Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Review: Garden Spells
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Summary (from Publishers Weekly): Two gifted sisters draw on their talents to belatedly forge a bond and find their ways in life. . . Thirty-four-year-old Claire Waverley manifests her talent in cooking; using edible flowers, Claire creates dishes that affect the eater in curious ways. But not all Waverley women embrace their gifts; some, including Claire's mother, escape the family's eccentric reputation by running away. She abandoned Claire and her sister when they were young. Consequently, Claire has remained close to home, unwilling to open up to new people or experiences. Claire's younger sister, Sydney, however, followed in their mother's footsteps 10 years ago and left for New York, and after a string of abusive, roustabout boyfriends, returns to Bascom, N.C., with her five-year-old daughter, Bay. As Sydney reacquaints herself with old friends and rivals, she discovers her own Waverley magic.
Who would like this one? Anyone in the mood for a light, sweet story and some magic! And particularly Southern lit fans who are in the mood for magic. (You really do need to be in the mood to totally suspend your disbelief and give in to it, though.)
Favourite line: I found this description of joy to be really lovely: "Yellow joy was radiating from her. When you're happy for yourself, it fills you. When you're happy for someone else, it pours over."
Overall: I was enchanted by these Spells! I was definitely happy to give in to the magic of Bascom and its inhabitants. Even the non-magical folks all have family legacies they grow into - this family's women are all great at sex, this family's men always marry older women, this family is full of gossips. It really gives Bascom its own flavour and heritage.
I loved how the Waverley women's talents manifested themselves in different ways - Claire with her cooking, Sydney has a gift for giving the perfect haircut, even little Bay always knows where things belong, which stands her in very good stead. Their distant relative, Evanelle, has perhaps the most interesting yet frustrating skill - she gets feelings that she must give people things. All kinds of things - gadgets, spare change, clothing - she can't rest until she's given them the item and they always end up needing it, though sometimes for strange or unwelcome reasons.
Plus, there's a magical apple tree! The apples show the eater either the very best or very worst moment of their life. The Waverley women know not to eat them, but the tree keeps trying (and the townspeople are very curious about the fruit). The tree likes and dislikes certain people, it likes to throw apples, and sometimes it tries to be helpful and other times it's very stubborn.
Romance, the healing of a family rift, and a magic apple tree - what more could you want?