From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves...
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.Hardcover, 304 pages
Bay dashes down the street, eager to reach her Aunt Claire's house to start candy making. At sixteen, Bay is enduring all the growing pains of any normal teenage girl, but she is far from normal. Bay is a Waverley, and that means she was born with a magical gift. For Bay, her talent is knowing where everything belongs, and Bay knows she is meant to be with Josh Masterson, even though he doesn't acknowledge her existence. Meanwhile, a stranger has come to Bascom, with bad intentions. Will Bay finally find a place where she belongs? Will the stranger cause turmoil for the Waverleys?
What I Liked:
- Diving into this book was like coming home. I love Ms. Allen's lovely, magical writing, and I adore the quirky Waverley Women. I was immediately enchanted once again with the Waverleys and their magical tree and mysterious gifts. If you enjoy magical realism books, I highly recommend reading Garden Spells and First Frost.
- I loved catching up with Claire, Sydney, Bay, Henry, Tyler, Evanelle and Fred. It has been ten years since the events of Garden Spells, and there have been many changes for the characters. I have grown very attached to all these characters, and it was nice to see how they have fared ten years down the road. I especially liked seeing how much Bay has changed. Ms. Allen writes the most interesting and engaging characters.
- I enjoyed all the touches of magic. Each Waverley woman has her own unique gift, and it is always fun to see their talents in action. There is just enough magic to be believable. It isn't over the top, and it adds just a special pinch of something magical to the book.
- The writing is absolutely lovely. I can't begin to describe it properly, but it is the type of writing that engages all of your senses. Ms. Allen incorporates rich descriptions that tickle your senses. If you are a connoisseur of gorgeous writing, you must read a book written by Ms. Allen.
- The ending is for the most part satisfying, and I appreciated that both Claire and Sydney found resolutions to their problems, and that Bay seemed set on the right path, however it felt a bit unfinished, like there is more story to tell, and I am hoping that means there will be another Waverly book down the road.
And The Not So Much:
- A big portion of the story is focused on this mysterious stranger who arrives in town with ill intent. He is an aging con man who has found a mark in Bascom. I could have cared less about this man, and I hated his portion of the book. It was jarring and disruptive and it took away from the coziness of the story. I also thought the resolution of his story line was anti climatic. In all honesty, his part should be down away with . I didn't like it because it took away from the focus on the Waverleys.
- I was disappointed that Tyler's and Henry's parts in the story were not impactful. They just flitted in and out without doing anything.
- Claire was my favorite character in the first book, I loved reading about her magical, flower infused cooking. This time around, I had a hard time connecting with her because she has gone into the candy making business and quit cooking. She is doubting her gifts, and thus she is unhappy. I missed the old Claire.
- There is a story line regarding Sydney trying to help a teenage mom. I wasn't a big fan of this part of the story either. I didn't like the teenager, and it was predictable as to how it would all pan out.
- Bay's story was the most interesting, and I loved following her as she found her way. Unfortunately, just as her story is reaching a satisfying conclusion, it cuts off rather abruptly. The book ended in a strange place, and I thought it needed a bit more something at the end.
- This is a minor complaint, which I hope will be corrected in the final copy, there is a recipe for the Waverley Fig and Pepper Bread at the end, which appears to be incomplete. In the digital ARC there is no mention of either fig or pepper in the ingredient list. How can you make fig and pepper bread without them?
First Frost was a lovely read, and I enjoyed catching up with old friends. While I for the most part, enjoyed the story, and I loved the writing, I don't think it quite lived up to the magic of Garden Spells. Still overall, it was a delightful read, and I am still a big fan of Ms. Allen. I am hopeful that there will be another book in this fantastic series.
"You're only as weird as you want to be."
"She wished she had known back then. Known that happiness isn't a point in time you leave behind. It's what's ahead of you. Every single day."
"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 don't fall in love. Maybe you jump. Maybe, just maybe, it's all a choice."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.