I am officially calling First Frost my first great read of the year! This book was wonderful, and it was only after I finished reading it that I found out that it has a prequel. I think reading the first book, Garden Spells, would have helped me to understand the characters and their backstory a little more clearly, but this book can totally stand on it's own.
This is the intriguing story of the Waverly women, Claire, Sydney and Bay. They live in Bascom, North Carolina and their lives are being turned upside-down by the apple tree in the Waverly backyard. This tree blooms every year on the day of the first frost, and the weeks that lead up to the frost and blossoming put all of the Waverly's on edge. You see, each one of these women has some kind of special ability, call it magic if you will. It's her special gift. It's the talent she uses to make her way in the world. And some of the Bascom locals think the Waverly women have to ability to change circumstances. A haircut from Sydney can give a week of bad luck, or a cake from Claire can make a neighbor jealous. Because of these gifts, the women are peculiar, and not always accepted by others. It's especially hard for Bay, who is a sophomore in high school.
This year as first frost approaches, something is different. The Waverly woman feel a general foreboding that something bad is about to happen. Bay is determined not to do something incredibly stupid to gain more unwanted attention from her crush. Sydney is desperate to give her husband the son she believes he has always wanted, while simultaneously saving a young girl from making the same mistakes she did. Sydney also sees it as her responsibility to see that Bay doesn't get her heart broken. And Claire is just trying to figure out where she really fits in the family. Claire has always stood on her own, without asking for help from others, but when her greatest trial comes, she must decide if she can lean on her family for help, or go it on her own.
I don't believe in magic and I don't read books that have witches or wizards in them, but this one was different. While the women have gifts, they aren't witches and the don't place spells or curse anyone. Actually, Sarah Addison Allen writes as if maybe, just maybe, the "gifts" are more in peoples' minds than anything the sisters actually do. The gifts are more of an idea than a reality. There is a great mysterious aspect in this book. It makes you wonder all the way to the end what will happen next and how many more things will go crazy before the first frost. This author's descriptions are amazing as well. Every time Claire's food was mentioned I immediately got hungry! The descriptions of the Waverly house and garden were beautiful too. I love the front door of that house!
I hope that there will be other books about the Waverly's in the future. This book was perfect in the sense that it wrapped up the story very nicely, but still left me wanting more. I guess I'll have to go back and read Garden Spells while I'm waiting!
I was given an advance galley of this book by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and a favorable review was not required. Look for First Frost on sale on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.