Review: Garden Spells (Waverly Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells

Synopsis from Good Reads:

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 who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business — and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life — upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire’s routine existence upside down. With Sydney’s homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire’s own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney’s child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.

I got an e-mail telling me I won my first ever giveaway from Good Reads for the second book in this series, First Frost, so I thought I’d read the first book before it got here. I had never heard of the Waverly Family series before and based on the synopsis I wasn’t really expecting much. I’m happy to report that Garden Spells very pleasantly surprised me!

The town of Bascom is full of magical superstitions. The Waverly family owns an apple tree that has a mind of it’s own and if you eat one of it’s apples, it will show you the most important moment of your life, whether it’s good or bad. Claire Waverly uses edible flowers from her garden that can influence the eater’s emotions in a specific way. Sydney Waverly gives haircuts that can change lives. Her daughter Bay knows the perfect place for everything. Their cousin Evanelle gives random gifts to random people that they will need, without ever knowing why. The Hopkins men always marry older women. The Clark women are exceptionally good in bed. While this all sounds  a little silly, it worked.

This is my first book by Allen and I really liked her writing style. Her description was very beautifully done and she has a perfect mix of heart and humor. This is definitely a character driven novel and it was very well done. All of the characters, even the minor ones, were very well developed. Often times I don’t like when the focus shifts off the main characters, but I still really enjoyed all the passages with Emma Clark and her family, Henry and his grandfather, and Evanelle and Fred.

I really liked Claire Waverly and her relationship with new next door neighbor, Tyler. I felt like both her character and the relationship really grew throughout the story in a natural, relatable way.

Overall, I really enjoyed Garden Spells. It was a fast, easy read with well written, likable characters and multiple, interwoven sweet storylines. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next in First Frost.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 4
Characters: 4
Readability: 4
Enjoyability: 4
Overall Rating: 4 Stars

10 thoughts on “Review: Garden Spells (Waverly Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen

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