Title: In the Shadow Garden
Author: Liz Parker
Publication Date: September 13, 2022
Genre: Magical Realism, Mystery, Romance
There’s something magical about Yarrow, Kentucky. The three empathic witches of the Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes imbued with the flavors of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear. But the Haywoods will never forget the Bonners’ bitter betrayal.
Twenty years ago, the town gave up more than one memory; they forgot an entire summer. One person died. One person disappeared. And no one has any recollection of either.
As events from that fateful summer start to come to light, there must be a reckoning between the rival Haywood and Bonner families. But untangling the deep roots of this town’s terrible secrets will expose more than they could ever imagine about love, treachery, and the true nature of their power.
Why This Book
In the Shadow Garden combines magical realism, mystery, and romance to deliver a story about a small town in Kentucky where, after enjoying some magically spiked bourbon, every inhabitant forgets an entire summer. Years later it’s up to the children of the adults who made that choice to figure out what happened. At the heart of this story is a magical garden called the shadow garden. Owned by the Haywoods, the fruit have special properties and the soil draws out the pain given to it from the Haywoods, who take it from those willing to give it, to enrich the soil and keep the magic of the garden alive. At times the garden felt magical and, at others, it felt a little sinister. I wasn’t a huge fan of the story, but I really liked the garden. It tried hard to take on a life of its own, and I loved just how wonderfully magical it felt, even if it did feel a bit like a generic magic garden.
My review: “Their garden is darkly magical and utterly fascinating, though it did fall into being little more than a generic magic garden. It offers its bounty to whomever it wishes and imparts some magic to those who eat from it, but was most fascinating in terms of what makes it grow, which is closely tied to the unique magic of the Haywoods”
Kara.Reviews gave this 2 stars, saying “The mystery/thriller aspects of the novel are underdeveloped. Most of the plot is predictable, the villains obvious and their motives uncomplicated. Even the secret of Addison’s parentage is obvious from pretty much the first time her hair colour gets mentioned. There’s a single red herring that is only half-heartedly dangled in front of our faces before it is hastily resolved to make way for the romance, which is tepid”
Good Books & Good Wine gave this 5 stars, saying “I think that if you vibe with Sarah Addison Allen’s work, you will LOVE this book. The characters were all people that I loved except for one character and that was with good reason. I loved the plant based magic and really am realizing that is a fantasy trope that I favor”
Purposely Unperfect gave this 5 stars, saying “Liz Parker tells the story of pain and suffering in one of the most elegant ways. The magical realism of the shadow garden taking away pain and growing it into something beautiful was an excellent theme throughout the story. In life, sometimes we are handed cards that aren’t always the best, but it is how we play them and create beauty from them that matters. Liz told this theme with a side of mystery and romance in what I will be calling my favorite read of the year. Not only is the story unputdownable and beautifully written, but it shows growth in healing through gardening, which is real-life magic and makes me truly believe that it might exist”
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