Friday, August 5, 2011


Pages: 257
Date: 05/08/2011
Grade: 4.5
Details: Magical Realism

Emily Benedict moves to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with the grandfather she never knew she had after her mother dies. She has no idea why her mother never talked about her past or her family and is determined to find out.
As soon as she enters her grandfather’s house she knows she has entered a slightly different world. Her grandfather turns out to be an eight feet tall giant, there are ghostly lights in the garden at night and the wallpaper in her bedroom changes according to her mood. She also discovers that the mother she only knew as selfless and dedicated to others, had a reputation for being selfish and spoiled as a teenager. She was very popular until something happened that made the town turn on her. And people are still upset about whatever her mother did, some going so far as to make Emily feel distinctly unwelcome.
Emily’s nearest neighbour, Julia, has issues of her own. Only back in Mullaby, after years away, to save enough money to sell her father’s restaurant at a profit, she’s counting the days until she can go away again. Or is there something or somebody who could make her want to stay?

This is a charming story. Sarah Addison Allen presents the magical elements in her stories in such a way that it feels all too possible. It is easy to believe that wall paper would adjust its patterns according to a person’s moods or that baking a cake could draw a loved one closer. Her characters are charming and easy to like, despite whatever faults they may have and the reader really wants everything to work out well for them.
The only reason this book didn’t score five stars is that it felt a bit too simple. I couldn’t help feeling that the story, the tensions and the resolution of the issues could have been fleshed out bit more.
It’s not always easy to find books by this author in Ireland, but whenever I do it is always a delight.

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