This week brought a new book by my favorite author, Sarah Addison Allen. I’ve been waiting for this book for a year when she first mentioned working on it at a reading for Lost Lake (well, to be honest, since I read Garden Spells and fell in love with the Waverleys), and everything got put on hold so I could devour it. I also got to read an ARC for an upcoming debut for one of my Twitter friends.
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.
First Frost is utterly delicious. And charming. And absolute perfection. Taking me back to characters I first fell in love with in Garden Spells, this story weaves together the heartaches and hopes, deepest fears and desires for the Waverley sisters and daughters, revealing new facets of these ladies while still holding true to who the characters are deep down in their cores. They’ve changed, grown up, grown more loveable. And their flaws and insecurities provide both plot and emotional undercurrent that will tug at your heart in all the best ways. And the way Sarah Addison Allen writes teenagers makes me crave a full-on YA from her (*fingers crossed for one day*). Bay was my absolute favorite part of this story and I’m so glad she got her own story as a Waverley.
Alice in Wonderland High (no cover available)
Sixteen-year-old Alice suppresses her need for rebellion after a petition to start a farmer’s market receives more snickers than signatures. That is until Whitney Lapin, a girl who speaks in cryptic riddles and spends her free time turning abandoned warehouses into beautiful gardens, leads her on a rabbit trail into the underground–aka secret society–of Wonderland High. Curiouser and curiouser.
Even though Whitney’s group of teenage environmental vigilantes operates on the wrong side of the law, Alice has never felt more free to be herself. Soon she stomps on her good girl image by completing a series of environmental pranks to impress them: flooding the school and disguising a pig as a baby in order to smuggle it out of a testing facility. But the group refuses to help with the farmer’s market or reveal their hidden agenda. She wants to trust them, and she especially wants to trust (or maybe kiss) Chester Katz, a boy with a killer smile, a penchant for disappearing, and a secret that will really turn Alice‘s world backwards. When one group member tries to frame Alice for all the pranks, she must figure out their secret before she ends up in front of a jury that’s screaming, “Off with her head!”
Alice In Wonderland High is a fun, trippy contemporary retelling with numerous nods to the original story. With quirky characters who talk in riddles, intriguing mysteries, and crazy eco-missions involving covering houses with plants and freeing animals from a lab, there’s never a dull moment. The dialogue is a little confusing at times (though a lot of that is done on purpose, I think), and the insta-love between Alice and Chess could’ve been more of a slow burn to really make me get behind the relationship. But overall, a seriously unique take on a classic.
*I received an ARC from Merit Press and Edelweiss for an honest review.