In this irresistible follow-up to herNew York Timesbestselling debut,Garden Spells,author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever. Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother… Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman.
Allen's second bewitching offering (after Garden Spells) is a candy jar of magical characters and mystical adventures set in an ordinary North Carolina town. At 27, Josey Cirrini is "plain and just this side of plump" and trying to make up for her legendary childhood temper tantrums by caring for her aging, widowed mother Margaret. Her closet features neatly stacked junk food packages and romance novels, and her life chugs along. But as the book opens, Della Lee Baker, waitress at the local greasy spoon, shows up in Josey's closet, having propped a ladder against the house and climbed silently in overnight. She's hiding from someone or something, and has no intention of leaving anytime soon. Instead, the very direct Della Lee sends Josey on a series and missions and misadventures that encourage our low self-esteem heroine to step outside her box and away from her snack-filled closet. As in Allen's previous work, there's an element of the supernatural (self-help books that literally follow one around; tears that sprout mysterious tropical flowers), and again it works. Words such as sweet, charming and delightful are weak accolades for such a pleasurable book. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-4 of the 4 most recent reviews
1 . Great Book
Posted November 23, 2010 by RF , New YorkUnfortunately, I knew the twist before I started reading the book. Still, I enjoyed it and found it hard to put down!
2 . Magical
Posted March 14, 2010 by Book Lover , FraminghamMagical story of three women who find each other in an unorthodox way (to say the least). When you finish this book you will want to read all of Sarah Addison Allen's books.
3 . Really Charming
Posted August 15, 2009 by Mags , North CarolinaReally Charming book. Garden Spells made me a fan of Sarah Addison Allen. The Sugar Queen was heart warming and magical. Captured my interest from page 1 and held it until the end.
4 . Loved it!!
Posted December 16, 2008 by Kathy , Cottonwood HeightsI loved this book. I thought that the characters were fresh. The story was a little predictable after a couple of chapters you kinda get the idea that the one girl is a ghost and but all three of them are sisters. I liked how the main character blossomed by the end of the book. The ending was sweet, very heart warming.
May 19, 2008
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Excerpt from The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
When Josey woke up and saw the feathery frost on her windowpane, she smiled. Finally, it was cold enough to wear long coats and tights. It was cold enough for scarves and shirts worn in layers, like camouflage. It was cold enough for her lucky red cardigan, which she swore had a power of its own. She loved this time of year. Summer was tedious with the light dresses she pretended to be comfortable in while secretly sure she looked like a loaf of white bread wearing a belt. The cold was such a relief.
She went to the window. A fine sheen of sugary frost covered everything in sight, and white smoke rose from chimneys in the valley below the resort town. Excited, she opened the window, but the sash stuck midway and she had to pound it the rest of the way with the palm of her hand. It finally opened to a rush of sharp early November air that would have the town in a flurry of activity, anticipating the tourists the colder weather always brought to the high mountains of North Carolina.
She stuck her head out and took a deep breath. If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps. In her mind they were made with white chocolate chunks and had a cool, brittle vanilla frosting. They melted like snow in her mouth, turning creamy and warm.
Just before she ducked her head back inside, she looked down and noticed something strange.
There was a ladder propped against the house, directly underneath her window.
She leaned back in quickly and closed her window. She paused, then she locked it.
She turned and walked to her closet, distracted now. She hadn't heard anything strange last night. The tree trimmers from yesterday must have left the ladder. Yes. That had to be it. They'd probably propped it against the house and then completely forgotten about it.
She opened her closet door and reached up to pull the string that turned on the light.
Then she screamed and backed away, stopping only when she hit her desk and her lamp crashed to the floor.
"Oh for God's sake," the woman sitting on the floor of her closet said, "don't have a cow."
"Josey?" She heard her mother's voice in the hall, then the thud of her cane as she came closer.
"Please don't tell her I'm here," the woman in the closet said, with a strange sort of desperation. Despite the cold outside, she was wearing a cropped white shirt and tight dark blue jeans that sat low, revealing a tattoo of a broken heart on her hip. Her hair was bleached white-blond with about an inch of silver-sprinkled dark roots showing. Her mascara had run and there were black streaks on her cheeks. She looked drip-dried, like she'd been walking in the rain, though there hadn't been rain for days. She smelled like cigarette smoke and river water.
Josey turned her head as her bedroom door began to open. Then, in a small act that changed everything, Josey reached over and pushed the closet door closed as her mother entered the room.
"Josey? What was that noise? Are you all right?" Margaret asked. She'd been a beautiful woman in her day, delicate and trim, blue-eyed and fair-haired. There was a certain power beautiful mothers held over their less beautiful daughters. Even at seventy-four, with a limp from a hip replacement, Margaret could still enter a room and fill it like perfume. Josey could never do that. The closest she ever came was the attention she used to receive when she pitched legendary fits in public when she was young. But that was making people look at her for all the wrong reasons.
"My lamp," Josey said. "It attacked me out of nowhere."
"Oh, well," Margaret said distantly, "leave it for the maid to clean. Hurry up and get dressed. My doctor's appointment is at nine."
Margaret closed the bedroom door. Josey waited until the clump of her cane faded away before she rushed to the closet door and opened it again.
Most locals knew who Della Lee was. She waitressed at a greasy spoon called Eat and Run, which was tucked far enough outside the town limits that the ski-crowd tourists didn't see it. She haunted bars at night. She was probably in her late thirties, maybe ten years older than Josey, and she was rough and flashy and did whatever she wanted--no reasonable explanation required.
"Della Lee Baker, what are you doing in my closet?"
"You shouldn't leave your window unlocked. Who knows who could get in?" Della Lee said, single-handedly debunking the long-held belief that if you dotted your windowsills and door thresholds with peppermint oil, no unwanted visitors would ever appear. For years Josey's mother had instructed every maid in their employ to anoint the house's casings with peppermint to keep the undesirables away. Their house now smelled like the winter holidays all year round.
Josey took a step back and pointed. "Get out."