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Garden Spells

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  48,101 ratings  ·  6,410 reviews
The women of the Waverley family -- whether they like it or not -- are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 28th 2007 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2007)
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Heather Williams You might like Tracy Madison. I read one of her books, A Taste of Magic, a few years ago. It was a romance with a bit of magic.
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Favorite Magical Realism Novels
6th out of 675 books — 3,458 voters
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Quirky Southern Fiction
5th out of 586 books — 1,474 voters

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Community Reviews

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Chicken soup when you're sick. Chocolate when you're hormonal. Lavender for your bathroom. Citrus for the kitchen. Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Peppermint at Christmas time.

This book completely spoke my language - that of food and how we are connected to what we serve, eat and order. We may not be able to put magic into our cooking, but as a mother I know there are certain things to feed my family for certain reasons, and that can be sort of a form of magic (at least to the little child in bed w...more
Apr 15, 2008 Grace rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Practical Magic
Yes, this book is definitely reminsicent of Practical Magic in plotline. I can't imagine anyone not thinking so...a beautiful old house, two magical sisters whose mother died when they were young, one practical and a homebody, the other a wild woman with a daughter who comes back home to escape an abusive man. Um...sounds familiar. Very.


The author creates an amazing atmosphere, and the basics of the plot may be the same, but the details are entirely new and lovely. The aunt Evanelle is an abs...more
Kristin (KC)
*3.5 Stars*

I’ll keep this review short, and—in the spirit of this adorable story—sweet.

Garden Spells offered the perfect magical escape I was searching for. The writing was exquisite and the plot—enchanting. This book did sort of feel like a cross between Practical Magic and Sleeping with the Enemy, as many readers have mentioned, but it certainly offered a unique enough spin in its storytelling.

The element of magic was handled with care and executed to perfection: not too far-out there, but so...more
For generations, the Waverly family has made their home in Bascom, North Carolina. Each of the Waverly women possesses a unique magic which has made them a curiosity in the town, but their oddness also keeps others at a distance. Claire is a caterer who uses the enchanted herbs and flowers in her garden to prepare exquisite dishes that affect the eater's feelings. Claire’s aunt, Evanelle, gives odd and random gifts that she knows the recipient will need in the future. Her younger sister, Sydney,...more
Dec 06, 2007 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women...and men who appreciate magic
What I learned from this book is...if an apple tree throws its apples at you, for goodness sake, pay attention already!

This book is lovely, magical, enchanting. I sat down to read just one chapter, basically to decide whether it was worth holding onto even though it was already overdue. At 2:30 a.m. I finished the whole darn thing. Couldn't stop myself. I floated in a state of suspended reality, where time had no meaning.

The basic idea of the book: two sisters experienced their childhoods very...more
It is really difficult for me to find a book that suits me. I love stories, and I love to read. Since I don’t have a lot of time to read, I have to be really picky. Which means, if it hasn’t grabbed my attention early on, I normally don’t continue.

When I saw Garden Spells on the shelves in the book store I immediately wanted to read it because of the cover, the title and the blurb. I knew for sure that this was a book that I had to read.

I was so excited when I sat down and opened the book. Perha...more
Jun 26, 2013 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: meh, blog
In Bascom, North Carolina, everyone is destined to live up to their family name. Clark women are lascivious femme fatales, Mattesons will be wealthy and put family duty first, Hopkins men always marry older women, and the females of the Waverley clan always manifest a quaint magical talent. Fate is heavy-handed in Bascom. There's no escaping your name and there's no escaping your heritage, even though Sydney Waverley, just like her mother before her, has tried.

Sydney grew up a Waverley, but didn...more
Set in North Carolina, we explore the lives of the Waverly women and their strangeness in a community where everyone has their expectations for the long family lines native to the area. The Waverley's have a garden where an enchanted apple tree grows and Claire masterfully creates foods with properties that do more than tantalize the taste buds. The ideas behind this are great and this first novel for Sarah Addison Allen might be a fun summer read for someone less picky than me. While I enjoyed...more
Sometimes you just need a good enchanting fantasy with humor, heart and charming loveable characters. I enjoyed the differnt points of view and the revealing look into their personal jouney for love, strength and fulfillment. It captured everyday loss, pain, and personal growth and twisted in the perfect touch of whimsy.
There is a unique magical apple tree that grows in the Waverly's back garden and each Waverly woman or girl has an special gift to share with the little town of Bascom, North Ca...more
This book is completely twee and unoriginal, and I am a little embarrassed to be reading it. It's the literary equivalent of eating a whole box of cookies -- but not even good cookies, more like Snackwell's. Mediocre and unsatisfying.

