Jul 1, 2008

Book Review: Garden Spells

Sisters Claire and Sydney Waverley live in Bascom, North Carolina and they’ve always known their family was considered a little strange by the townsfolk. For one thing, they have a magic apple tree in their garden that produces very special apples. And that tree is desperate to be considered a part of the family.

Claire is the older of the two sisters and she embraces the Waverley traditions while Sydney has tried to run away from them. After all, their mother hated their home town and ran away from it not once, but twice leaving two small children behind the second time. The two girls deal with their mother’s choice to leave them in very different ways. Claire stays in Bascom and learns the treasured family recipes from their grandmother. She uses the flowers from their special garden in her recipes she makes for her catering business, which is very popular in the community even though some prefer to be secretive about it. Sydney, on the other hand, had little interest in the strange practices and felt she didn’t belong, even though she was born in Bascom and Claire wasn’t. So Sydney leaves town and lives very similarly to how she imagined her mother must’ve lived. Wild and crazy with adventure. And ultimately fear. And it’s that fear that sends her and her daughter home to Bascom.

Garden Spells is the most refreshing, entertaining book I’ve read in some time. I breezed right through it and felt the Waverley magic on every page. I also enjoyed all of the interesting and quirky supporting characters. It not only centers on the two sisters, but a whole cast of characters that easily fit with one another. The story itself was fresh and different. It’s about family, friendship and loyalty. I didn’t know what to expect as I’m not a fan of the fantasy genre, so I didn’t know how I’d feel about this magical realism. But I found it was something I really enjoyed. It was not over the top and it was well incorporated into the story. I can say now I am a fan of this type of writing.

This debut achievement of Ms. Sarah Addison Allen is quite captivating and I look forward to reading more books from her. In fact, her new book The Sugar Queen was just released last month and I’ve heard from early reviewers that it’s equally as entertaining and enjoyable.

Click here to visit Sarah Addison Allen’s website to find out more on Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen and other author news.

Garden Spells
Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Bantam, August 2007
304 Pages
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!

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