Book Highlight: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

book highlight garden spells sarah addison allen

Title: Garden Spells (Waverly Family #1)

Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Publisher: Bantam

Publication Date: August 28, 2007

Genre: Magical Realism

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it. . . .

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.

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own. . . .

Why This Book

Garden Spells isn’t the first garden I’ve ever read (I think that honor goes to a children’s book I haven’t been able to find again about a little girl who wanders from her bedroom, through her garden, and into the woods beyond one night), but it’s the first to have a stranglehold on my heart. I don’t know if it’s because it was my first taste of magical realism and I was thoroughly enchanted, my mom was sent an ARC of this book out of blue and it serves as my introduction to ARCs, or because I fell in love with the garden and want my own. I adore this garden. It’s beautiful and so full of magic, and that apple tree! It just makes me want to sink my own hands into the soil and feel the magic that winds through this garden. Or to taste some of the things Claire makes with what the garden provides. Needless to say, a theme on gardens and orchards could never be complete without Garden Spells on it.


For the Love of Words gave this 4 stars, saying “Garden Spells is so heartwarming and realistic seeing two sisters who had grown apart over the years reintegrate one another into their lives. On top of the wonderful magical flairs, it’s also the perfect read for fans of what I like to call “foodie fiction”.”

Zezee with Books gave this 4.5 stars, saying “For the most part, the story is light and delightful. The characters and their antics make it entertaining and Claire’s ingenious recipes often made my mouth water as I wondered not only what her dishes would taste like but how they would make me feel. She uses flowers from her garden to make them so they not only satiate hunger but also spark and, I guess, manipulate emotions”

All the Books I Can Read gave this 8/10, saying “Addison Allen writes with real humour and sweetness and even if you’re a bit of a skeptic on this sort of stuff, like I am, these novels are so enjoyable as a package that you almost forget that you don’t believe in fruit and vegetables that can make people feel a certain way or see a certain thing”

Jellybeans in the City said “The book’s style and structure bear similarities to other works in women’s literature that feature magical realism. With Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, it shares the plot element of two very different sisters reuniting and finding love in their small town after years apart. Like Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, on the other hand, it features the effects of food on people susceptible to magical ingredients”

Jamesomondi said “One of the strengths of the book is its ability to evoke a range of emotions in the reader. From moments of joy and laughter to heartbreak and sadness, “Garden Spells” will have you on an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. One weakness, however, is that the plot can be predictable at times”

Purchase Links

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Check out all the other books featured this month on The Curated Bookshelf.

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5 thoughts on “Book Highlight: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

    1. Oh, I loved the apple tree! The whole garden just sounds so magical; I’d love to walk in it. I haven’t gotten around to reading the second book, but I hope to get to it one day.


    1. Me, too! I had no idea there was a thing called magical realism until it. Unfortunately, I haven’t read First Frost yet, but did get to read one of the author’s more recent books, so I’m looking forward to reading more of them. I’d forgotten how beautiful and magical her books are.

      Liked by 1 person

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