(And yet I am reading it anyway.)

Now that I've finished it, I can say definitively that the barrage of five-star reviews for this book kind of makes me lose my faith in humanity. Even if you like this kind of writing, it is so clearly a wholesale ripoff of "Practica...more
Fascinating premise, ineptly implemented.

The author is a graduate of the Octavia Butler/Rosie Lyons School of Literature which features victims instead of protagonists.

Shamelessly manipulative.

The family of witches in a magic garden is a great setting for a novel. It is pathetic that the author could not do any better than this.
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
With the Bascom, Carolina setting adding that element of Southern charm, this is just a gentle feel-good story about longing for a safe place and learning to trust. Prefer when the fantasy aspect isn’t heavy-handed; that a garden would be full of mystical elements wasn’t a stretch for me at all! Allen blends in the magic with the softest touch.
It’s about the developing relationship between two entirely different sisters and there struggle to find common ground. The romance with the new men in t...more
Garden Spells is delightful and magical. It is the story of two sisters who are reunited, one of them returning home after leaving an abusive situation. Both sisters possess magical abilities.

The characters are colorful. The romance is tender and romantic. I enjoyed the descriptions of baking and gardening and how the two intersect. The small town setting, the herbal potions and a magical apple tree only make the story more charming. It was resminiscent of Practical Magic, yet more romantic and...more
Heather Ormsby
Well, this is tricky. I really enjoyed the book. I enjoyed it the first time I read it when it was called "Practical Magic" by Alice Hoffman. Was it plagiarism? I'm not sure - that's for Hoffman's lawyers to decide, but if you enjoyed the following things about Hoffman's book, then you'll enjoy this one:
- a lovely garden where the plants grow in an atmosphere of magical realism, out of time and season.
- two sisters who seem polar opposites, who suffered the loss of their mother at a young age an...more
May 28, 2008 Bonnie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those looking for an easy and enchanting read
Recommended to Bonnie by: Barnes & Noble
I saw Sarah Addison Allen's new book "Sugar Queen" at Barnes & Noble and thought it looked interesting, but was unwilling to pay the price for a hardback book on an untried author. So, instead I picked up "Garden Spells" because of its beautiful cover and interesting synopsis. I'm VERY glad I did.

The story and the magic were...well...magical...and enchanting. I love gardens and books where people have green thumbs, unlike myself. The garden is a main character in this story, specifically th...more
Lisa Kay
Who would have thought I’d like a book about an apple tree with an attitude , but even it wormed its way into my heart in this charming story of two sisters.

In fact, I loved all the enchanting Waverley females: Claire and Sydney, who were never close in childhood, but are discovering the true meaning of sisterhood. Their distant cousin (“second or third or fourteenth cousin”) Evanelle, who at seventy-nine, still feels a strange compulsion to give people things she knows they will eventually need...more
Christine (AR)
Two sisters deal with being magical in a small town. Practical Magic by way of Allende.

I don't care if this is almost the same story as Practical Magic; I thought it was lovely. A very fast read, very prettily written, and it has some absolutely beautiful moments. Really nice.
Ποια συνταγή περιλαμβάνει δύο αδερφές, που η μια δεν ανήκει πουθενά, ενώ η άλλη έχει ριζώσει σταθερά σε ένα μέρος; Τι γεύση παίρνει αυτή η συνταγή όταν προστίθενται σε αυτήν μια γριά που μοιράζει απρόσμενα δώρα, ένας άβουλος gay, 2 ερωτοχτυπημένοι νέοι και ένα μικρό κορίτσι που ξέρει τον προορισμό του κάθε αντικειμένου έμψυχου ή μη; Προσθέστε και πολλά πολλά μαγικά μήλα από μια πανέξυπνη, επιθετική μηλιά και voilà, έτοιμη η συνταγή. Ένα ανάλαφρο, φρέσκο ανάγνωσμα που σε παρασύρει σε έναν κόσμο,...more
Aug 07, 2011 Tina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tina by: Chachic
Original post at One More Page

I've heard so many good things about Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, but it took me a while before I acquired it and even some more time before I decided to read it. Every now and then, there's a book that comes along and takes you in and makes you comfortable with every page. They're those books that you just sink into effortlessly, almost like it was an old friend welcoming you with warm food after a long day's travel. I am very, very glad to say that Gard...more
In a small southern town, Claire Waverly runs a catering business out of her small family farm, but her quiet, secure life is turned upside down, when a new next-door neighbor moves in, at the same time that her footloose, wilder younger sister Sydney comes home. Sydney is on the run from an abusive ex, and she and her six-year-old daughter Bay need a place to hide and recover. But Sydney's history, both in the town and out of it, has a way of catching up on her. This book is basically about rel...more
Margaret Oneal
Feb 03, 2008 Margaret Oneal rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adult readers, women, fantasy lovers
Recommended to Margaret by: Bell, Book and Candle Bookstore
I wasn't sure I was going to like this book... but then I never am. That seems to the mantra that I open every book with: distrust of the author's skill, interests, etc. I was encouraged early on by the author's gift for language... Bits like "She was so Southern that she cried tears that came straight from the Mississipi...", and "Memories, even hard memories, grew soft like peaches as they got older."

