March 28, 2010

Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

We are supposed to be at the beginning of autumn in Australia at the moment but we have been experiencing some gorgeous summer weather instead so I took the opportunity to take my first book for the Once Upon A Time Challenge, Garden Spells, out into our garden this weekend.

Garden Spells in set in a small US town, Bascom, North Carolina where the community is clearly divided into types of families. The Waverley family is known as the "strange" family of the town - they have a weird apple tree in their back garden that produces fruit that when eaten brings on visions, they use the flowers in their garden to create food that enables spells to be performed on the individual who eats it and they have a "crazy" cousin who is compelled to give strange gifts to people in the town.

The two adult Waverley sisters, Claire and Sydney couldn't be more different on the surface. Claire has stayed on in Bascom to create a thriving business - haunted by an early unstable childhood before her sister was born and Sydney has recently returned to Bascom with her young daughter in an attempt to escape a violent relationship. The book focuses on the sister's attempts to heal their damaged relationship as well as the creation of other relationships in their lives.

I really felt that this book was not much more than a "sweet" story. I found the stereotypical descriptions of the different families and individual characters frustrating and predictable. Surprisingly enough it was actually the "fantasy" or magical elements of the story that I was able to get board with easily - it was a shame the human elements didn't uphold their part of the story. I'm not put off by the genre as a whole though - I'm keen to read more - I just need to look in a slightly different direction I think.


Elise said...

Hi Karen,

All I could think of when reading your review was of Practical Magic, the movie with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Were they at all similar (if, obviously, you've seen the movie!)? It's a shame it wasn't a blow you away book though.


Hannah Stoneham said...

Sounds wonderful - and I like the photograph - makes me dream of warmer weather (here in France it is supposed to be becoming Spring but has been raining steadily for some time!)

Thanks for posting


Cath said...

This is on my shelf--I think I might save it now, for a time when I need something slight and insubstantial, you know?

Thanks for the honest review!

Tamara said...

I love the sound of a garden spell - if that means spending some time in the garden. I agree with Elise, it did remind me of that movie. I hope your next 'once upon a time' is more to your liking though.

Karen said...

Hi Elise - I haven't actually seen that movie (I have an intense dislike of Nicole Kidman and find it VERY hard to watch any movie with her in it!!).

Hi Hannah - I have heard that the weather in France has been a bit gloomy lately - I hope spring starts to shine for you soon!

Hi Connie - I think that sounds like the perfect reading mood for this one!

Hi T - are you typing this comment on your new computer?? I'm looking forward to my next read for this challenge - hoping it will be better!

Jodie said...

Oh that's a shame, but I have always wondered why Garden Spells wasn't her break through book as it came before The Sugar Queen. I think you'd really like the magic in TSQ as well, magic books and ok, not magic sandwiches but very nice sounding ones.

Iliana said...

What a great way to spend the day. I liked the book ok but wasn't wowed by it as I had hoped to be. I know a lot of people liked it too but I guess I've read other books with magical elements that I thought were better.

Tribute Books said...

Thanks for the review, will have to think about trying this one.

Karen said...

Hi Jodie - you make TSQ sound vyer interesting - I might have to give her another go...

Hi Iliana - that is a really good way to put it - definitely not a "wow" kind of book for me either.

Hi Tribute Books - I hope you enjoy it if you do check it out.

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