Claire 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 her carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.I won Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen a few weeks ago from the fabulous Lynn Viehl.
Allen told a lovely story, and once I got started, I read quickly and was left with warm-fuzzies.
Every smiley moon, without fail, Claire dreamed of her childhood. She always tried to stay awake those nights when the stars winked and the moon was just a cresting sliver smiling provocatively down at the world, the way pretty women on vintage billboards used to smile as they sold cigarettes and limeade.So begins Garden Spells. The story is of the Waverly family, an oddly-gifted group of characters who are trying (or not) to cope with themselves. They are helped (and sometimes hindered) by their garden, in which grows special flowers, herbs, and an eccentric apple tree. Allen characterization (and each character's specific form of magic) is well done, the world building is fully realized, and the vivid descriptions of Claire's catering left me hungry to try some of the delicious dishes. The darker moments in the story just bring the lighter ones out in better relief.
Garden Spells is magical and romantic. A story about family, taking chances, and the everyday places magic hides. There are precious few novels that are especially unforgettable but this is one of them and I highly recommend it.
As Lynn Viehl herself said:
Ms. Allen's debut novel does not read at all like a debut novel, and it's the kind of book you end up sharing with everyone you know, even people who don't like to read, so it can work its magic on them.