Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick

Title: The Sparrow Sisters
Author: Ellen Herrick
Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks (September 1, 2015)
ISBN: 9780062386342
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: eARC
Genre: women's fiction, magical realism
My Rating: 3 cups

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.

My Thoughts:

"For a second he was almost frightened. Not by Patience exactly but by this place where sisters sensed each other in the dark, this town that believed a young woman could keep them well with nothing but her garden: an ordinary place where flowers bloomed long past the first frost and people sniffed the air to guess what Patience Sparrow might be feeling before they checked the weather."

I'm a fan of magical realism and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is a particular favorite of mine, so the description for The Sparrow Sisters immediately piqued my interest. I dug in eagerly, and whilst it was entertaining and I did like this book, I didn't quite love it.

The premise is interesting, but some of the execution just doesn't deliver. Although there are some wonderful descriptions, the writing overall lacks some of the lyrical quality and charm found in SAA's work. This tale is also considerably darker, with more sadness and tragedy to be found as it unfolds, and there are some inconsistencies in the magical abilities.

Even so, there are several compelling themes explored here which make it a worthy read - small town dynamics, science vs. the mystical, conventional medicine vs. folk healing, the dangers of gossip, public opinion and mob mentality. I also particularly enjoyed the relationships between the Sparrow sisters themselves and even more so the 'sisterhood' of the women of the entire town as this story resolved.

The ending hints that there may be more Sparrow books to come, possibly dealing with the other two sisters, and I would be most willing to give those a read. These characters interested me enough to continue on with their story, and hopefully it will only get better as it goes along.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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