Everyone in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, knows that there’s something strange about the Waverleys. Flowers bloom in their garden all year round, and the apple tree in their yard has certain unusual properties. Claire Waverley has lived in Bascom since childhood and is happy to embrace her special role as a Waverley. By contrast, her sister Sydney left town after high school and has been constantly on the move ever since. The two sisters have never gotten along; but when Sydney unexpectedly returns to Bascom with her daughter Bay in tow, they must find a way to heal their relationship and face the consequences of their respective pasts.
I love Sarah Addison Allen’s books, and Garden Spells is certainly no exception. Allen’s writing is lush, magical, and romantic; while I’m normally not a big fan of flowery descriptions, in this case they contribute to the vivid atmosphere. Both Claire and Sydney are well-drawn characters in whom I became very invested, and the secondary characters are also quirky and interesting. I especially liked Evanelle, an elderly Waverley woman who is occasionally compelled to give people random objects that they later turn out to need. My only quibble is that Bay seems a bit precocious for a 5-year-old, but it didn’t bother me that much. I’d definitely recommend this book, and Sarah Addison Allen in general, to people looking for light fiction with a unique twist. Unfortunately I only have one of her books left to discover, The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Hopefully she’ll write another one soon!