Garden Spells

By Sarah Addison Allen

“Business was doing well, because all the locals knew that dishes made from the flowers that grew around the apple tree in the Waverley garden could affect the eater in curious ways. The biscuits with lilac jelly, the lavender tea cookies, and the tea cakes made with nasturtium mayonnaise… The fried dandelion buds over marigold-petal rice, stuffed pumpkin blossoms, and rose-hip soup …Anise hyssop honey butter on toast, angelica candy, and cupcakes with crystallized pansies… dip made from hyacinth bulbs… the salads made with chicory and mint.

At the 60% mark, I decided I was done. I quickly skipped through to the end. I’m just a nacho and pizza type of gal at heart.

I guess magical realism just isn’t for me. Neither is self-consciously lush simile-laden prose. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I wasn’t that interested in the characters and there really wasn’t much of a plot. The concept was intriguing, but in the end, it was all about the magic, and it just wasn’t enough for me. Too much form and too little substance, maybe? The one aspect I was kind of anticipating and why I wanted to skip through and not just quit was a big dramatic showdown between the two Clark women, Sydney, and Hunter, and some conflict resolution. But after all the buildup and time spent on that aspect, it just didn’t materialize. After Emma had a breakthrough did the right thing it was by an answering machine message that was not even listened to. So that just spluttered to an end. Like the dreaded arrival of Sydney’s abusive ex.
Gorgeous cover though.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

January 21, 2022

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