Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

 Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is an enchanting little book.  It is the story of two sisters, Claire and Sydney Waverly, who have been estranged for many years.  Claire is living in the family home in Bascom, North Carolina, when Sydney arrives with her daughter Bay in tow.  Sydney is running from Bay’s abusive father and has nowhere else to go.  Claire, a caterer, has trouble getting close to people for fear they will leave.

The Waverly’s have a reputation around town for being different.  They possess special gifts.  Bay has an uncanny ability to know where things belong, from forks to people.  Evanelle, an elderly cousin, is compelled to give people things that they will need in the future; things that will alter the course of their lives (although she never knows how they will be used when she gives them).  Claire’s gift is her very special culinary skills.  She uses edible flowers and herbs from her garden in her cooking, which can make people remember or forget,  fall in or out of love, and any number of other mystical things as she sees fit.  Sydney is determined NOT to be special as only a Waverly can be, but soon it’s clear that she is gifted as well.  And then there’s the Waverly apple tree, which has it’s own brand of magic.

I was captivated by Garden Spells.  It is romantic and sweet and the story flows nicely.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy or magical fiction.  Is magical fiction an actual genre?  If not, it should be.

Garden Spells comes out in paperback in April.  Sarah Addison Allen’s new book, The Sugar Queen, comes out in May.

A big THANK YOU to Softdrink for sending me this little gem.  I’ll be sending it off to another favorite bloggy friend of mine to keep the magic moving around.  I wouldn’t want to be the one to break the spell.  

10 Responses

  1. I loved this book too! I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of “magical fiction” type books (except Harry Potter), but I did enjoy this. Maybe I’ll have to rethink my reading preferences. I can’t wait to read her next one!

  2. That book sounds interesting! I live in NC, so it’s fun to find books set here. Thanks for posting in my blog yesterday. I need to check out your Eat, Pray, Love comments🙂

  3. Whew, I’m glad you liked it. There’s always that niggling little fear that people will wonder what you saw in a book. Although, I feel pretty safe in saying this book will never spark the amount of debate that a certain other book has!
    I didn’t know she had a new one coming out. Hurray!

  4. Hi guys, thanks for the comments.

    Julie, I’m right with you on that. I really never read fantasy or magical fiction (I haven’t even read any HP) so I guess it’s surprising that I liked this. She just has a really pleasant style, don’t ya think?

    Bibliophylia, I love reading books that are set in a location that’s familiar to me. Totally fun.

    Softdrink, I know what you mean. I used to give books as gifts all the time, but I’ve kind of slowed down on that because everyone has such different taste in books. I am going to pass this one on though. Thanks again for sending it to me. I could never have imagined the intense response to my last post on E,P, L. I’m getting kinda worried about that book club meeting. I’m leading the discussion for that meeting, and if this random sampling on my blog is any indication, it could get a bit heated!

  5. I just finished this last night and I like that she never used the word witch. They had special gifts or talents, but she never said it was witchy. Oh, and I would give anything to have an apple tree which threw apples. We have a little problem with kids throwing rocks at my fenced in dogs!

  6. Ohhhhhhh, I love books with people with magical powers. Maybe that’s why I love fantasy so much. This looks awesome.

  7. […] book, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.  I loved her earlier novel Garden Spells, reviewed HERE, so I can’t wait to read this one to see how it […]

  8. […] Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is the magical follow up to 2007’s Garden Spells (reviewed HERE).  It’s sweet but not sappy, nutty but not ‘chock full of nuts’.  It’s like the perfect […]

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