Skip to product information
1 of 1

Emma L Adams

Murder Most Fowl: A Wildwood Witch Mystery Book 2 (Paperback)

Murder Most Fowl: A Wildwood Witch Mystery Book 2 (Paperback)

Regular price $9.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $9.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Book 2 of 7: A Wildwood Witch Mystery

Against everyone's expectations - including her own - Robin Wildwood has gained the coveted title of Head Witch. But not everyone is thrilled at that outcome…

With her squirrel familiar, Tansy, at her side, Robin determines to make the best of her unexpected position, but the Wildwood Coven isn't inclined to let the family's black sheep barge in and shake everything up. Even her grandmother's ghost and her cantankerous cat familiar have their own opinions on how things should be run, while her scheming aunt is less than thrilled at losing out to the family screw-up.

Helping to judge the local familiar contest ought to be a welcome relief, but when one of the contenders drops dead, Robin finds herself tasked with looking after a traumatised chicken familiar as well as preventing herself from becoming the killer's next target.

Can Robin solve the mystery before her new title ends up etched on her tombstone?

FAQ: How will my print book be delivered?

Print books are deliverered through a service called Book Vault and are shipped directly to you.

Print time is usually 72 working hours. After books are printed, they are shipped. Please check to make sure the address you provide is accurate and complete before you make your purchase.

Read a sample

My first day as Head Witch began with my new “co-worker” hacking up a hair ball on my desk.

“Thanks for that, Carmilla.” I shooed my late grandmother’s ancient cat off the desk before she made a mess of the considerable number of papers stacked on top of the wooden surface. I’d already had to move them away from my squirrel familiar, Tansy, as she ran up and down the room, inspecting the various shelves and cabinets.

“You’re welcome,” Carmilla said. “I thought I’d make you feel at home in your new office.”

At least she was acknowledging it was mine, which was an improvement, but I hadn’t quite dared to start rearranging the office to my liking. Mostly because the previous owner wasn’t quite gone yet. Grandma’s ghost hovered in the corner, casting a critical eye over the dusty cloak I’d had to dig out of the back of my wardrobe and the socks depicting cartoon squirrels I wore underneath.

I expected a lecture on inappropriate office attire, but instead, Grandma asked, “What have you done with that sceptre?”

“You said to keep it within reach.” I indicated the long polished instrument, which I’d rested against the back of the desk next to my knees. Part of my new job as Head Witch involved carrying the sceptre wherever I went, but it was difficult to fit a long pointed stick in my pocket or up my sleeve like my wand.

“The disrespect.” She huffed. “Have you even tried using it to cast a spell yet?”

“I haven’t had time.” I’d been given a grand total of one day to prepare for my new job, and I’d spent most of it tying up loose ends with my former employer. Telling the head of the magical courier company I worked for that I’d be taking a year-long hiatus because I’d unexpectedly been chosen as the regional Head Witch had gone over like a lead broomstick. I had an inkling there wouldn’t be a job for me to return to once my time as Head Witch came to an end, but that was assuming I survived the first day. Carmilla, for one, seemed convinced that I wouldn’t last a week.

“Well, make time,” said the ancient cat. “You can’t protect yourself from assassins if you don’t learn to use the sceptre.”

“What assassins?” My own Aunt Shannon had tried to claim the sceptre as her own, and in trying to keep her hands off it, I’d accidentally claimed it as my own in the process. Or rather, the other way around, since the sceptre chose its wielder using a kind of magic which was mystifying to everyone. Even my grandmother, who’d held the title for several decades until her untimely death a couple of weeks ago, hadn’t known that I’d be expected to step directly into her shoes without a clue as to why the sceptre had picked the family screwup as its wielder.

“Do you have any idea how many assassination attempts I fought off over the years?” Grandma’s ghost asked me. “Always be on your guard.”

“I would if I knew what I was supposed to be on my guard for. Except collapsing piles of paperwork maybe.”

Grandma hadn’t been exactly untidy, but her office contained far more cabinets full of papers than one would reasonably expect to fit into such a small space. I’d better hope I never needed to access anything from the very back of the room because I couldn’t even see the wall behind the mass of filing cabinets and bookshelves, including the large store of ingredients for spells and potions. Meanwhile, my desk had drawers hidden in every nook and cranny, for most of which I had no idea where to find the keys.

“Don’t be flippant,” Carmilla chastised me. “And do keep that familiar of yours under control.”

