Monday, April 16, 2012

The Book Tour Stops Here: The Thirteen By Susie Moloney with Creamy Mushroom (Not the Magic Kind) Pasta

"Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It’s close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing, and the crime rate is practically nonexistent.

Paula Wittmore hasn’t been back to Haven Woods since she left as a disgraced teenager. Now she’s returning to care for her suddenly ailing mother, and she’s bringing her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She’s also bringing, unknowingly, the last chance for her mother’s closest frenemies . . . twelve women bound together by a powerful secret that requires the sacrifice of a thirteenth.

The Thirteen by Susie Moloney is a campy. creepy contemporary horror novel. (Paperback: 336 pages Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks March, 2012) Young single mother Paula and her twelve-year-old daughter Rowan are barely scraping by in the city when she is fired at her strip club waitress job and Rowan is suspended from school. After learning that her mother Audra has taken suddenly and mysteriously ill, Paula brings Rowan back with her to her hometown of Haven Woods. To oblivious Paula, Haven Woods seems like childhood and home, to Rowan it seems pretty creepy--almost too perfect--and what's with all the cats lurking about? There are plenty of secrets beneath the quiet surface of the town, and a group of women who will do whatever it takes to keep those secrets hidden and keep their lives on their prosperous, perfect paths by keeping their coven number at thirteen.

I like horror and paranormal reads and I love books about witches and covens and the black arts. The Thirteen drops all of it into modern-day suburbia. Looking at the pretty soccer mom with the successful husband and beautiful kids who would suspect how she got her perfect life? It makes for good fun. The Thirteen is dark and sometimes graphic--plenty of evil acts, spells, human and animal sacrifices, terrible "accidents" etc., but has its darkly humorous moments too. With a coven of thirteen, plus Paula, Rowan and some side characters, there were times when it was a bit tough to keep track of everyone and I found my attention lagging about halfway through the book. The action did pick up though and at that point the story became hard to put down until the very end. The characters are interesting--the lines of evil are often blurry and I found myself sympathetic in varying degrees to even the darkest characters based on their circumstances and motivations. I found Paula to be annoying at times and wanted to smack her to wake her up to what was happening around her--or at least to actively question some of the oddities that occurred. In contrast, Rowan is precocious and quickly gets the message that something is wrong in this suburban paradise, but she isn't sure what it is and how to communicate it to her mom. Overall, this book is an entertaining diversion--a great beach book or vacation read for those who like suspense, horror, witchcraft and the paranormal.

Author Notes: Susie Moloney is the bestselling author of four books and has published in numerous countries and assorted languages. She divides her time between the wilds of Canada and the wild world of New York City.

And now for a dish inspired by the book. Food doesn't play a huge role in the story. There are a few dinners--steak, pizzas, burgers, etc., but nothing that was particularly culinarily inspiring. Since I was craving mushrooms and they were often associated with witches and the devil in the Middle Ages, a mushroom dish seemed appropriate to represent the book. (See how well I can make anything relate!) ;-) I threw together a thick and creamy vegan mushroom sauce using nutritional yeast for flavor and "cheesiness" and almond milk thickened with corn starch for the velvety texture. It was excellent over a baked potato, and even better mixed into some pasta. A little mushroom magic--the good-for-you-kind of course. ;-)

"Magic" Creamy Mushroom Pasta
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4)

8 oz dried pasta (I used Ancient Harvest Quinoa Rotelle Pasta), cooked according to the instructions on the package.

1 Tbsp vegan butter spread
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups low sodium veggie stock
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp granulated onion powder
2 cups nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
3 Tbsp cornstarch
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt vegan butter spread in a large pan over medium and add minced garlic. Saute for a few minutes until it begins to change color. Add mushrooms and thyme to pan, and stir to coat with butter spread. Stir together veggie broth, soy sauce, nutritional yeast and onion powder and pour the mixture over mushrooms, sautéing the mixture over medium heat until mushrooms begin to darken and soften.

Thoroughly mix the cornstarch into the non-dairy milk and add to the pan, stirring to combine. Bring liquid to a just at a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until sauce thickens, stirring frequently, about 5-6 minutes.

Add salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir and let flavors meld together. Toss with cooked pasta and serve.

Notes/Results: Just what I wanted--creamy, savory, mushroomy pasta goodness. The magic comes from being able to enjoy a creamy dish without all the dairy, cholesterol and saturated fat of a normal cream sauce. I topped the pasta with fresh lemon thyme and leftover topping from last week's zucchini noodles and sauce for a little Parmesan-like texture. The quinoa pasta makes it gluten-free and has a similar texture to white pasta but with 4 grams of fiber instead of 2 grams. Good comfort food, I will make this again.

Note: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher through TLC Book Tours but I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. Mushrooms were associated with witches? Maybe that's why I"m not 100% sold on them....

    Well, sounds like a good read and a delicious pasta dish either way! maybe I'll come around to mushrooms just yet.

  2. Oooh! I think that is a book I could get into! And I could definitely use a bowl of the mac. The perfect comfort food!

  3. I love mushrooms, too, and anything combined with pasta can only be improved. 

  4. I love the Magic Mushrooms. :) This is a recipe I'll definitely be trying for myself!

    Thanks for being on the tour - I'm glad you found this to be a fun read.

  5.  Thanks Heather! It was fun--a great way to escape. ;-)

  6.  Yep, I am making more mushroom pasta this week. It's my favorite.

  7.  It's a fun book for sure. The pasta is very hearty and comforting.

  8.  What?!? Did I know this about you?! Mushrooms are my favorite. They had a bad wrap in the Middle Ages. ;-)


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)