Like many, I was attracted to this book by its beautiful cover. It is magical and quite lovely. I was also intrigued by reading many reviews. Unfortunately I think I will be in the minority when I say that I really didn't love it. I thought it was just alright. Many people have compared Allen to Alice Hoffman. The plot of this story really does cleave a little too closely to that of Practical Magic for my taste; it leaves me feeling as if I'm reading a pale shadow of Hoffman's rich story. I've read all of Alice Hoffman's work, and I think her particular brand of storytelling has an originality and a darkness to it despite its label of 'magical realism' (which often seems to be interpreted as 'dreamy and fey'). This novel, in comparison, seems shallower, with more of a bubbly chick-lit feel to it. Each Waverly woman has a special gift, but really, hairdressing as a special magical talent?
Did you like Garden Spells? What was your favorite part and/or character?
Despite what I've just written, I didn't think it was awful! I read it all in one night, so there was something in it that kept me fascinated. There were some characters with depth, particularly elderly Cousin Evanelle, and young Bay Waverly. There were some clever elements, like the Waverly apple tree with its magical powers. The image that Bay kept dreaming of, that of the tree sparkling and rustling in the breeze, was brought into reality with great visual acuity. However, I did not really like either sister, Claire or Sydney, nor the men they were interested in, nor the twee town they lived in. So it is hard for me to give this a thumbs up. There was certainly potential, but I'd like to see her get out of the shadow of Alice Hoffman and give free rein to her own voice.
Overall, this story of two dissimilar sisters, each with their own strengths (Claire with the ability to cook and cater with quite unexpected results for those partaking, Sydney for...doing hair) falls into predictability. I'm not sure I really believed the romantic elements, or the ease of the sisterly reconciliation. However, it was another light summer read, and as such, not bad.
Were you totally enchanted by Garden Spells? I was, but have since read a few reviews from people who thought it was so-so. If you loved it, are you planning to read her new book, The Sugar Queen?
I guess I fall into the so-so camp. However, I may just read The Sugar Queen, hoping that she has become a more assured writer. The idea of the book sounds like it could be either really good or really bad. I might have to find out which! And, once again the cover is gorgeous.