The Sugar Queen is a magical fantasy set in Bald Slope, North Carolina. Josey Cirrinis is the twenty-seven year old daughter of the late Marco Cirrinis who put Bald Slope on the tourist map with his ski resort. Josey’s mother despises and continually puts her down, clipping Josey’s desire to leave the town and travel. Years of this treatment have turned Josey into a secret comfort eater who hordes sweet treats.
With the arrival of autumn, Josey is relieved because the colder weather means she can wear her lucky red jumper again. But today she awoke to find local waitress, Della Lee Baker, had taken up residence in her closet. They strike up an amicable friendship. Apart from her crush on the mail-man, Josey’s adult life has, so far, been boring and predictable.
The arrival of Della Lee changes all this, and Josey discovers a life outside her home; with Della’s encouragement, she breaks the bonds that tie her down.
This is a gentle slow burn romance with a magical twist or two. There’s a character who has the power to attract books. I loved the quirky idea of books appearing just when you need them; as a bookworm, for me, that seems like a dream come true. I also liked Della Lee, obviously someone for whom life had dealt a difficult hand, but she played her cards well in the end. She was both fun and sad; I liked how she teased the Cirrinis’ house-maid, but showed fierce loyalty to Josey.
Recommended for an enjoyable few hours of magical escapism.
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Josey lives an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her only consolation the sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to in her hidden closet. But one day she finds it harbouring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis and two parts fairy godmother.
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).