Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Magical Realism/Contemporary Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: Jan 20th, 2015
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Waverly Family series
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 5/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through the NetGalley. I read Garden Spells back a couple years ago and absolutely adored it. I was so excited when I heard that Allen was writing another book about the Waverly family. This ended up being a spectacular book. I would recommend reading Garden Spells first because it really helps to have all the background on all these characters. I don’t think the book will have as much impact if you don’t have that background.
This story focuses on three women in the Waverly family and is set many years after (I think it was 10 years after) the events in Garden Spells. Claire Waverly has started a new venture that uses the garden magic she is known for, she is running Waverly’s Candies now. However things are starting to spin out of control and Waverly’s Candies is so successful it is completely taking over her life. Sydney has settled into a happy marriage with Henry and has put her first abusive marriage behind her. Still Sydney is struggling with the fact that she wishes she could have another baby, a baby for her and Henry to call their own and it’s just not happening.
The character we hear the most from though is Bay, Sydney’s daughter. Bay’s magical ability is to know where things belong. This ability backfires when she meets a boy at school, Josh Matteson, and knows that they belong together in some way. Unfortunately the Matteson and the Waverly families have history and it’s not good history. In addition to all the above a strange man drifts in that is tied to Claire and Sydney’s mother’s past and he end up causing even more chaos.
This book (along with Garden Spells) is often classified as “women’s fiction”. I guess it kind of is, but is also a beautifully written story with lots of magical realism and some mystery. This story does feature the trials of women in their mid 30’s as they struggle with balancing jobs, husbands, kids…and magic. However this book has a bit more of a young adult flavor to it as well because Bay features in the story so much. Bay is dealing with some very normal (and also some not so normal) growing pains, she is 15 years old and still learning who she is.
I really love the beautiful writing style throughout the novel. There is excellent imagery here and it really makes the scenes come alive; you can almost smell the candies and taste the autumn in the air. I also love the interactions between these families. There is a lot of conflict here but it is resolved by the characters being supportive and understanding of each other. I love the fact that each of these women has one very specific magical ability that influences her life in a crazy way.
While this book does have a more YA tone to it at times, I think a lot of the issues dealt with are ones that grown women will relate to a bit more. Sydney is struggling to raise a girl that is nothing like her and is upset that she isn’t able to get pregnant. Claire is excited about the success of her business but concerned by how much time she has to take away from her family to run it. There are other characters that flit in and out of their lives. A character that is close to dying, a character that is trying to recover after betrayal from his partner of many years, a teenage dropout with a baby that is struggling to get her life together, and an old con artist that is sick of conning people but not sure how else to live. I really enjoy how all these life stories weave in and out of the Waverly’s lives.
Overall this was another fantastic book by Allen. If you loved Garden Spells I think you will really enjoy this book. I would recommend both books to people who enjoy a beautifully written story about women struggling to make it through day to day life…but with the added twist that there is magic in their lives that provides unexpected and crazy influences. This was an excellent read and very hard to put down.