In the Shadow Garden by Liz Parker is a solid debut women’s fiction novel with magical realism and a smattering of romance. The ebook version is 336 pages. We follow a multitude of characters with third-person points-of-view.
The Haywood family has held a symbiotic relationship with The Shadow Garden in Yarrow, Kentucky for as long as anyone can remember. They help ease pain and suffering from the townsfolk, and feed it to the garden. They even helped the local bourbon distillery with seeds for a special dark corn. Once a year, at the Harvest Festival, the townsfolk sip the bourbon and willingly let their worst memory of the year disappear. But twenty years ago, the whole town forgot an entire summer–a summer in which one person died and one person disappeared.
There’s a family tree included at the beginning of this book, and it is very important that you keep that handy, so bookmark it if you’re reading digitally. I will say that over the course of my read I started getting confused between the names, but the tree really helped with that.
There is a dash of romance here, and I was thankful the author focused on two people who were around age 40 than the romance around the couple who were around age 20. I also really enjoyed the author’s expansion of the idea that when you heal from trauma, you can create beautiful things out of pain. This extended metaphor was great.
I’m a big fan of tea, so I really enjoyed reading about the different blends that the Haywoods create, and how they interpret tea leaf readings. There’s a glossary in the back of the book with information about the tea leaf symbols described in the book that I really appreciated.
I think the pacing was better in the second half of the book compared to the first, where the story probably could have been tightened up a bit. I ended up reading the entire second half in one sitting!
I would have also loved a bit more worldbuilding here, like more of an explanation about how the magic works and how it came to be.
If you liked Practical Magic you’ll probably like this book! This felt like a perfect end-of-summer/beginning-of-fall read.
Tropes in this book include: family drama, small town
CW: grief, loss, stolen memories, child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, death
The publisher provided an ebook galley of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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