Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen #Review

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen #ReviewGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Published by Bantam Publisher on August 28, 2007
Pages: 306
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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four-half-stars      three-flames

So, I was visiting fellow reader, Bloedeudd’s Book Girl of Mur-y Castell blog, and read her review of First Frost.  And it reminded me.  I wanted to read Garden Spells the first book in the series.  And a visit to the library sealed the deal when it was the book that leaped out at me (no, not literally- though if I lived in the author’s Waverley family word it might really happen).

And argh, this was another one that was so wonderful that I’m sad to have put it off for so long.  Small town, sisters, family, magic, and summer love.  Sigh… didn’t want to leave.  And I don’t have to because there is more.

The story has multiple story threads and narrators, but it starts with change for Claire Waverley.  A handsome new neighbor, her odd aunt sharing her gift, and Sydney the wild Waverley sister finally home after ten years and bringing her daughter, Bay.  Sydney’s arrival causes a breath of air to sweep through the sleepy little town.  And the apple tree in the Waverley garden feels the ripples and works its wiles.

Claire is the homebody.  She loves her home and her connection to family.  She tends the garden that grows at the foot of the old apple tree.  Her food is sought by those who need some magic in their lives.  Aunt Evanelle has the gift of giving the precise item people need before they tend to need it, but losing her husband has left her lonely until finally she is given someone to keep.  Now there is Sydney who has a gift with hair, a hard past, and a desire for redemption when she comes home to keep her child safe.  And Bay who knows where things belong especially that she and her mother belong in the old house with the garden, that her aunt keeps everything in its place and holds their handsome friendly neighbor at arms’ length, and that someone special has been waiting for her mother to return back to her roots.  Yes, change has come and the old apple tree in the garden has been waiting.

I slipped into this warm, easy tale of magical realism like one would a comfortable natty sweater.  I loved the setting of the town, the old house that is full of magic, the garden of edible flowers and growing things, the whimsical apple tree, the colorful characters, and the gently-paced plot full of sisterly reconciliation, love, growth, and some challenges left to be won.

It was all in the little things that I was drawn in and felt connected.  Claire’s sumptuous food and well-rooted reliable nature, Evanelle’s wry wisdom, Sydney’s keen observation of human nature, and young Bay’s sense of rightness and place.  Loved it.  Then there was Tyler, the man who fell for Claire and wouldn’t give up, the snooty Clarks and their posse, the heartbroken Fred who still needs to find his way, Henry and his granddad who appreciate mature, grounded women.  Things happen and life has a way of surprising one, but there wasn’t much drama.  So the everyday was where the magic was found.

In summary, I loved it and would easily recommend it to those who love Contemporary Small Town Fiction, Romance, and a dab of magical realism.

Challenges Met:
Romance Roundabout #142 UF
New to Me #54 Author/series
Books N Tunes #15  Juice Newton’s The Sweetest Thing

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • I love this one too! Claire’s pastries are so decadent sounding, I wish she included a recipe

    • Recipe books for her goodies would be a great seller. I know authors who have done that and I bought them. 🙂

  • Debbie Haupt

    I LOVED Garden Spell and all works of Sarah Addison Allen, her newest First Frost is the sequel To Garden Spells and its on my shelf right now waiting for me 🙂 Thanks for the great review

    • I look forward to First Frost, too. So hard to wait when you have other books to read first. 🙂

  • Great review! This is actually new to me but I’m really intrigued. I like small town settings with interesting characters. Glad you enjoyed this one and felt connected to everyone in some way.

    • That’s great, Shane! I’m always thrilled to point someone toward a book they might enjoy. Yes, this town and the characters are so quirky. Hope you get a chance to read it. 🙂

  • Might I say, Sophia, that I LOVE, LOVE LOVE! small town romances! I don’t know what it is about them exactly that draw me to them so much. I think it’s the “comfort” feeling knowing that everything is close knit? Does that make ANY sense? Thanks for this epical review! (Although all of your reviews are pretty freaking EPICAL!)

    • Oh yes, you can say you love the small town loving. Me, too, Keionda! I like the idea that they are so good because they feel comfortable.

      Ah, glad to have your encouraging words about my reviews. 🙂

  • It’s wonderful to find a book or series that you really love everything about.

    • Yes! This was a delightful find. Glad I saw Bloedeudd’s post.

  • Her books are just awwww *happy feelings*

    • Yes! Like some of the magic spilled out to the reader.

  • oh my goodness…how have I not heard of this one before? Its definitely a book I would want to pick up. I love magic elements, especially with a mix of small town theme.

    • That was me! I was thrilled when the library had it ready to go after I saw the review on the second book in the series.

  • Ah it’s amazing when you pick up a first book in a series and know you won’t have to leave as there are more books after it. It sounds like great one! I definitely know that feeling when you pick up a book and wonder why you waited so long to read it. It sounds interesting how it’s told from multiple point of views and spans so many years.
    I haven’t read that many magical realism books, but it can be a great genre and I’ve read some books in that genre. Great review!

    • Yes! I was glad that there is at least one more book in the series and she’s written other magical realism books. My library has them so I can get them whenever.

      The multiple points of view were interesting because they helped make it feel like the focus was the whole town and the family and there wasn’t just one or two characters. There were several storylines, too. It wasn’t confusing because each break in the story was clear and each character was so unique that it was easy to know who was narrating.
      Ugh, i have such a pile of books to read that there are probably some fantastic ones that are waiting for me. 🙂

  • I want to read her books too. I’ve eyed them at my library, but have never given them a chance. Your review has made me rethink.

    • It was the availability of it at the library right after I read the review on book two that settled it for me. 🙂 This was fun. Hope you get the chance, Lekeisha!

  • Sounds like a sweet one. I like good ones with ensemble casts like this. Also love small town settings.

    • It was sweet, but was seasoned with a few bitter herbs to keep it balanced. This was one of those quirky small towns that was fun to learn about as the story progressed.

  • I went to Amazon. Sorry but I just won’t pay 12.00 for an ebook. It sounds super good so I may have to see if my library has it. You should try The House on Persimmon Street. So good. Small town. Quirky characters. Good romance. And a ghost. I loved it. I think it might be on sale right now. Fantastic review!

    • Oh yikes! I didn’t realize it was so much. I got it at the library. I wouldn’t pay that either.

      Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

  • Oh Sophia. She’s one I keep meaning to try and putting off. Guess that was a mistake. I’ll have to see if it leaps out at me at the library next trip 😀

    • Haha! Yes, it practically jumped off the shelf. 🙂 I need to go back for book two when I get the chance.

  • This was such a good book and I wish I had the paperback because I would definitely re-read it myself. I loved the hometown setting and the paranormal feel of the story. As always, another great review!

    • Me, too! I loved finding it at the library, but after I read it I was sad to return it. 🙂 Definitely loved it for the same reasons as you, Sharonda.

      • You got me on contemplating buying it again, lols 😀

        • Whoops! Sorry to be the devil on your shoulder. But yeah, I’ll be watching for a cheap copy, too. LOL