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Review – Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

garden spells

Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen
290 pages
Published August 28, 2007

In trying to find a nice middle ground between depressing and heavy (their words) and light and fluffy (my words), Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen was picked for my real life book club. Interestingly enough, even though this is the kind of book people prefer (lighter and happier), only 4 of us (including me) showed up for the book club meeting to discuss this book.

Garden Spells is about the Waverly family and the secrets they keep to themselves, magical secrets. For one, the family house that Claire lives in has a tree that grows apples year ’round, though it’s not just any apple tree, it’s a magical apple tree.

Sisters Claire and Sydney, Claire being the responsible one who’s stayed in the family house to take care of things, and Sydney, the flighty one who left town at her first opportunity. Sydney is now back in town (as sisters in books are wont to do) and staying with Claire, and no matter that years have passed, there is still friction between these two.

Let the strangeness begin.

Claire, a caterer, has a knack for knowing what plants will bring out what quality in people. Sydney is basically bitter that she’s received no special gift when every other female in their line has received a gift. Even their older cousin, Evanelle, has a gift: she knows what people will be needing before they need it. Evanelle must deliver these things to others, herself not knowing why they might need what she’s moved to give them.

Can I just whisper in your ear that Evanelle was hands-down the best character in the book?

And while I loved this book, I have to admit that it’s not very deep and the book club discussion was uninspired. I saw a parallel between Garden Spells and my much loved Time of My Life, and was telling the group how I saw similarities in the book, but how TOML was much deeper and more profound than GS.

This is the perfect time to point out that my ratings of books are never meant to be compared to each other. Each rating is a stand-alone rating, in that each book is only compared to itself. If I was to compare Garden Spells with Time of My Life, GS would be rated pretty low, as TOML digs deep where GS just skims the surface. But since books are only compared to themselves, which is to say, are they the best they can be?, each book is rated on its own merits.

With that said, Garden Spells was an absolutely fun read that I’ll be adding to my permanent book collection, and I’ll also be seeking out the author’s other works.

Rating: 90 out of 100

Other reviews:

Educating Petunia

Reading Matters (check out this review just to see the UK cover!)

Books on the Brain

At Home With Books


Bookfoolery and Babble

Medieval Bookworm

(there’s lots more reviews, but you get the idea)

Book source: I bought this book myself.

And one more thing? If you click on one of the Garden Spells links and buy something from Amazon, I’ll make a commission! Mwahahahaha!! Maybe with the pennies I make I’ll be able to call someone who cares.

You can thank the FTC for this disclosure!

| Tags: , , , 27 comments »

27 Responses to “Review – Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen”

  1. Meghan

    I’m glad you liked this one, Trish! All of her books are similar in feel, light and fun and sweet. This one was my favorite but you’ll probably like the others if you like this one.


  2. softdrink

    Yeah, I can’t imagine the book would make for a great book club discussion. Still, I love her books. The second one has magical books in it!


  3. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    I keep reading great reviews for this one. It sounds different than what I usually read, but I’m really intrigued by it, so I may have to give it a try.


  4. Heather

    I haven’t read this one but I did read The Sugar Queen, also by Sarah Addison Allen, and it was a really sweet, fun book. I would be interested in picking up her other books, so thanks for reminding me!


  5. jenniffer hentzen

    i’m so glad you liked this book–sometimes we agree on books and other times we don’t : )

    i love these light magical books… her newest “the girl who chased the moon” is due out next week! it’s good–not as satisfying as “garden spells” or “the sugar queen”, but a fun, fast read!

    **thanks for the review of “the opposite of me”… i can’t wait to start it!



  6. Diane

    Since you enjoyed this book Trish, you will likely enjoy her other 2 as well…..terrific review.


  7. I Heart Monster

    amazing review :o) makes me wanna read it. thank you!!


  8. Lisa

    Once again proving that just because a book is lovely, it’s not necessarily discussion worthy. But it does sound like one to add to the tbr list.


  9. Angie

    Oh, I’m happy you liked this one, Trish. I loved it as well. Then I read THE SUGAR QUEEN and became a complete Addison convert. I think you’ll really like it. Her books are exactly as you say. Light, fluffy, perfectly delicious treats.


  10. Marg

    I love Sarah Addison Allen’s books and can’t wait for the new one to come out, but it really isn’t a book club book. It’s more something to talk about while the champagne is being poured and then moving on to something else. I’ve never read Alison Winn Scotch though, so maybe I will add that book to my list!


  11. Holly

    I love Sarah Addison Allen. I’m on the waiting list at the library for her newest one. I enjoyed Garden Spells, but I think I liked The Sugar Queen even more. And, sometimes light discussions are just as good as deep discussions!


  12. Lesley

    I keep meaning to read one of her books (although The Sugar Queen sounds more appealing to me than Garden Spells) but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    People in my book club SAY they want lighthearted books or why is so much literary fiction depressing, but then when we pick the books lighter in tone (Fannie Flagg’s Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven comes to mind) either no one shows up or there’s just not much to say about them.


  13. jenniffer

    lesley… i get that too in my groups. we must read great literature, and then be depressed afterward–intellectual martyrs : )

    but i thought that “can’t wait to get to heaven” was the most thought provoking book…


  14. Alyce

    Thanks for linking to my review! I agree that Evanelle was absolutely the best character in the book. I would have loved to have read her story. 🙂


  15. Carol

    I still haven’t gotten around to reading this one. Glad to see you enjoyed it.


  16. Melissa

    This looks like a good subway read for me (hard to get into anything too deep when I have to read at 15 min. intervals) AND I want to read Time of my Life! So many books so little time


  17. zibilee

    I have heard good things about this author and her work, and I do admit that your review has really intrigued me a lot more than some others have. I think it sounds like a fun read and very different than what I have been reading lately, so I will be grabbing a copy to try it out for myself. Thanks for the awesome review!


  18. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    Thanks for the link love, Trish! You probably already know I loved this book. I was initially disappointed by the writing style when I opened it, but the story was magical and captured me. I think Allen’s writing matured with her second book and I can’t wait to get my mitts on the new book.


  19. Amy

    I’ve heard some good things about this one. I’ll be adding it to the list.


  20. heidenkind

    I really liked this book, too. Very fun and charming.


  21. Beth F

    I have had this one in audio for a long time … I guess I should move it closer to the top of the list. Sounds like it would be a fun to listen to while doing yardwork.


  22. Misa

    I’ve enjoyed Sarah’s books, a lot. They are happy reads and what I’d like the world to be!

    I hosted Sarah on The Naked Hero (http://thenakedhero) a few days ago, and to have her as the featured author on Books on the House ( ) this week. She’s giving away 3 copies of her books.

    I’ve been a fan since I read The Sugar Queen, then went back to read Garden Spells. I agree, they’re not deep, but they are fun!


  23. Stacy

    I loved this one. One of my favorites this year. It doesn’t have to be deep to be a favorite, but I cann that it wouldn’t be great for a book discussion.


  24. Cam (epiBloguer)

    Ditto on your comments. I also found the book to be only skin deep. I’ve seen a lot of reviews where people thought it was too similar to Practical Magic too… which I have to admit I can see.

    But, I also liked it for what it was, and it was an enjoyable book. I like how you make that distinctions between reviews… it’s a good thing to keep in mind. =)

    If you’re interested, my review is here.


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