Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen has been recommended by several people – namely Celina, Angie and Michelle. It’s a book that falls under the genre magic realism and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it.
Here’s the Summary from Sarah Addison Allen’s website:
Welcome to Bascom, North Carolina, where everyone has a story to tell about the Waverleys. There’s the house that’s been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, and the wild rumors of dangerous loves and tragic passions. Claire has always clung to the Waverleys’ roots, tending the enchanted soil in the family garden from which she makes her sought-after delicacies. She has everything she thinks she needs, until one day she wakes to find a stranger has moved in next door and a vine of ivy has crept into her garden… and Claire’s carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.
What a lovely surprise Garden Spells turned out to be. I’ve had my copy for several months now and I only felt the urge to pick it up this weekend, when I felt like I could use a bit of magic in my reading. It looks like I’m going to become a fan of magic realism because I like that it’s mostly contemporary fiction with just enough magic sprinkled in to make things more intriguing. The Waverley women have always had a hint of magic in their blood. In Claire Waverley, this comes out in her cooking. She has the power to influence how other people feel by using flowers and plants from the Waverley garden. The apple tree in the garden is famous because when a person takes a bite from one of its apples, they see the biggest point of their life (good or bad). Claire embraced her Waverley roots early on but her younger sister Sydney feels the opposite. Sydney left town as a teenager, just like their mother did, but she’s realized that Bascom, North Carolina is still home. Out of the blue, she comes back home with her young daughter in tow. Claire welcomes them even though she’s afraid of change and that they’ll eventually leave her again.
This book was a delight to read. It’s the sort of book that will probably become a comfort read in the future. It’s also a perfect gift for female relatives and friends because it’s light and there’s a bit of everything in it – some romance, a little magic, small-town gossip and family issues. It will also make you hungry because there are a lot of references to food due to the nature of Claire’s work (she’s a caterer) and her Waverley magic. I like how both Claire and Sydney developed as characters throughout the book. Claire’s a shy, reserved person who’s afraid to let people in because she has abandonment issues. Slowly but surely, she learns to open herself up to the people who matter the most. While her sister Sydney starts putting down roots and learns that being a Waverley isn’t as bad as she remembered. The minor characters in the book are also well-developed and I like how they flesh out the story. Even the Waverley garden (the apple tree in particular) has a mind of its own. I highly recommend this book and if Sarah Addison Allen’s other books are just as good as this one, then I’d be more than happy to read them.