Monday, March 7, 2011

A Little Small Town Magic

It's Mythological Monday here at the Speculative Window, and today I have a good book review for you. This morning I finished reading an enjoyable novel called Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen that incorporates a really fun modern myth within its plot.

Garden Spells isn't exactly a brand new book; it came out in 2007, but I'd heard about it only recently and also saw it on the shelves of Barnes and Noble a time or two. One of my writer buddies ended up loaning it to me, and I'm glad she did.

What's cool about this tale of magical realism is the tree. In a small town in North Carolina resides this great big, old apple tree. But it's not just any apple tree. If you eat the apples from this particular tree, you get to see the most important event of your life. For some, the vision is good. For others, not so much; for instance, they get to see their untimely death.

Claire Waverly is currently the owner of the tree, and the garden in which it resides. A bit magical herself, she has taken on the family tradition of cooking with the herbs and blossoms that grow in her garden. Everyone in town is familiar with her dishes and drinks and what sort of spell they put on the consumer. For instance, she always makes a 4th of July wine for the town party, and the wine enables people to see in the dark.

Customers of Claire's culinary talents sometimes pay her to create meals for a specific purpose. Someone might want her husband to get in a better mood, so Claire would cook something for him using, say, chicory, which creates a sense of wellbeing and conceals bitterness.

It's all really fun. Author Sarah Addison Allen creates very likable characters and blends in the magic with the realistic in quite a perfect way.

But the story does have its dark moments, also, to keep the pages turning. Take for instance when Claire's free-spirit sister returns home, having run away from an abusive husband. And--well, I won't tell you too much. I don't want to spoil the story.

Amazon has the book for pretty darn cheap right now if you're interested:

I'd like to read more books in the magical realism genre, so if anyone has any recommendations, do let me know.

Have a good Monday, everyone. :)

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