***Warning: Spoilers for Garden Spells.***
It’s been ten years since the events of Garden Spells, and the Waverley clan has changed in unexpected ways. Claire has given up her catering business to run a much more profitable and far-reaching candy company. But while the candy company keeps her busy and brings in good money, Claire finds herself anxious and uneasy most of the time. Meanwhile, Sydney is married to Henry and desperately wants to give him a son, but so far she’s been unable to conceive a child. Meanwhile, her daughter Bay is now a teenager balancing her desire to fit in with her unique Waverley gifts. She has also fallen in love with local golden boy Josh Matteson, whose parents have big plans for him — plans that certainly don’t include Bay. As the Waverley women prepare for their annual celebration of the first frost, all these tensions continue to rise; and the arrival of a traveling magician with a sinister secret may break apart their family forever.
I love all of Sarah Addison Allen’s books, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this one! Part of me wishes she hadn’t written a sequel to Garden Spells, which I think stands very well on its own. But on the other hand, it was nice to follow up with the Waverleys and see what happened after the happily-ever-after. One thing I really liked was that SAA doesn’t rehash the conflicts from the first book. Garden Spells mainly dealt with the development of Claire and Sydney’s relationship from near-strangers to close sisters, and in this book, that relationship remains solid. At the same time, the past definitely informs the present — for example, Bay’s relationship with Josh is certainly affected by Sydney’s prior relationship with Josh’s father. So in my opinion, this book is a really good sequel: it has certain themes in common with its predecessor, but it doesn’t tell the same story. I wasn’t a big fan of the traveling magician, who didn’t really add very much to the novel. But overall, I liked this book and would definitely recommend it to fans of Garden Spells!