Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a quick read, and a little more [ahem] *adult* than I generally prefer. The story is predictable, but engrossing. The writing is occasionally really really good, and occasionally heavy handed and obviously trying too hard. It is a first novel, so I can excuse some of that.
Allen explores themes of constancy and aimlessness, permanence and impermanence, control and lack of control, fear and love. Sadly, she hits you over the head to make sure you notice what she's trying to say: there was an awful lot of familial determinism -- this family is always such and so; and characters even come out and say things like, "She likes things that don't go away. So don't go away." The build-up to the climax was the best done and longest portion of the book, the climax and denouement were short and somewhat disappointing, like she ran out of story to tell.
I can imagine reading some more of Allen's work, but in small doses.
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A brief note for my blog readers, one of those familial determinisms is that the main characters are magical. If that bothers your conscience, this is definitely a book to avoid.