Reading level: Adult
E-book: 236 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Carina Press
Release date: March 25, 2013
Series: Monster Haven #2
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Jenn
A Monster Haven Story, book two
Zoey Donovan--empath, wedding planner, go-to girl for monsters with personal problems--has been marked twice for pickup by Death. On both occasions, Riley the smoking-hot reaper has refused to follow through. For his breach of protocol, Riley is now on probation. For her refusal to die on schedule, Zoey's right to live is challenged. She will have to undergo a life-or-death trial, but she won't know when or where it will happen...
Staying alive might not be so difficult if the Leprechaun Mafia hadn't strolled into town. Now every business owner with the slightest connection to the supernatural community is being threatened with the most appalling bad luck if they don't pay up. Mirrors are smashed, bodies are dropping, and Zoey's still got clients waiting for fabric samples.
With a little luck, she might be able to save everyone and still have time for a second attempt at a decent first date with her favorite reaper.
Find out how it began in Monster in My Closet, available now!
As the cover copy says, POOKA IN MY PANTRY is the second book in R. L. Naquin's Monster Haven series. Last time around, Zoey took on a single opponent but now she finds herself deluged with problems. First, there's the fact that she should have died a couple times but her love interest, Riley the reaper, didn't follow through. As a result, she has a limited amount of time to either die or become an Aegis, a human with special gifts that helps the Hidden (the supernatural population that hides from most humans). She's basically cursed with terrible luck, leading to embarrassing stains, lots of accidents, and generally misfortune. Zoey also has to combat the Leprechaun Mafia, which was one of the funniest things I've heard in a long time. They're not all tiny gingers and I quite enjoyed the surprising amount of menace and damage they brought to POOKA IN MY PANTRY. And then there's the titular pooka, whose name is Silas and who is basically travelling bad luck. Basically, Zoey is not having a good couple of weeks. These three different problems eventually all converge because what kind of story would it be if they didn't? It makes POOKA IN MY PANTRY more action-packed than its predecessor and I quite enjoyed all of the excitement.
There's also a whole lot of worldbuilding in POOKA IN MY PANTRY because we get to see so much more of this Hidden world. It turns out there's a Board of Hidden Affairs, an organization that takes care of the Hidden. It's basically a Hidden government, with different departments like the Human/Hidden Relations Division, a Social Assistance department, and more. Every single Hidden is under their purview, and they're trying to figure out if that includes Zoey or not. If she is an Aegis, she's their responsibility, whether she wants to be or not. (Hint: she doesn't want.) It's really neat to see the mythology of the series expand so much, especially since it gives us some insight into why Zoey's mother isn't around and why no one can really remember her leaving. I thought that R. L. Naquin would draw out the mystery surrounding Zoey's mom for a bit longer so it was exceptionally gratifying to learn a bit earlier than expected.
On a personal level, Zoey makes a lot of progress. She explores her sort-of relationship with Riley, even amidst all of the chaos, and she reveals more about her new life to those around her. It's nice to see her taking chances on people, despite everything that's going on around her. Naquin gives Zoey opportunities to grow as a person and to learn what she's capable of. She "levels up" on several fronts and it's cool to see.
I hope I've shown you just why I liked POOKA IN MY PANTRY so much. It's a great book and a strong sequel to MONSTER IN MY CLOSET. Zoey's not your traditional urban fantasy heroine (as I mentioned in my post on MONSTER IN MY CLOSET but she's a great main character all the same. If you're looking for a series that's a bit different from the standard genre fare, look no further than R. L. Naquin's Monster Haven stories. Zoey's a refreshing voice in the urban fantasy sea and I look forward to spending more time with her.