Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

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 thatโ€™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 Waverleysโ€™ 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 Claireโ€™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.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Hey Lady, Watcha Readin’?
Best Fantasy Stories
I Heart Paperbacks

27 thoughts on “Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

  1. I got it while I was on a family vacation, and when things get stressful (as family vacations tend to be) I read it to relax. It worked wonders.

    It was a bit reminiscent of Practical Magic for me, which was not a bad thing, because I loved the movie/book.

    • I usually bring a book with me on vacations too! I try to squeeze in reading time before sleeping or when we’re hanging out by the beach.

      A lot of reviews say that this is really similar to Practical Magic. I remember watching the movie when I was younger but I can’t recall the details. I haven’t picked up the book though, maybe I should.

  2. I absolutely loved this book — her next one The Sugar Queen is also fabulous. Magical realism is wonderful — I loved The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, and there are some Alice Hoffman novels that delve into this. Of Bees and Mist is one I haven’t read, but I have heard that is also in the same category as well. I’m glad to hear that you liked this book!

    • I’ve read The Sugar Queen and I’ll post my review probably on Thursday. I ordered The Girl Who Chased the Moon from the Book Depository and I hope it arrives soon so I can read it as well.

      Thank you for the recommendation! Of Bees and Mist is already on my wishlist but I’ll check out the others that you mentioned. I have to agree that magical realism is wonderful. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Lovely review! I just adore her writing as you know. There’s something about how she puts the words to the pages that makes the people and things come alive. It’s like you mentioned the apple tree having a mind of it’s own, and it really does! It’s so neat! You’ll see in The Girl Who Chased the Moon that it’s something in the main character’s bedroom, and it’s so cool!

    Yay! I’m truly so happy you loved this story. It’s definitely a comfort read and I can’t wait to read all of her novels!

    • Danielle, I really want to read The Girl Who Chased the Moon already! My copy from the Book Depository still hasn’t arrived. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ It’s really easy to fall into her writing and I’m glad she has a new novel coming out next year.

      I hope you get to read all of her novels soon and I’ll watch out for your reviews of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Yay, I’m so glad that you liked this one!:) I was pleasantly surprised with this book and loved the magical elements in it.

    I hope your copy of The Girl Who Chased the Moon arrives soon.:)

    • Celina, thanks for recommending this! Now I understand why so many book buyers in Multiply fight over copies of Sarah Addison Allen’s books. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Me too, it has been two weeks since I ordered so the books should be due to arrive anytime soon.

    • Ladybug, I’ve also seen this book mentioned several times and that made me curious. It’s really easy to like no matter what your genre preferences are. I hope you get to pick it up soon.

  5. Yep, this was my intro to SAA and I was hooked from the very start. THE SUGAR QUEEN is my favorite, I think. Because of Josie and Adam and because of Chloe and the books that look out for her. I just don’t think any real lover of books could fail to be charmed by that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Angie, I already wrote my review of The Sugar Queen and I mentioned how books just turn up for Chloe whenever she needs them. Such an enchanting magical concept. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad she’s coming out with a new book next year, more goodness to look forward to!

  6. Oh yay! This one is such a comfort read for me. I love all the food and family drama and how hard it is for Claire to come out of her shell. Lovely stuff. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Ms. SAA’s other books.

    • Love all the food in it too! I wish I knew someone who cooked like Claire. I mean even without the magic, I’d love to try out edible flowers. It really was so much fun watching Claire come out of her shell and how she gradually let people in. ๐Ÿ™‚

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