’t what I was expecting. I can’t identify exactly what I thought was missing at the time, but now I think it just didn’t meet whatever expectation I had for it when I learned the story focuses on woodland animals.

By the end, I thought it was well done, but it wasn’t as memorable as I’d hoped. I thought the story would stick with me when done and I’d yearn to immediately dive into another Shady Hollow book to spend time in the town with the characters again, but that wasn’t the case. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t stick, and I didn’t miss it.

Despite that, I liked reading about the town while I was still progressing through the book, and some of the characters as well, like Lenore, a raven who has a wonderful bookshop in a repurposed grain silo. The middle of it is open with stairs circling up along the perimeter. Books line the walls, and each floor is dedicated to a different genre. I also liked the character and relationship development in Vera, the fox who’s a reporter, and Deputy Braun, a bear.

The mystery is what drives the plot and held my interest as I read. I was able to quickly guess who’s behind the murders, but I didn’t mind since I ended up second-guessing myself at one point. Plus, I was tickled by call outs to things of the real world, like:

 “He lived in an apartment about forty feet off the ground; ivory-tower jokes abounded whenever his name was mentioned.”

— Which was said of the owl, Ambrosius Heidegger, who’s a philosophy professor and a know-it-all. He represents “Ivy League” education in the book, hence the “ivory-tower jokes,” and:

“…the translation of the northern thriller The Squirrel Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”

“Lenore had to leave then, since a mouse had a question about Of Mice & Men. ‘Yes, of course. It’s in fantasy,’ Lenore said, flying over to assist.”

— Which both made me expel a little Ha!

So yeah, I had a wonderful time reading this one. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick around in my noggin after I was done, but the memories are good when I make myself remember what I read. Will I continue with the series? Maybe. I’m not gung-ho to do so, but if I’m bored one day and don’t know what to read but wouldn’t mind a mystery, then I might pick up the next book.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

I recommend it.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass


13 thoughts on ““Shady Hollow” by Juneau Black

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