Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

ISBN: 978-0553590326
Publisher: Bantam Discovery
Paperback: 320 Pages
First Line: Every smiley moon, without fail, Claire dreamed of her childhood.
One Word Review: Bewitching

Publisher's Description:

The Waverlys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation. For the Waverly history is in the soil. And so are their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverly prepares dishes made with her mystical plants - from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbour. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, distributes unexpected presents whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverlys - except for Claire's rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire's quiet life is turned upside down. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy - if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom...or with each other.

I have found a new favorite author, and her name is Sarah Addison Allen. Garden Spells is her debut novel, and it is simply wonderful. First of all, the cover is stunning. I would like to say I don't judge a book by it's cover, but it's just not true. It's gorgeous. I'd probably have bought the book even if I wasn't all that intrigued by the description. In fact, I'm not even sure I read the description.

But, I'm getting of track. Back to the book and its content. I wouldn't call it highly original. It had a very Practical Magic feel (a movie I didn't actually care for, to be honest). But what the plot may have lacked in originality, Ms. Allen more than makes up for in the way she tells her story. The characters are the best part - my favorite being Evanelle. I wanted to bring that sweet old woman home with me. Everything about the story is a bit fantastical, but therein lies the charm. The characters, the events, the's all a bit over the top, but in such a delicious way, you don't mind suspending your disbelief for even a second.

I loved the book so much, that as soon as I turned the final page, I went online and ordered her second novel, The Sugar Queen. I've actually already read it, too, but you'll have to wait for that review.

Book Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Veens said...

Wow! ok let me go and search for this one now :)

bermudaonion said...

The cover of that book just calls my name. I'm so glad to see the book lives up to the beautiful cover.

Zibilee said...

I have seen other reviews of this book, and it really looks like a great read. I am interested to see your review of the next in the series, because I am am going to commit to them, I want to read all of them. Glad you enjoyed the book!

Petunia said...

I recently read this book too. I also loved the cover and Evanelle but I hated the ending. The magical parts were fun to read but the ending just didn't fit.

Traci said...


The two books center on different characters and stories. There's no reason you have to read one before the other because aside from a little 'magic' in each, they don't share anything. Just so you know. If you happen to come across The Sugar Queen, you could always read it first.

Traci said...


Yeah, I can see why you'd say that. I did think that certain aspects were a little out of character and abrupt, but I liked the ending enough. It definitely wasn't the strongest part, but I liked the rest of the book enough that it didn't bother me.

Sheila DeChantal said...

It looks like a great read and you review it so well. Now I want it. :)