By Sarah Addison Allen
St. Martin’s Press, 2015. Fiction. 304 pgs.
This sequel catches up with sisters Claire and Sydney Waverly more than a decade after the events of Addison’s debut novel, Garden Spells. Having put her catering business and personal needs on hold to launch an overwhelmingly successful candy business, Claire begins to question her Waverly identity and abilities. Sydney, meanwhile, is happy as a wife, mother, and hairstylist, but her desperation to have a second baby is starting to interfere with every aspect of her life. She is unaware that her daughter Bay, now a teenager, has not only discovered her special Waverly gift, but has also had her first taste of loneliness and love. When a dangerous stranger comes to town, he threatens the happiness of all of the Waverly women.
Like Allen’s other works, First Frost makes for a pleasant, mellow read. I found Sydney’s story a little less developed than either Claire’s or Bay’s, so readers who enjoyed that character in Garden Spells might be a little disappointed. I also wasn’t totally sold on the mysterious stranger storyline. Nevertheless, Allen’s sleepy, romantic, and magical portrayal of small town life remains as charming as ever. Overall, her books strike me as being overly similar to each other, but I’m a sucker for them anyway.