Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Genre: Fantasy
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 291
Book Source: Library borrow

In Bascom, North Carolina, everyone has a stroy to tell about the Waverley women. The old house that's been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, the rumours of dangerous loves and tragic passions. There's not a Waverley that isn't somehow touched by magic.

Claire has always clung closely to the Waverley's roots, tending the family garden to grow the secret ingredients for her sought-after delicasies. She thinks she has everything she needs - until one day she finds a vine of ivy creeping into her garden and knows that everything is about to change - book cover

This was a magical, enchanting read. It made me feel like everything was right in the world, the kind of feeling you get with the first sign of spring flowers, a breath of fresh air on a still day, a rainbow after a sun shower. I guess the magical component really appealed to the little girl in me but this isn't just a story about magic, it's about self discovery, place, belonging and love, wrapped up in a gentle, uncomplicated read.

Claire's younger sister Sydney returns to the family home with her daughter Bay to escape an abusive relationship after a 10 year absence from Bascom.  As acceptance and trust between Sydney and Claire grows, the sisterly bond they have both longed for also flourishes.

Each member of the Waverley family has a special gift, gifts that tie them to their family name, whether they believe it or not. 80 year old Aunt Evanelle has the gift of anticipation, little Bay is a wise old soul who just knows where things belong, Sydney understands the language of hair and Claire uses her catering business to share the magic of flowers and herbs. And who'd dare forget the mischievious and enchanted apple tree with prophetic fruit. Delightful characters, beautiful writing and as the story unfolds we watch the men in Claire and Sydney's lives, push aside barriers to create some magic of their own.

Sydney walked into the kitchen and froze.
She'd just walked into heaven.
And her grandmother was right there, in every scent.
Sugary and sweet.
Herby and sharp.
Yeasty and fresh.

Cinnamon and nutmeg for prosperity, roses for love, nasturtiums to keep a secret, lilac for humility, pansy to encourage compliments, honeysuckle to see in the dark ... and Garden Spells for a magical escape!

From Sarah Addison Allen's website:
"Garden Spells, my mainstream debut, didn’t start out as a magical novel. It was supposed to be a simple story about two sisters reconnecting after many years. But then the apple tree started throwing apples and the story took on a life of its own...and my life hasn’t been the same since."

Garden Spells was once titled Garden Spells and Southern Belles
Like Claire in the book, Sarah's real sister's name is Sydney.
Evanelle is based on a dear old woman with the same name, a friend of Sarah's great-aunt, who would come by with surprises in the form of broccoli cornbread and sweet potato pie and buckets of blackberries.

Visit http://www.sarahaddisonallen/ for excerpts, interesting tidbits, recipes & book news. Sarah Addison Allen's  2nd book, The Sugar Queen was published in 2008 and The Girl Who Chased the Moon is due for release March 2010.

This month on The Eclectic Reader you could win Fire by Kristen Cashore OR Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick OR Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. Love the cover! And the herbs! Everything...I must get myself a copy!

  2. God! Thi sbook is so for me! You know I read Like water for Chocolate and decided that i love magic realism a lot! and this one fits my description of an awesome book! i just need to get this one!

  3. I loved this book when I read it. It was an enchanting little read that just made me happy. Glad you felt the same way! =)

    Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

  4. What a lovely review. I love the description of how it made you feel. I can't wait for the next Sarah Addison Allen book to come out.

  5. Great review! I've borrowed this book from the library so I can read it. Sounds so sweet!

  6. celi.a ~ I loved the herbs/flowers/cooking, I could so read more of that!

    Veens ~ thanks I'm going to check out Like Water For Chocolate

    Meghan ~ will pop in and check out your review

    Viv ~ I can't wait to pick up The Sugar Queen next, might order it from the library.

    Alaine ~ I think you'll love it, it is sweet!

  7. I really liked this book. I could really feel the atmosphere coming off the pages as I read. Have you read The Sugar Queen? Different but I liked it as well. Can't wait for the next book (in 2010)!

  8. I read this book already, and absolutly LOVED it! It was one of my favorite reads of 2008. That was well before my review site...lol. I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I have The Sugar Queen on my TBR list. I'm loving this author's work so far, and can't wait to get into it.

  9. This sounds like a great book. I love earthy magic books. Thanks.

  10. Oh this looks good. The first two sentences of your review really hooked me. I love that feeling of spring.

  11. I loved this book, though mine hada different cover. I have The Sugar Queen but haven't read it yet.
    I'm glad you liked it

  12. I jusr recently heard of this book and thought it sounded wonderful. This is the first time I have seen it reviewed. Looks great!

  13. I have this book and can't wait to read it! Every review I have read about it has been excellent! I also have The Sugar Queen, but have not read it yet, either.

    Happy Reading!

  14. I love magical books! Great review :)

  15. Very interesting! Nice description by the way. Plus we've got an award for you here!

  16. What a lovely review! I have wanted to read this for quite a while and your review makes me wnat to bump it up. Thanks Teddy!

  17. I love the way this book made you feel. This really does sound like it'd be a great book to brighten anyones day! I'll be on the look out for this one. Wonderful review!

  18. I've had so many people recommend this book and never got around to reading it.

    Great review!

  19. This is a beautifully written review -- you've piqued my interest. :-)

  20. Teddy, I have quoted your review on my post today. I hope you don't mind :)


  21. Here is my old review of Like Water for Chocolate. this was written last uear, before i lost my blog and my comments! :(



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