How do you follow up when your first novel, Garden Spells, makes the bestseller lists? Sarah Addison Allen wrote The Sugar Queen, another magical novel. It's a worthy successor, and the best book I've read so far this year. Fans of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic must try Allen's books.
At 27, Josey Cirrini was the wealthy daughter of the man who put Bald Slope, North Carolina on the map as a winter resort. She was also a young woman who stayed home with her widowed mother, waited on her, hid food in her closet, and had no life outside the house. Then one day, she opened her closet to find Della Lee Baker hiding in it. Della Lee had fled from her own life, and the closet was now her shelter, just as it was Josey's refuge.
Josey fights for control of her closet, but Della Lee continues to push her out into the world. First, there's an errand to pick up lunch at a small sandwich shop. Chloe Finley, owner of the shop, is in need of a friend after breaking up with her boyfriend. At the moment, Chloe's best friends are the books that seem to have turned on her. Books appear magically in Chloe's life, and, right now, the titles push her to forgive the man who cheated on her. Josey and Chloe need each other.
Why is Della Lee in Josey's closet? She pushes her, to find a friend, to speak to the mailman, to add color to her life. Della Lee might not seem to be a wise woman, but her comment to Josey shows a knowledge of the heart. "You and me and Chloe...We can't hold on to our hearts to save our lives."
The Sugar Queen shares some traits with Garden Spells. Once again, families members share interesting traits. The Pelhams couldn't go back on promises. The Cirrini women were magical women with curly hair. As in the earlier one, this is a book filled with unexplained magic, and love. And, hopefully, like Garden Spells, this one will make the bestseller lists.