Tansy leapt down from the top of a cabinet in a rustle of papers, scampering over to the desk.

“I’m not being flippant. I’m being practical,” I said. “Doesn’t the sceptre automatically shoot bolts of purple light at people who threaten me? I think that’d be enough to deter most assassins.”

Otherwise, it was supposed to work the same as a regular wand, albeit a larger more unwieldy one. At least Grandma seemed to have finally given up on trying to reclaim it for her own, as ghosts found it hard to make contact with any solid objects, and her attempts to pick up the sceptre had ended in failure.

“Not all of them,” said Grandma. “They’re sneaky. You need to take precautions to check your food for poison or stop eating out altogether.”

“Oh, come on.” While Mum did employ a cook at home—a necessity, given that none of my family members had any culinary skills to speak of—my occasional evening meals at the Fox’s Den with my best friend, Piper, were one of the only “normal” things I might be able to keep in my life. Also, I’d draw the line at giving up my lattes from Were’s My Coffee?, the shifter-run café above which my cousin Rowan was now living.

Admittedly, Grandma had been poisoned by her own assistant—by accident—and she had good reason to be paranoid that someone would try to take me out of the picture before my term as Head Witch officially began. Still, hiding away wasn’t my style.

“Also, you need to keep an eye on that sceptre at all times,” added Carmilla.

“If I have to carry it everywhere, it’s not like it’ll leave my sight.” Since everyone knew my family, I’d never exactly been anonymous, but I didn’t look forward to the extra attention I’d draw while walking around town carrying a giant pointed instrument with a glowing purple gem on its end. While stealing the Head Witch’s sceptre was a foolish idea at best, it wasn’t unheard of, and certain members of my family had been willing to try anything to win it over. Though I’d definitively beaten them, I doubted they’d entirely given up on their goals yet. For that reason, I’d put up with the stares I’d attract by wielding the sceptre in public.

“Do you know what happened to my predecessor?” Grandma asked.

“No.” Even Mum hadn’t been born yet when Grandma had first taken the title of Head Witch. “Was she assassinated?”

She drifted alongside the desk. “We think so.”

“That’s not very specific,” I said. “How’d she die?”

“She choked on a sunflower seed.”

“That doesn’t sound like an assassination to me, Grandma.”

“Your risk to take.” 

Carmilla hopped over to the other side of the desk, knocking a container of pens over in the process.

Honestly. Between her and Grandma, I’d be lucky to get any actual work done before anyone had the chance to threaten my life. Figuring I might as well seize the chance to test the sceptre, I lifted it into the air and cast a levitation charm to move the fallen pens back into the container.

The pens shot straight up into the air and so did several stacks of papers on the desk. Not to mention Carmilla, who gave an outraged yowl, her paws flailing in midair. “Put me down!”

“Sorry!” I hastened to undo the spell, causing everything to come crashing back to earth. Carmilla landed in a pile of papers, puncturing them with her claws, and then sprinted over to hide behind Grandma’s ghost.

“You,” said Grandma, “are a menace.”

I gave the sceptre a sheepish look. “I didn’t know it’d be that strong.”

“It’s a sceptre, not a party trick.”

“You told me it was the same as a wand.” I climbed out of my chair to collect the fallen papers, most of which were written in Grandma’s scrawling, semi-legible handwriting.

“I’ve changed my mind,” said Grandma. “You’re welcome to treat it like an ornamental stick if it keeps you out of trouble.”

I opted not to dignify that with a response, instead getting down on hands and knees to retrieve all the pens and papers which had fallen onto the floor. Didn’t she have digital copies of anything? Given my family’s proclivity for living in the past, I guessed not. Not all covens had upgraded to the modern age, and I didn’t even see a computer anywhere amid the stacked cabinets.

This is going to be trickier than I thought.

I hadn’t exactly come into the position of Head Witch expecting an easy ride. I’d already been braced for the naysayers who believed the nonsense that the Blue Moon tabloid printed about my family on a daily basis. I made a point of ignoring the headlines, but that didn’t stop the weight of my family’s expectations from resting heavily on my shoulders—both the living family members and the dead ones.

I laid the last paper on top of the heap on the desk. “What’s on the agenda for today? I’m meeting with the council representatives of the Wildwood Coven, aren’t I?”

“In an hour,” said Grandma. “Also, you are a council representative, technically speaking.”

“More of a ceremonial one.”

