Hazel Wetherby and the Elixir of Love is a YA novel that was pitched to me as 'Nancy Drew meets Men in Black.' It sounded adorable. Hazel seemed like a spunky heroine, and the fairly straightforward mystery (parents go missing, bad guys are involved) seemed like we'd get a simple narrative with some good character moments.
The book was highly reviewed on both Amazon and Smashwords. All of those reviews said that it was a great story for kids. I have to agree with that assessment---it would be good for kids. For this adult reader, it missed the mark a little, I'm afraid.
Defelis writes well and the story seems polished and well-edited. But he jumps around a lot between several groups of characters, and I found that a little distracting at first. And my suspension of disbelief meter was working overtime here. Hazel manages to do such things as rent an office building and hire a housekeeper on her own, for instance. And she decides to be a detective to find her parents, then basically sits around waiting for a 'client' rather than going out and actually detecting. When she does get clues about her parents, they pretty much fall into her lap by dumb luck.
A younger reader might be less bothered by such details. As for myself, I probably could have finished this book and mildly enjoyed it. But I just have so much else on my to-read list right now. If a book is only okay, I just don't have the time.
Verdict: did the sample make me want to read more?
No, but it was a close one. If I didn't have so much else to read, I might have finished. This would be a better book for the younger reader for whom it is intended.
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