Emily Benedict didn't even know that she had any other family until her mother died. At the moment she feels cut adrift from the world, she discovers roots in North Carolina. Her grandfather turns out to literally be a giant, people in the small town of Mullaby seem to hold her responsible for something her activist mother did in the past, and there are strange lights floating around in the woods behind her house.
I really liked the whole story, I just felt that I wanted a little more meat to it. That's really my only criticism.
I liked the way that Emily learned the value of family. Julia learns that for most people, home will always be home, no matter how hard you try to leave it behind. I loved the way that the Coffeys learn that there aren't really any secrets in small towns, but that people rarely think your secret is as important as you do. I love that Emily's grandfather, Vance, learns that life can and should go on, even after you lose someone you love. See? There are all these great life lessons packed in here, and the book is very light and sunny. Maybe I would have appreciated it even more if I had read it at a different time. I'll probably read it again sometime; it's definitely good enough for a re-read.
My favorite of Sarah Addison Allen's magics is the appearing books in The Sugar Queen, but I also love the magic in this book. One character has a "sweet sense" that leads him to sugary goodness and another magic that is a secret but beyond beautiful.
Speaking of sugary goodness, don't read this if you're dieting! Julia's cakes all sound heavenly, and I don't even like barbecue, but those descriptions left me hungry!
I would still recommend this for fans of Sarah Addison Allen. I think this would make a good cross-over introduction to her work for young adult readers. For adult readers picking up her work for the first time, I would recommend either Garden Spells or The Sugar Queen as a better introduction.
Read an excerpt on Sarah Addison Allen's website. There are lots of other goodies there, including recipes for Julia's heavenly cake and the fourteen different covers the book went through!