Monday, September 14, 2015

The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick

What They Say.....With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of Eastwick, 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.

What I Say....I was really excited to get this advance copy of The Sparrow Sisters because I am a huge fan of magical realism.  I think this genre can be very hard to write, it's easy to go too far and end up feeling like fantasy.

Nettie, Sorrel and Patience Sparrow are the slightly odd sisters who all live together in the family home, and work in their nursery, selling plants and flowers that always seem to be blooming no matter what the season.  Patience is the local healer, making natural remedies for the townsfolk.  This has been the way it has always been, going back to the 1800's, when her ancestor was accused of witchcraft by a hysterical town.

When a new doctor moves to town, he finds himself very irritated with Patience's practice and their first meeting does not go well.  But as you might imagine, romance blossoms. 

Then tragedy strikes in the form of a very unexpected death, and the town is torn apart with the resulting trial.

The things I loved were the details of the remedies, the fact that the women in the town bonded together to save Patience, and the descriptions of the town.

Things that I think will improve as the author gets her footing (this is her first novel) are the pacing and continuity.  At times, I felt like there was too much quick back and forth of feelings, particularly with Henry.  He went from loving Patience to not trusting her.  From not being able to wait to see her to not particularly liking her.  I thought there could have been a deeper look at what made Matty's dad change his mind within a few days.

I wish there had been more of a connection or details about the witch hunt of the past with the witch hunt of today.

But these are all just suggestions for improvement, and didn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the book.

Ellen Herrick has joined Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen on my must read magical realism author list.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.81

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