Book Review: The Sparrow Sisters

The Sparrow Sisters 
Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Adult - Fiction, Magical Realism

Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience Sparrow have quite the reputation in their small town of Granite Point. The town located in New England is not a newcomer to the notion of magic and witchcraft as the region has a deep historical connection to these elements. The sisters own a local nursery and their ability with plants awes locals and tourists alike. Patience, in particular, has a gift that allows her to use plants to help people with health concerns. The residents of Granite Falls love the Sparrow sisters in spite of their eccentricities, but change is in the air and all of the sisters will be effected.

None of the sisters has married, but when a handsome new doctor, Henry Carlyle, moves to town Patience cannot deny her instant attraction to the man. As much as she mistrusts modern medicine, she feels drawn to Henry and finds herself embarking on a romantic entanglement that will change the very nature of her being. This relationship had some Pride and Prejudice elements as both Patience and Henry bring their own assumptions about the other to the budding relationship. They also cling to their stubborn nature throughout a majority of the novel which was slightly annoying.

The novel largely focuses on learning more about the sisters and then a town mystery that places Patience at the center. The writing in this one has a strong literary flair and I loved the sense of place. The sisters and their home came to life in my mind as Herrick weaved her detailed descriptions. The setting and character descriptions are the strength of this piece.

I was drawn to this one because of my love of Sarah Addison Allen's work. She manages to take realistic situations and infuse them with magic to create an addicting story. I was hoping for the same from Herrick. While I enjoyed The Sparrow Sisters, it didn't have the same addicting quality of Allen's work. I'd recommend this one to fans of magical realism, those who enjoy novels set in New England, and those readers who are looking for a fall read with a little swirl of "otherness".

One Last Gripe: I had trouble settling into this narration style. It felt unwelcoming if that makes sense. I wasn't immediately drawn into this story. It took some effort on my part.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The strong sense of place

First Sentence: All stories are true.

Favorite Character: Patience

Least Favorite Character: Henry (at times) - his attitude irked me

With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of East End, Ellen Herrick’s debut novel spins an enchanting love story about a place where magic whispers just beneath the surface and almost anything is possible, if you aren’t afraid to listen

The Sparrow sisters are as tightly woven into the seaside New England town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk. 

Patience is the town healer and when a new doctor settles into Granite Point he brings with him a mystery so compelling that Patience is drawn to love him, even as she struggles to mend him. But when Patience Sparrow’s herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, Granite Point is consumed by a long-buried fear—and its three hundred year old history resurfaces as a modern day witch-hunt threatens. The plants and flowers, fruit trees and high hedges begin to wither and die, and the entire town begins to fail; fishermen return to the harbor empty-handed, and blight descends on the old elms that line the lanes. 

It seems as if Patience and her town are lost until the women of Granite Point band together to save the Sparrow. As they gather, drawing strength from each other, will they be able to turn the tide and return life to Granite Point?

The Sparrow Sisters is a beautiful, haunting, and thoroughly mesmerizing novel that will capture your imagination.