With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of East End, Ellen Herrick’s debut novel spins an enchanting love story about a place where magic whispers just beneath the surface and almost anything is possible, if you aren’t afraid to listen
The Sparrow sisters are as tightly woven into the seaside New England town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk.
Patience is the town healer and when a new doctor settles into Granite Point he brings with him a mystery so compelling that Patience is drawn to love him, even as she struggles to mend him. But when Patience Sparrow’s herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, Granite Point is consumed by a long-buried fear—and its three hundred year old history resurfaces as a modern day witch-hunt threatens. The plants and flowers, fruit trees and high hedges begin to wither and die, and the entire town begins to fail; fishermen return to the harbor empty-handed, and blight descends on the old elms that line the lanes.
It seems as if Patience and her town are lost until the women of Granite Point band together to save the Sparrow. As they gather, drawing strength from each other, will they be able to turn the tide and return life to Granite Point?
The Sparrow Sisters is a beautiful, haunting, and thoroughly mesmerizing novel that will capture your imagination.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Two stars: A book that starts out strong, but loses the magic and whimsy with a sad turn.
The Sparrow Sisters come from a long line of Sparrow women who have made their home in Granite Point. The Sparrow family has always been known for the eccentricities and healing abilities. Patience, Sorrel and Nettie are mysterious and magical. Patience seems to be able to talk to the plants, and she knows how each and every plant can be used for healing. The sisters run a large nursery, bursting with plants and flowers. Yet, none of the sisters has found love. That all changes when a young doctor moves to town, and becomes enamored with Patience. Just when things are going well for Patience, tragedy strikes. The town is turning against her, and strange things are happening with the weather and the plants. Will Patience be able to clear her name?
What I Liked:
- I always love a book that features a touch of magical realism, so I was eager to dive into the Sparrow Sisters. Even though I was disappointed in the overall story, I did enjoy the magical parts. This book focuses on Patience's ability to work wonders with the plants that she grows. The Sparrow Sisters' Nursery is always exploding with blossoms, fruits and plants, no matter the season. Patience is known for her healing abilities, and the women in the town have long sought her help for all kinds of ailments, and Patience delivers with her herbal tinctures. I loved the luscious nursery and the sense of magic and mystery that surrounded the Sparrow Sisters.
- The books takes a sad turn, and Patience finds herself at the center of a modern day witch hunt. The town immediately begins to falter as the weather turns wild, and the plants begin to wilt and die. The town's fortune seems to be tied to Patience. I liked how it played and out, and that Patience received help from an unexpected source. Even though, I didn't like the tone of the story in the second half, I was pleased with the way it resolved.
- I liked the small town setting. Granite Point is a tight knit, cozy community where the townsfolk all know one another and they reach and help when in need.
And The Not So Much:
- The first portion of the book focuses on the sisters and their nursery and then on Patience's new found romance. Unfortunately, the romance between Patience and Henry lacked chemistry. Henry is inexplicably drawn to Patience from the get go, but their first couple of meetings are full of animosity. Then it moved into this strange lust stage, and it never evolved beyond that. I never felt like the two established a friendship or connection, and their relationship lacked trust. I didn't like that the two were always at odds over the way they healed. Patience didn't believe in modern medicine, and Henry didn't put any stock into Patience's herbal treatments. They never do seem to find common ground on this issue. All in all, the romance was a complete miss for me.
- As I mentioned, the first part of the book is dreamy and magical, and then it takes a dark turn when someone close to Patience suddenly dies under mysterious circumstances, and Patience finds herself accused. The story loses its magic at this point, and I found myself completely disengaging. I didn't like the second portion of the story.
- Sorrel and Nettie, the other two Sparrow Sisters haven't been lucky in love, either. Sorrel pines after her childhood friend, who is now married to someone else, and Nettie longs for a man, but is too afraid to let him know how she feels. I was disappointed that neither of these story lines was well developed. At the end, the book ends with the promise of Sorrel's story, so there are going to be more books.
The Sparrow Sisters was a book I was excited to read as I loved magical realism. While this book has a nice dose of magic, I was disappointed in the weak romance and the dark turn in the second half. The second half of the story was boring and it lacked the magic that I enjoyed in the first half. I would recommend this book hesitantly to those who like magical realism, but I would suggest borrowing it. At this point, I do not think I will continue the series.
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.