Desert Isle Keeper
The Girl Who Chased the Moon
With the paranormal boom that is happening right now you would think it would be easy to find books that meet the terms enchanting, magical, or charming. It’s not. Most simply convey the idea of a supernatural world, but somehow Sarah Addison Allen has the gift for pulling you into the very heart of her magic and keeping you there long after you have set the book down.
Emily Benedict didn’t know she had a grandfather until a car accident took her mother’s life. Finding out that he was a gentle giant (over 8 feet tall) was just one more surprise – but a pleasant one – to a girl who knew nothing about her mother’s past. Finding out that everyone but her neighbor Julia wishes she had never come to Mullaby is not so pleasant.
While Julia welcomes Emily to Mullaby, she herself hates the small town. Growing up there had been hell; she was her high school’s social outcast, the girl prom queen Dulcie Benedict loved to torment, and she would never have come back if it had not been for her father’s recent death. But the sale of her father’s BBQ restaurant is necessary to fund her dream, and Julia is determined to see that dream become a reality.
Is it ever a good idea to go back to the past – even when the past is not your own? While Emily struggles to find out just why her very presence has the entire town stirred up, Julia struggles to deal with the dark memories of which she is reminded by every turn of a corner. For Julia, Sawyer Alexander represents both the lightest and darkest of these memories, wrapped up as a sweet, sinful package more alluring even than the sweets she bakes. For Emily, the mystery of the town seems to be wrapped around Win Coffey, a high school boy who dresses like he is from the 1800’s and who zips around her life like a bolt of summer lightning, leaving questions as large as scorch marks in his wake.
The town of Mullaby is a character in its own right in this book. It is, as the jacket describes, a place “where mysteries aren’t solved, they’re a way of life”. It is a place where cakes can call people home, where light walks, and giants see into tomorrow. It’s a place where BBQ is an art form and where food speaks – whether it is the welcome of an apple stack cake or the final farewell of a coconut one.
It is also a place of simple but real magic. Where goodness and love can literally set a person’s skin aglow. Where sugar and vanilla waft through the air on tangible, silken chords. And where forgiveness, for yourself, for others really can heal.
Allen has such a way with words that she makes all of her world feel believable. Her simple magics – the way our mood changes our environment, the way sugar can cure the blues – leap off the page and into your heart.
The story is an ensemble piece in the best sense of the word. You meet a whole cast of quirky characters, but each fit seamlessly into the tale surrounding Julia and Emily. They add background and substance rather than just comic relief or distraction. While more women’s fiction than romance, there are two love stories at the heart of the book. You can’t help but root for the HEA of young Emily and Win as they overcome obstacles from the past to forge a future for themselves. And Julia and Sawyer too must overcome yesterday in order for them to have a tomorrow.
The minus is for something the author did that surprised me. When she got to the end of the tale she pulled back from the villainy of a character who really did seem to belong in a villain’s role. It was almost as though she just couldn’t put the weight of that on Emily’s small shoulders, but that simple fact pulled me from the tale harshly enough to make the story only almost perfect, as opposed to the perfection it was aiming for (and very nearly achieved) .
The Girl Who Chased the Moon is a sweet, wonderful read, perfect for a spring or summer afternoon when you want a book to take you to a really enchanted place.