Friday, April 05, 2013

Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (audio)

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Read by Susan Ericksen
Brilliance Audio
Length: 8 hours
Source: Library

From the back of the audio case: 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.

My thoughts:  I have really come to enjoy Sarah Addison Allen's books. They are fun, magical books that offer the perfect escape when life gets too heavy!

Garden Spells is a captivating, charming tale that kept me hooked from the opening line. It is filled with unique, well-developed characters. The Waverley women all have their own unique gift that has caused them to be seen as outsiders in their small town of Bascom, NC. Either through food, hairstyling, knowing where things go or giving gifts that will be needed in the future, they are all important gifts, but to the characters, sometimes a curse. In the end, though, they all figure out how to deal with their gifts and how to come together as a family. And then there's the apple tree in the backyard that begs to be it's own character in the story by showing people their future.

In order for the two sisters, Claire and Sydney to live their lives to the fullest, they must confront their past, specifically ways to cope with a mother who was wild and abandoned them when they were young. Clare creates a very careful, cautious life for herself. Sydney, the younger sister, lives wildly trying to copy a mother she never knew. For a long time they have no contact until circumstances force them together. In the setting of a magical garden, the sisters need to confront their past in order to move forward.

I've now read/listened to all of Sarah Addison Allen's books and am desperate for more! I did see on her website that she does have a new book coming out sometime this year and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for that book, called Lost Lake.

Audio thoughts: Due to a long drive from New York to North Carolina, I was able to listen to this story in one day...something that rarely happens for me. I loved the narrator's voice and felt that she was able to give each character their own unique voice. She was able to bring in the magical elements through her voices and it came together for a delightful listening experience.

*** Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes every Friday - a meme to share the audio books that everyone is listening to. Stop by and you just might find your next audio book!



  1. This was the first SAA book I read. I was a fan from then on. How about that apple tree? ;-) Glad to hear she has a new book coming soon!

  2. I'll have to look for books by this narrator.

  3. I loved Garden Spells. I also have The Sugar Queen sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I have a feeling she will be a new fave for me. :) I really enjoyed your review.

  4. Very nice review! I haven't listened to many audio books but this one sounds really good.

  5. I love SAA's books. I have yet to listen to one on audio though.

  6. I love Sarah Addison Allen. And, I'll bet her books would be fantastic on audio. I'm excited to know she had a new book coming out.


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