Book Title: Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1)
Book Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)
Synopsis: “The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures. A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants – from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys – except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before. When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down – along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy – if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom – or with each other.”
I’m not usually one to seek out books intended for adults that have a lot of magic or fantasy thrown into the mix, and I am so glad that I did not immediately dismiss this book due to its magical theme. Because for all of its whimsical fluff, this book did deal with some pretty heavy subject matter and was overall a really engaging story.
All of the Waverley women in the small town of Bascom are known for their garden containing mystical plants, fruits, and herbs. For generations, the family has tended to this garden, and now the only two remaining members of the family are Claire and Sydney Waverley. These two women are about as different as two sisters can be. Claire was happy to stay behind and carry on the family tradition of tending the garden, while Sydney left town immediately after high school and never looked back. After facing some heartbreaking hardships, Sydney and her young daughter return home to Bascom, subsequently turning Claire’s life upside down. While Sydney is the free-spirited and impulsive sister, Claire likes to keep her life organized and closes herself off from many close relationships. As the sisters begin to grow closer, they each also open their heart to the possibility of new love and new beginnings. Having both been hurt severely by those they loved most in the past, that is no easy feat.
A completely compelling and unique novel, and way too good to be classified as just a straight-up romance. It is about the bonds of family, and finding strength when all hope seems lost. The magical spin on this tale was really fun, too, and added an extra layer to this already rich story. I am really looking forward to visiting this family again in the upcoming sequel!