[amazon_image id=”055338483X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]Garden Spells (Bantam Discovery)[/amazon_image]Sarah Addison Allen’s first novel [amazon_link id=”055338483X” target=”_blank” ]Garden Spells[/amazon_link] is the story of Claire and Sydney Waverley, two sisters from Bascom, North Carolina. The Waverleys are odd. Claire seems to be able to influence the moods and attitudes of people who eat the food she caters, and she’s become a wildly popular caterer as a result. Sydney is restless and wild. She left Bascom right after high school to run away from her Waverley heritage, but returns ten years later with her daughter Bay after escaping an abusive relationship. The two sisters must reconcile their pasts and open their hearts to the possibilities of their present and future.
Allen’s books won’t appeal to everyone. Like [amazon_link id=”0553807226″ target=”_blank” ]The Peach Keeper[/amazon_link], Garden Spells strains at credulity with magical realism and a hint of witchcraft—perhaps even more so than The Peach Keeper, but in the context of the story, it seems to make sense. I liked all of the characters, particularly Evanelle, a Waverley relation who has strange urges to give objects to people, and the objects always prove useful later. I really liked the apple tree in the backyard, too—if you eat an apple from the tree, it will show you the most significant moment of your life, and for that reason, the Waverleys tend to avoid the fruit and bury the apples it drops before wayward townspeople can sneak into the garden and eat because after all, who wants to find out what the most significant moment of your life will be? That’s dangerous.
This is a fun summer read. It’s light and funny and captures the setting and characters. I do love a book with great characters. I’m a Sarah Addison Allen fan for sure after two great books in a row. You will not find writing that takes your breath away, but you will find a solid story with great characters to love.