I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everybody. And let me tell you, there was nothing magical about it.
Maybe that’s part of the reason why I love Sarah Addison Allen’s novels so much. The small-town feel is familiar, but the magic is warm and comforting, while still being strange and…well…magical. Her books are perfect for this time of year too, when it’s cold and you just want to stay inside, curled up in a sweater, and read.
I want to curl up in her books.
And her latest, First Frost, is no exception:
It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.
Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.
Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.
Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.
Yay! The Waverleys are back!
What Intrigued Me: I love love love Allen’s earlier novel, Garden Spells, that introduced the Waverley women and the mysterious apple tree in their garden. Even though I have no magical cooking powers (sigh), I really related to Claire and Sydney, and saw my sister and myself in them. So when I found out she had written a sequel, I got really really really excited.
What Hooked Me: The risk you run with reading a sequel to a novel you love is not liking how the characters change. And the Waverleys have changed a lot since Garden Spells. For one, little Bay is now a teenager (and in love). Claire and Tyler have a daughter (another Waverly!), but Claire has given up her catering business for candy. Sydney is finally grounded in her life, and Henry…well, Henry is still adorable. It’d be very hard to make Henry not-adorable.
What Made Me Fall In Love: I thought I knew Garden Spells and the world of Bascom. And I did, to a point. But Allen did such a great job of opening up the world—even a world as contained as Bascom—so that it didn’t feel like a re-hash of the same magic of the first book. It was grander, wider, richer, and I not only wanted to curl up in it, but to stay there and hibernate all winter.
First Frost is available January 20 from Amazon or your local, possibly magical bookstore. Pick up a copy before they vanish!