First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First Frost is book #2 in the magical fantasy, Waverley Sisters of Bascom novels. Set once again in North Carolina, this book takes place ten years later than book #1, Garden Spells. (read my review of book #1 here)
Claire Waverley’s catering business has now changed and she makes candy, which is believed to have magical properties. Demand has grown so much that she can no longer use her own garden flowers and she unhappily supplements them with commercially bought flavours and essences.
Claire’s sister, Sydney, now owns the hair salon in town and uses her own magical Waverley gift to create hairstyles that leave her customers feeling special. Her daughter, Bay, is now fifteen; she sets things in order and has a great eye for knowing where everything belongs. However, she’s currently suffering from the teenage anxiety of first love.
A stranger comes to town; Russel Zahler, once the Great Banditi, is a down-on-his-luck magician and con artist. He begins to send unsettling ripples through the community. Before the first frost of the autumn, Waverley women become jittery, and this year it’s at its worst, no one can settle. What does the stranger want?
I enjoyed this book as much as the first and fans of Garden Spells should enjoy this sequel, with the magic apple tree and the mysterious skills of the Waverley clan. I’m glad Evanelle, the eighty nine year old relative, was still around with her own gift; she brings a lovely touch of eccentricity to the tale.
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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.
Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.
About the author
New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.
Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature — because, as she puts it, “I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate.”
After graduation, Allen began writing seriously. Her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen’s accomplished debut “spellbindingly charming.” The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and then a New York Times Bestseller.
Allen continues to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as “Southern-fried magic realism.” Clearly, it’s a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.
Her published books to date are: Garden Spells (2007), The Sugar Queen (2008), The Girl Who Chased the Moon (2010), The Peach Keeper (2011) and Lost Lake (2014) and First Frost (2015).
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