Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden SpellsTitle: Garden Spells
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 290
Published: Available now from Bantam Books
ISBN: 9780553590326
Source: Library

Description: The Waverleys 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, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.  A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.  When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. 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 Give This ...

I'm not sure what drew me to this book really.  It's not a type that I'm normally drawn too.  But, something caught my I and I added it to my to read list.  I finally got around to reading it and I'm glad I did.

The story has a realism to it that I found interesting.  The characters feel like they could be anybody.  They have real problems and real family dynamics. The "magic" the Waverley's are known for seems entirely plausible.   I liked all the characters for what they bring to the story.   Claire was my least favorite, but I think that's because she's so guarded.  She doesn't let herself feel emotions because she afraid of people leaving her.  I was fascinated by what she did with food.  I've never thought certain ingredients can invoke certain emotions.  It was fun to watch her work, especially when she was trying to discourage her neighbors feelings towards her.

Syndey was a character that seemed to wear her heart of her sleeve.  She's been running from family since she was old enough to make the decision to leave.  I liked how she was willing to do anything to protect her daughter, even if it meant facing the one thing she was trying to forget.  The man she was running from was scary, but an all to familiar character.  I really liked her daughter and she seemed to fit in with the rest of the characters so well.

The  story comes full circle, with all the character coming to terms with who they were and who they are now.  I enjoyed the changes the characters make.  I loved the magical elements.  They were so subtle that it didn't feel like fantasy.  I will look for something else by Sarah Addison Allen, because I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

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