As the new leader of the Wildwood Coven, my mother was the driving force behind the witches who ran the town of Wildwood Heath. The role of Head Witch was mostly to act as a judge on matters affecting all the local covens, not just the Wildwood witches, but Grandma had held both titles, and Mum had expected to follow in her footsteps.

Instead, the sceptre had chosen me, with the result that I’d have to spend the next year travelling to meetings with both the local covens and the regional ones and settling various disputes. That would have been tricky enough to handle if I’d stayed local, but in the last few years, I’d spent more time away from Wildwood Heath than not, and I hadn’t exactly stayed up to date on the goings-on in the covens in the interim.

Someone rapped on the office door, interrupting my thoughts.

“There she is,” said Grandma.

“There who is?” I rose to my feet and called out, “Come in!”

A young witch ambled into the room, dressed in the customary long black coat of a council member and with her long curly dark hair tied in a ponytail. To my utter bafflement, she dropped into a curtsy, deep enough that her glasses almost fell off the end of her nose. “Head Witch. It’s an honour to meet you.”

“Er… you can just call me Robin,” I said. “Also, there’s no need for… that.” I gestured at her hunched position, and she straightened upright at once. “Can I help you?”

“I…” She glanced over her shoulder. “I’m Chloe Watts, your new assistant. I thought you knew.”

“Who…?” Mum. It was just like her to hire me an assistant without asking my permission first.

“Good, you’re here,” said Grandma. “Chloe, bring Robin her correspondence.”

“My what?” I said blankly.

Chloe raised her wand and gave it a wave. The papers on the desk shifted to make room for another heap of what appeared to be letters.

“What are these?” I peered at the spiky handwriting on the topmost piece of paper. Dear Head Witch, it began.

“Letters from the other Head Witches congratulating you on your position,” said Grandma. “It’s courteous to write back, thanking all of them.”

“Write back.” My gaze skimmed across the letters, of which there were at least two dozen. “You mean now?”

“Yes,” said Carmilla with a barely concealed laugh. “You don’t want to give a bad impression to your fellow Head Witches, do you?”

“Not at all.” I turned to Grandma’s ghost. “Do you happen to have a computer somewhere in here?”

Tansy popped up. “In the desk. Bottom drawer on the right. I checked.”

“Don’t touch that,” Grandma reprimanded when I opened the drawer to reveal a rather dusty laptop.

Carmilla sauntered over and flicked the drawer shut with her tail. “Write back by hand.”

“You’ve got to be joking.” It’d take all morning to reply to all of them, and my handwriting was more or less illegible even if you didn’t take my difficulties with spelling into account. The nonmagical type of spelling, that is. In the normal world, they called it dyslexia or something similar. While I did know a handy spellchecker charm, writing fifty letters by hand did not strike me as a productive use of my time.

“Sorry,” Chloe said. “It’s customary. Right, Head Witch—ah, I mean… Mrs Wildwood?”

I looked at her in bafflement for a moment until I realised she was addressing Grandma’s ghost. She’d gone by Head Witch for so long that I sometimes forgot her actual name.

“Precisely,” said Grandma.

“Maybe it was the custom when you became Head Witch, but computers didn’t exist then,” I pointed out, picking up one of the letters. “Look, some of these are typed, not handwritten.”

Grandma drifted behind me, stirring up a breeze that caused the letter to fly out of my hand and land back on top of the pile. “It doesn’t interest me what the other Head Witches do. We have our traditions.”

“Including giving ourselves hand cramps and living in a forest of paperwork?” I could see how she’d amassed so many cabinets of files over the years. “Chloe, do all the Head Witches write personalised responses to every letter?”

She shifted from one foot to another. “I don’t think so, but I’m not privy to how the other Head Witches run things.”

“Don’t you start pressuring her,” Carmilla reprimanded me. “Having an assistant isn’t an excuse not to do anything yourself.”

“That isn’t the plan.” I felt sorry for Chloe, since I doubted that she’d known what she was getting into when she’d applied for the job, but I was pretty sure this was exactly the kind of task I was supposed to give to my assistant. There must be a magical shortcut to writing fifty-odd letters.

I drew in a breath and faced Grandma. “Would it be acceptable if I wrote a standard letter and then used a copying charm to make fifty duplicates before adding in the right names and titles afterwards?”

“If you can use a copying charm correctly, then of course,” said Grandma. “I seem to remember that wasn’t one of your strong points.”

