When I saw this book at Borders on sale (the hardback copy) I thought "I've heard of this book....a while ago." Then I read the "from the author of Garden Spells"....and though oh yeah, I read that, LOVED it. It had magic and slightly tragic things..but good ending....Well Turns out it's not quite the book I though I read so long ago. Now I remember the "garden" somewhere in the title, and I now remember the name of the author had "York" in there somewhere, but for the life of me I can't remember anything other than that. Whatever the case may be, I am glad I bought this particular book. If you're a fan of the best of Alice Hoffman, the magical fairytale type of writing (remember Practical Magic? or Turtle Moon?) then you would love the work of Sara Addison Allen.
Regarding the cover - I like the design on it, and I kind of like the picture part, but...Well the design part is beautiful and is embossed on the cover, which makes for a beautiful cover. The photograph is a little bleh, but it does kind of match the main character's desires...however the main character is supposed to be a bit overweight, with pale skin and very very curly black hair. Not shown in the photo.
When I first bought the book, I was looking for a "palate cleansing" book. A book that's not UF or SciFi that I can read after I've read a couple of kickass UF novels. After I've read a few of those, then nothing else works for me until I read something completely different. books that I normally would rate a four or five out of six would end up being very boring to me after reading an Andrews or McLeod book. So, when I've read those, I go for something completely different now, just to give the other books a fair chance. Sounds a little obsessively geeky, but there it is.
I was pleasantly surprised to end up reading a fiction book that actually turned out to be a little bit magical, a bit fairytale-ish...in a good way. Sarah Addison Allen's style of writing reminds me happily of Alice Hoffman's writing. Beautiful with a touch of magic and wistfulness. Always with a good ending if not always with a happily ever after ending. The Sugar Queen has great narration, wonderful characters, a great creepy villain who is himself tortured, and very good dialogue. It's not extremely long, and I would have loved reading a bit more (luckily I found some deleted scenes at the website, along with a button for the recipes of the sandwiches a character makes). I sat down to read The Sugar Queen one night, around 10 p.m. and next thing I knew it was 5 a.m. and I had just finished it. I was very satisfied with the book, and yet I was left wanting more.
This is a story of a very subdued young woman (really, she's in her late twenties) who has decided she owes her mother the REST OF HER LIFE, because as a child she threw some dramatic temper tantrums all over town and at home. In fact, the townies all remember her infamous temper tantrums. Her mother keeps Josey under her thumb, at her beck an call. She also puts her down at every chance, further keeping Josey under her control by grounding her self-esteem her heel. Horrible woman....but there's this section that almost makes me feel sorry for her. Almost. Things begin to change though when Josey finds a woman in her closet...and the woman refuses to leave, instead becoming involved in Josey's life and forcing her to come out of her shell and experience life.
Dolly Lee (the closet woman) ends up manipulating Josey into meeting Chloe, who needs a friend. And finds out about Josey's secret crush on the mail man. What follows is the awakening - or the re-awakening of Josey's real personality. Her self respect begins to return. Her mother is in for some lessons and changes also....
Yes, this was a damned good book, and like I said, I want to read more. Luckily for me, I found out that Ms Allen has quite a few books out...
The Peach Keeper - the latest
The Girl Who Chased the Moon - apparently just out in paperback
Garden Spells -the book I though I read, but still need to read
I have three most likely excellent books to look forward to. (lol, I just have to buy them..) The Sugar Queen has been out already for at least three years, but it was new to me and I enjoyed it very much.