by Liz Parker
Publication Date: September 13, 2022
Genre: Magical Realism
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
There’s something magical about Yarrow, Kentucky. The three empathic witches of the Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes imbued with the flavors of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear. But the Haywoods will never forget the Bonners’ bitter betrayal.
Twenty years ago, the town gave up more than one memory; they forgot an entire summer. One person died. One person disappeared. And no one has any recollection of either.
As events from that fateful summer start to come to light, there must be a reckoning between the rival Haywood and Bonner families. But untangling the deep roots of this town’s terrible secrets will expose more than they could ever imagine about love, treachery, and the true nature of their power.
Both what I was expecting and what I wasn’t. Elentarri read this recently and liked it and the whole idea of a shadow garden that feeds off pain and sorrow appealed to me.
The story more or less covers three generations of the Haywoods; a family of witches whose gift is to remove some of the pain and sorrow of their fellow townspeople as a way to help them heal. This pain and sorrow is fed into the shadow garden and helps the plants within to grow with extraordinary gifts themselves.
My only, biggest, issue was – and I have no idea why – I kept thinking of the youngest Haywood as a teenager. She’s not, she’s in her latish-20’s. Some of her behaviour probably contributed to this misconception, but either way it was a bit jarring. I also kept mixing up who was with whom in a couple of the relationships – fortunately there was a family tree to reference.
I really like where Parker took the story; it was a direction I hadn’t anticipated, but it worked beautifully, even if some of the characters weren’t as wholly developed out as they could have been. This appears to be Parker’s first book – if her character development catches up to her story and plotting development, she’ll have a lot of very good books ahead of her.