You didn’t have to remind me. Unfortunately, the last time I’d tried that charm, I’d accidentally created a reflection of the text which nobody could read without holding it up to a mirror. Then again, I wasn’t the only person here capable of using magic. “Chloe, can you cast an adequate copying spell?”

“Of course,” Chloe said. “I’ll gladly help you.”

Maybe there was something to having an assistant after all, though I had the suspicion I wouldn’t be able to send her to attend tedious three-hour meetings in my place. Ah well. “Thanks. Where’s the blank paper?”

“In there.” She waved her wand, and a cabinet door swung open behind me. “Is there anything else you need me to do?”

“Can you check if there’s anything else urgent on the agenda for the day? I have to head to a meeting in less than an hour.”

“I can give you a list,” said Grandma.

“You didn’t tell me that.” I did my best to swallow down my annoyance, but Grandma probably knew Chloe much better than I did. “Can the two of you talk between yourselves while I write the letter, please?”

“Only because you asked so nicely.” Grandma drifted over to Chloe, who looked surprisingly unbothered at the notion of dealing with the ghost of my predecessor. Grandma’s own assistant had landed in jail for murder, so hiring a replacement hadn’t exactly been at the top of my never-ending to-do list.

“If you don’t finish before the council meeting, you can take the letters home and finish them this evening,” added Carmilla. “They need to be mailed out before tomorrow.”

“Noted.” I selected a piece of parchment, trying to ignore Carmilla’s expectant stare. I’d come in here determined to do a good job despite not being prepared for the position, but my family and I tended not to align with the same views on… well, anything.

I wrote my response slowly and carefully, copying the formal tone of the congratulatory letters and doing my best to avoid using any words I wasn’t sure how to spell. My wrist had cramped by the time I’d finished, but I didn’t think I’d made any heinous mistakes.

“You missed out an ‘i,’” said Grandma.

“Thanks.” I gingerly corrected the word, holding my hand as steady as possible to avoid having to rewrite the whole thing again. Then I pulled out my wand to cast a spellchecker charm, not quite trusting the sceptre after the mishap with the levitation spell earlier. Nothing lit up in red, so I didn’t have any more errors to fix. Good.

Chloe sprang over to the desk. “Need me to cast the spell?”

“Yes, please.” I handed her the piece of paper. “Make a couple of spares just in case I need to send out some more later on.”

“Good idea.”

While she waved her wand over the paper, I signed each duplicate as she handed them to me and then sorted them into piles according to the region or town that I needed to send them to.

“You have five minutes until your meeting with the council,” Carmilla said from over my shoulder.

“Noted.” So much for getting to take a nap beforehand. I’d barely slept the night before, both from nerves and from the fact that Carmilla had decided to sleep in my room to “guard” the sceptre and kept meowing in her sleep.

Tansy scampered across my shoulders and wrapped her fluffy tail around the back of my neck. “It’ll get easier. I doubt they’ll have you writing letters every day.”

“Don’t give them ideas,” I murmured. “I think I’d rather have another magical duel with Aunt Shannon.”

She hadn’t offered her congratulations to me, but I preferred to put off the moment when I inevitably had to speak to her for the first time since her failed attempt to snag the Head Witch title.

“That’s because you’re better at practical magic than paperwork,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“It’s not exactly a huge part of being Head Witch.” While the person chosen was generally a strong witch, that didn’t mean they often got to use the sceptre’s magic—another reason Grandma’s warnings about assassins made me sceptical.

Besides, powerful magic did not equal expertise. I might have inherited my family’s unique talent for speaking to and understanding any animal, but when I lost my temper, I had a tendency to lose my grip on controlling my magic altogether. Granted, it had come in handy when I’d had to chase off reporters and stop Grandma’s killer from getting away, but not so much when it came to sitting in meetings.

Outside, a clicking noise from the office door next to mine indicated that Mum had left for the meeting. As the new leader of the Wildwood Coven, it was technically her first day on the job, too, though I doubted she felt as unprepared as I did. Before I could join her, she pushed open my office door without knocking, appearing in the entryway with her ginger-and-white cat familiar, Horace.

“Are you ready for the meeting?” Mum asked. “You’ll have to leave your familiar behind. Chloe can keep an eye on her, or you can send her outside instead.”

Tansy scampered onto my desk. “I don’t mind staying in here.”

“We might be a while.” I turned to Mum. “What is the meeting about, exactly?”

“You’ll be introducing yourself to the rest of the council, primarily,” she said. “It’s—ah, not typical for us to have a Head Witch who isn’t up to date on current events, so we’ll give you a rundown of the main ones.”

