Shady Hollow by Juneau Black

Juneau Black’s Shady Hollow is a cozy murder mystery with a twist: all the characters are animals.

First of all, thank you to Katy at Hodder & Stoughton for offering me a free review copy of Shady Hollow via NetGalley.

Shady Hollow is a cozy murder mystery with a fun twist — the whole village and cast are animals. The village of Shady Hollow is rocked by a murder, and reporter Vera Vixen is determined to find out the truth.

Shady Hollow is available in paperback, audiobook and eBook formats from Amazon, Waterstones, Hive, and all good bookstores.

Book review

Up in the far north, away from everything you know and dream about, lies a small village called Shady Hollow. There are many settlements in the woods, far from the cities and the bustling world. Shady Hollow is only one such community, where woodland creatures of all types and temperaments, from the tiny mouse to the mighty moose, live together in a successful and mostly peaceful society.

First of all, I loved the cover of this book, and I’m excited to see that the covers of the next two instalments, Cold Clay and Mirror Lake, line up with this one to create a cute scene from Shady Hollow.

I loved the small, local village feel to the book and the characters, who keep some of their animal traits and stereotypes. For example, Vera mentions Heidegger, an owl, to a rabbit who still shivers with fear involuntarily. Heidegger is still a “night owl” with great night vision and is considered very wise by the local community, well educated with a wealth of knowledge that Vera uses on a couple of occasions.

All of the characters are utterly charming and really won me over. They are all so unique. My favourite character was probably Lenore Lee, a raven who runs the local bookshop, Nevermore Books — which is cleverly designed so that Lenore can fly between the different floors. I loved her enthusiasm and research on famous detectives to help Vera solve the case!

This was such a delight to read, I loved it. The narrative voice is light and humorous with fun references throughout the book, such as references to Sherlock Holmes: “Reichenbach Falls = bad spot for getaway vacation.” As well as this, Shady Hollow is about 200 pages long so it’s a really short and fast read. It’s the perfect escapist read — I read this when I was ill with COVID and it brought a huge smile to my face while reading. It’s utterly charming.

The next books in the series will be out soon (Cold Clay on 5th March and Mirror Lake on 28th April), so you don’t have to wait long to find out what happens next!

Book synopsis

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.

Shady Hollow is available in paperback, audiobook and eBook formats from Amazon, Waterstones, Hive, and all good bookstores.