Ah, you're thinking that this is one of those dreary Southern rites of passage books, one of t...more
I made one of my departures from YA into the adult book world with Garden Spells. This is a book about place and belonging and love. It centers around the Waverley family, specifically, Waverley women. Claire was only 6 when her mother brought her to the Waverley family home in Bascom, North Carolina, where she has lived quietly ever since, but her early experiences have made her terrified of becoming close to people. Claire's younger sister, Sydney, was born in Bascom but left after high school...more
Since I've heard such great things about this book, and especially about this author, I was a little leery of trying it, only to not love it. Well, that is not a problem! This book was so enchanting and adorable! I can't think of anything I didn't love about it! In the beginning, I have to admit, it did bother me a bit that it seemed very similar to Practical Magic, at least the movie version, that I thought it might be ripping it off. And although there are some very strong resemblances, by the...more

Original post here.

Garden Spells is easily one of the best feel-good YA books that I've read of late. I loved the element of magic, most especially, and was pleasantly surprised when I found I couldn't put the book down until I was done with it.

The entire time I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think about the 1998 film Practical Magic starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, who also played sisters in the movie. Just as Sally and Gillian Owens were diametrical opposites in Practical...more
This is the second book by Sarah Addison Allen I've read and I really enjoy her style. I'm glad to see she's written so many books, I'll be reading more. They give me quite a hangover....

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Starting out with this book I almost chucked it across the room and grabbed the next one from my stack to read. It really was so much like Practical Magic! But instead I went to goodreads and read some reviews. Feeling a little more hopeful I continued on. It didn't take too long for me to forget al...more
Lauren Giova
Oct 10, 2007 Lauren Giova rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Most likely the best book I've read in a while. The story enfolds you from the very first page. And i have nothing but praise for it so i will make it short.

I definitely identified with at least one of the characters if not all of the them. I saw parallels from the novel to my life and i think a lot of readers will feel the same way. I believe that is what makes a story good, when you can place yourself in the situations the characters have placed themselves in. That's what makes it believable...more
What a nice book! A touch of the paranormal and romance, here. The book centers around a family with the last name of "Waverly." Claire Waverly is a caterer and uses flowers, herbs, etc grown from her mystical family garden to help people with personal problems from limiting their loose tongues, to love portions. The family garden contains an apple tree that really added life to the book. That tree had a personality! Literally.

There was the occasional use of the "F" word that seemed...out of pl...more
I loved, loved, loved this book. It reminded me of Practical Magic with a bit of Simply Irresistible thrown in. I had a hard time putting it down because of my enjoyment.

Yes, it is predictable. But I really liked the everyday magic--there's a real feel-good vibe to this book. I liked the characters and the depiction of a small town. Sure, entire families are categorized with specific traits, but there was a part of me that found comfort in that.

Great summmer escape read.
What a fun read, not great literature but a smart, enjoyable story of relationship awakenings. This had been on my TBR list for a long time because I'm not really into chick-lit, but, I think this was more than that. Just an overall good story of two estranged sisters trying to move forward in their lives after experiencing a pretty rough childhood. It was not sappy at all but there was a pretty feisty apple tree involved and some very quirky characters.

As always Susan Ericksen did excellent jo...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Jul 31, 2009 Shellie (Layers of Thought) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women with chic lit, romance, paranormal interests.
Recommended to Shellie (Layers of Thought) by: NBBC mod
Touted as a book with magical realism, I have to agree. Garden Spells is a sweet and enchanting novel that takes the reader into a world that is real to life but it has elements that are supernatural. It is not literature. It is wonderfully fun fluff.
Mini Synopsis: The Waverleys have been residents of this small Southern town for generations. That the women of this family have special gifts is common knowledge in the community. The main character Claire is a 30 something woman with a fear of com...more
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New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journa...more
More about Sarah Addison Allen...
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“You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?” 129 likes
“She looked like autumn, when leaves turned and fruit ripened.” 128 likes
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