“Thanks.” I think. I hadn’t exactly come to my childhood home expecting to end up tied to my old coven, much less to be put in charge of important decisions. Since the entirety of the past week had been dominated by arrangements for Grandma’s funeral and the votes for the new coven leader and Head Witch, nobody had even begun to talk about the aftermath until now. Nobody had left me a list of instructions either, though if they had, I wouldn’t have been able to find it amid all the paperwork in Grandma’s office.

As I followed Mum and Horace out the door, Chloe cleared her throat behind me. “Ah, Head Witch? Is there anything you want me to do during the meeting?”

“Yes.” I turned back to the office. “Chloe, can you arrange those papers from my desk in order of importance and pick out anything that needs to be urgently attended to when I get back?”

“No,” Grandma interjected. “I don’t want anything moved.”

“This isn’t your office anymore, remember?” Closing the door on her, I found Mum giving me a look I couldn’t decipher. “I can’t have her under my feet all the time. Besides, it doesn’t give much of a good impression if everyone knows what’s going on except for me.”

“I hired Chloe myself,” said Mum. “I’m glad to see you’re making use of her.”

Reading between the lines, she’d probably arranged for Chloe to work as her assistant when she’d assumed she’d be taking the title of Head Witch as well as coven leader. We both had a lot of adjusting to do, that was for sure.

“I hope Grandma lets her do her job, then.” I hadn’t a hope of sorting through all that paperwork myself. There was a good reason I’d opted out of working for the coven as soon as I’d been old enough to find an alternative, aside from the fact that I’d struggled to maintain a passing grade in most of my classes at the academy. Too bad the sceptre had seen to it that I didn’t have a choice after all.

I followed Mum across the lobby to the meeting room, worry fluttering inside my chest. Aunt Shannon would be present at the meeting as a fellow council member, and I hadn’t spoken to her since she’d been hauled out of my office after trying to steal the sceptre for herself. I wouldn’t forgive or forget what she’d done anytime soon, including bullying my cousin Rowan so badly that she’d seen betraying the coven as her only way out.

I hoped Rowan was having a better day than I was. She’d moved out of my aunt’s house yesterday at the price of giving up her membership in the Wildwood Coven altogether, and while Aunt Shannon had doubtlessly been furious, she hadn’t been able to stop her.

Mum opened the door to a room containing a long table set with chairs. Everyone inside the room rose to their feet, which made me squirm with discomfort, but two members were notably absent at the moment, namely Aunt Shannon and my cousin Vanessa.

When Mum and I reached the table, she edged me towards the seat at the head and whispered, “You have to start the meeting.”

I did? Nerves swarmed me as I looked at the faces watching me around the table. “We’ll start by introducing ourselves. I am Robin Wildwood, Head Witch.”

The title still didn’t feel like it applied to me, but saying it aloud broke the tension among the others. 

Mum spoke next. “I am Lady Wildwood.”

I’d forgotten she’d be going by a new title now. This would take some getting used to. The others I mostly knew, though the council members from the Wildwood Coven weren’t the only ones I’d need to get to know, since the town’s other smaller covens had their own representatives and so did the ones in the neighbouring magical communities.

When the introductions were over, Mum said, “The Head Witch usually begins by explaining her actions, decisions, and achievements since the last meeting. Or since this morning, in your case.”

What did they expect me to have achieved in an hour, really? Everyone looked at me expectantly, so I said, “I sent out responses to the congratulatory letters from the other Head Witches.”

“And?” Mum pressed.

I fidgeted in my seat. “Each letter required a handwritten personalised response, so I haven’t had time to get anything else done.”

Mum’s brows shot up. “That’s not customary. A printed one would be fine.”

“It was Grandma’s idea.” I should have known not everyone would have agreed with her, even her daughter.

One of the other council members raised her brows. “Is the former Head Witch offering you her counsel, then?”

More like nagging me from beyond the grave. “Yes, she is, as well as my new assistant.”

“Good,” said Mum. “You’ve entered the position at a busy time, so I thought it wise for you to have Chloe around to help you.”

“I thought we were still in the mourning period,” I said. “For Grandma, I mean.”

“You’ll work it out between yourselves, I’m sure,” said Mum. “The funeral delayed some other events, so the familiar contest was moved to this week. The contenders will start arriving this afternoon.”

A heartbeat passed before her words sank in. “The what will start arriving?”

View full details