Review: Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen

Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Title: Garden Spells
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 304
Original Release: August 28, 2007
ISBN# 978-0553805482

Delightful.  Magical.  Fantastical.  Bewitching.  Heartwarming.  Charming.

To be a Waverley in Bascom, NC is a special thing. Some would call that special thing strange, some would call  it natural. Some would embrace it and some would run as far and and as fast as they could from it. Accept it or not, appreciate it or not, the Waverleys are special.

Claire and Sydney Waverley are sisters who had dramatically different childhoods. One seemed to inherit the talent to use the edible flowers in their family garden to create enchanted dishes. Apples from their moody apple tree are said to show the greatest event in your life. Ladies served biscuits with lilac jelly & lavendar tea cookies to encourage their guests to keep their secrets. Parents gave their children angelica candy and cupcakes with crystalized pansy leaves to make their children more thoughtful. The whole town took sips of honeysuckle wine on the 4th of July so they could see in the dark.  All secrets that were passed down from Grandma Waverley to an eager Claire.

Sydney, however, took after their mother. She distanced herself from the label of the Waverley name and escaped from Bascom as soon as she graduated high school. Now, years later, Sydney is trying to escape from something else. She comes home with her daughter, into Claire’s very isolated world. Both sisters struggle to overcome misunderstandings from their childhood, and choices they’ve made as adults. They learn to trust each other, and eventually themselves. Once their carefully constructed walls of doubt start to crumble, they discover the true magic of old family ties and new love.

I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. I’ve been reading so many urban fantasies and darker paranormal romances lately that I just really wanted something light and fun. The story is told in such a magical, almost sing-song kind of way. I love that it’s not told by just one character, as well. We get to go inside the head of the storyteller for each of the different aspects of the tale. So many things going on, but all blending and weaving together. It’s comforting, and despite the very obvious supernatural aspects of the story, completely makes you believe.  This book is full of funny, quirky side characters that just move into your heart and stay there. Evenelle, who will show up at any time of the day or night to give you something that she just KNOWS you’re going to need (and you do, always, end up needing it), is one of my favorites. Not everyone has a happy tale to share, but the friendships that get them through are just inspiring.

I’m starting Sarah’s second book later tonight (The Sugar Queen), and her third book (The Girl Who Chased The Moon) will be out the end of this month. I hope you all take some time to wrap yourself up in the charm that is Garden Spells. I promise you won’t need any rose geranium wine to remember how good it was!

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