Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen is one seriously delightful, magical story — and I gobbled it up in two sittings! I probably would have devoured it whole if, you know, real life hadn’t gotten in the way (it always seems to do that!).
Josey Cirrini has been dealing with her mother’s firm disapproval for as long as she can remember — and now, at 27, she’s finally realizing that we can’t try to atone for past mistakes forever, and there certainly comes a time to move forward. She probably wouldn’t have reached this conclusion if Della Lee Baker, a local waitress and ne’er-do-well, hadn’t taken her closet hostage, moving in with a stack of her own worries and a demand to stay for as long as she needs to. After Della Lee discovers Josey’s secret stash of candy (oh, delicious candy!) and paperbacks, the two are bonded through their secrets — and the threat of blackmail.
At Della Lee’s (often tough) encouragement, Josey slowly begins to widen the tiny world in which she’s been sequestered in Bald Slope, North Carolina as the only daughter of local developer and hero Marco Cirrini. She meets Chloe, the owner of a local cafe, and the two strike up an immediate friendship which strengthens as Josey realizes Chloe’s connection to mailman Adam, whom Josey has longed for since the moment she first saw him.
Filled with mystery, suspense, romance and plenty of surprises, I absolutely loved The Sugar Queen. The dynamics between Josey and her mother were intense but realistic, and I adored troubled Della Lee, whose heart was always in the right place. I really related to Chloe and Jake’s relationship — the pull of first love, the intensity of finding someone so special to you. The effort it takes to forgive them for their mistakes… which turns out to take no effort at all. Addison Allen’s descriptions of their relationship really struck a chord with me.
And though magic is a recurring theme through the novel, it never seems strange or unrealistic — it feels right, an awesome and whimsical touch in a very fantastic story. Was it a tad predictable at times? Perhaps — but that bothered me little. I knew the journey getting there would be worth it, and there still plenty of unexpected moments to keep me flipping the pages fast.
I loved Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, and I have to say that I found this one just as entrancing — if not more so. She has a way of immediately drawing you into a story, surrounding you as though you’re caught in a silvery snowstorm. Highly recommended!
4.5 out of 5!