Book Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Published: Published January 20th 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Format: Paper Book
Length: 291 pages
Genre: Magical Realism, Contemporary Fiction, Witchy Business, Chick Lit
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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.
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of the Waverley 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.
In some type of reader serendipity, we come to my second favorite author. If Neil Gaiman was magical nonsense, then Sarah Addison Allen is magical realism. In First Frost we return once again to the old Queen Anne style house on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina with its fruit tossing apple tree and clan of magical Waverley girls from Garden Spells. It’s been a decade since the end of the first book and the Waverley family is waiting anxiously for the first frost of the year, when the mysterious apple tree in their garden will finally bloom. It’s also a time of change and upset as the family endures the troubles and woes that always visit them while the apple tree is bare.
I’m going to be blunt; First Frost was not as good as Garden Spells. But, then, second books are rarely as good as first books. Most of First Frost had a rambling quality that had me waiting for something to actually happen. There is very little plot, hardly any conflict, and no climax. The whole story is flimsy. The majority of First Frost is focused on Bay’s teen angst over a boy. The ‘mysterious stranger’ that shows up to challenge the ‘very heart of their family’ in the cover blurb doesn’t interact with any of the Waverley ladies in a meaningful way until page 200 and by then we’ve already had several chapters from his point of view and already know the man is a charlatan and a con artist. So the tension of whether his information is true or not is kind of lost before the Waverley family even hears of it. Then there is Sydney’s preoccupation with having another kid, a situation that is handled in such a way as to make me cringe a little.
Allen’s books have always been more character driven than plot driven but this is probably the slowest book I’ve read from her. There was no depth to the plot or characters and the resolution of what should have been the main plot point was rushed and too simple. If I wasn’t such a diehard fan of her writing, I probably would have rated this book a little lower. Allen’s books are charming and elegant and her weaving of magical elements through everyday life is a writing style I’ve never seen elsewhere. I enjoyed seeing the Waverley girls again and while First Frost has the same whimsical, delightful quality that I love in Sarah Addison Allen’s books, the actually story wasn’t very entertaining.
Posted on April 27, 2015, in book review, books, contemporary fiction, fiction and tagged a little magical, book review, books, First Frost, magical realism, Sarah Addison Allen, Waverley. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.