Garden Spells was written by Sarah Addison Allen and was published in 2007. I am a sucker for enchanted gardens…
Garden Spells tells the story of sisters Claire and Sydney Waverly. Claire and Sydney grew up in the town of Bascom, North Carolina where the Waverly family has a reputation for peculiarity. All of the Waverly women are rumored to be touched by a certain magic and their garden is home to an apple tree with a mind of its own. Local legend says that if you eat an apple from the Waverly garden you will see the most important moment of your life, good or bad.
The book opens with Sydney returning to Bascom, and to Claire, with her own daughter, after being gone ten years. Sydney, like their mother, hated Bascom and had a wild streak. All she ever wanted was to get out of town and away from the Waverly legacy. But Sydney’s missing ten years haven’t been easy and she is running from demons that could destroy not just her own life but her daughter’s as well.
While Claire never ate a Waverly apple, she already knows the most important moment of her life, it was when she arrived in Bascom at six years old. After spending years out on the road with her mother, Claire knows that she is finally safe and finally home. Sydney was born in Bascom and Claire harbors a jealousy of that throughout their childhood and adolescence. Claire feels that Sydney is somehow more Waverly than she is, that she belongs in a way that Claire does not; Sydney’s youthful rebellion against being a Waverly, and all of the rumor and myth that goes with it, is all the more hurtful. And Sydney’s sudden reappearance is a shock for Claire. Claire has lived a steady, perfect life in Bascom. She runs a successful catering company, as Claire’s specific Waverly gift is as an enchanter of food. With different herbs from her garden, Claire weaves spells over dinner parties; she can calm guests, inspire passions among them or make them forget their differences. Claire is the town’s good witch and her gift has helped her to keep people at arm’s length. That is, until Tyler Hughes moves in next door. Tyler is enchanted by Claire but not because she is a Waverly. He is new in town and has no idea of the Waverly’s gifts, he is attracted to Claire simply for who she is. As Tyler slowly and assuredly breaks down Claire’s walls, she is also able to open herself up to Sydney.
As the sisters live and work together, they slowly mend their relationship. Neither had realized how much they needed each other but Claire centers Sydney, while Sydney gives Claire the courage to live unafraid. But as Claire and Sydney’s lives are coming back together, Sydney’s past comes back to haunt them. Is the Waverly bond, and magic, enough to save them?
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! Its a pretty quick, easy read but there are some surprisingly heavy elements to it. I was really happy with Claire and Sydney’s relationship, it felt very real and like a true sisterhood. After all, we all know our sisters can annoy the crap out of us but we still love them. The magical elements to the novel are, I think, really well done and easy to believe in. There are also a few passionate but sweetly gentle romantic elements that were just lovely. This is a great story of sisterhood, friendship, learning to change, danger and love that is coupled with really fun and slightly eccentric characters. If you’re looking for a nice summer read, go ahead and pick up Garden Spells, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.