Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Series: Waverley Family #2
Published: January 20th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
304 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction/magical realism
Acquired this book: From the publisher NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Read my review of Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1)

 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.

Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells is one of my favourite books, so I was excited when I found out First Frost was a continuation of the Waverleys story. While First Frost can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading Garden Spells first. Not only is Garden Spells an incredible book, but it will also help the reader understand more about the Waverleys and how they got where they are.

I loved the Waverley women in Garden Spells, so it was nice catching up with Claire, Sydney, Bay, and Evanelle a decade later. Claire and Sydney have flourished in the last decade. They’re both happily married with successful businesses, and they’ve become a strong unit - the kind of close sisters they weren’t while growing up. Bay has grown into a smart teenager who embraces her Waverley magic, and the fact that she’s different. Each of the characters has something they’re dealing with, something keeping them from true happiness.

Like with Garden Spells, First Frost moved from character to character, giving each Waverley woman the spotlight in turn, and also featuring a few side characters. Even though the book went back and forth between characters, I was surprised that the majority of the story seemed to be about Bay. As women’s fiction, I wasn’t expecting a good chunk of the story to be about a teenage girl. I love young adult fiction, though, so despite my surprise, I enjoyed it, especially since I thought Bay’s part of the story was the most compelling. I enjoyed the overall messages about belonging, acceptance, family, friendship, and love.

While a good book, I didn’t enjoy First Frost as much as I did Garden Spells. I was completely enchanted by Garden Spells, engrossed every second of the story, and bewitched by the magic the Waverleys possessed. Even though returning to Bascom felt like coming home in a way, and even though I still loved these characters, I felt their stories weren’t really enough to warrant a sequel. The main conflict seemed out of place and anticlimactic, and the entire story lacked that engrossing, enchanting feeling that Garden Spells had. Allen’s writing is still lovely, and the story did have moments that captivated my heart and imagination, but it was lacking in many ways. I’d recommend First Frost for fans of Allen’s books, especially those who have read Garden Spells and are curious what happened to the Waverleys. However, if you haven’t read any of Allen’s previous books, I wouldn’t suggest starting with this one. 

3.75 stars
"Was it really that simple? Choosing a life? Maybe you don’t have to be led into the future. Maybe you can pick your own path. Maybe you don’t fall in love. Maybe you jump. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all a choice."
~94% of ARC of First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Have you read First Frost? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of Sarah's other books? What are some of your favourite magical realism books? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. I want to read this one but I'm going to have to reread Garden Spells. I can't remember mucg from it.


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