Ariela's Reviews > Garden Spells

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
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's review
Aug 03, 09

really liked it

“Garden Spells” is an enjoyable book about a small-town family called the Waverleys, whose women are known for having mystical gifts. Claire, the oldest sister, is a caterer who uses magical plants in her kitchen, creating succulent treats such as crystallized pansy cupcakes that make children thoughtful, honeysuckle wine that makes you think of the past and lavender tea cookies that help you keep secrets. Townspeople place a lot of stock in the supernatural powers of Claire’s food, and her dishes also double as her means of communication with the world. An introverted woman who prefers to spend her time alone, Claire uses herbs to dissuade amorous attentions or even take revenge upon a spiteful woman who attempts to humiliate Claire’s younger sister, Sydney. Sydney has her gifts too, as does Evanelle, an elderly cousin. I won’t give away what they do or how their talents influence events around town, but altogether the Waverleys lead a rather charmed existence – right down to the apple tree in their backyard, which bears prophetic fruit and chucks apples at people.

When combined with the relationships they build together, the Waverleys’ magical heritage allows them to overcome some fairly intimidating obstacles – for instance, a horribly abusive husband in Sydney’s not too distant past. The resulting story draws you in, making the novel pass by all too quickly. I finished the book in two days so I clearly relished it, but I have to admit that the plot can be somewhat disjointed at times. Allen tries to weave the story of another family – the Clarks, whose women have the ‘gift’ of being amazing in bed – into the main narrative, but the Clark women are mostly shallow and insecure, perhaps because so little time is devoted to the development of their characters. But I zipped through “Garden Spells” anyways – it’s a light, enchanting read that will leave you eager for Allen’s next fictional offering.

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