Sarah Addison Allen has charmed me with every one of her novels and her most recent, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, is no exception. I loved every minute with Emily, Julia, Vance, Stella, Sawyer and Win. I want to eat cake made by Julia, see the wallpaper change in Emily's bedroom and just experience the little bit of magic all of these people have in their lives.
Teenager Emily Benedict has come to Mullaby, North Carolina to live with her grandfather, Vance Shelby, also known as the Giant of Mullaby because he's "tall enough to see into tomorrow"-- over eight feet tall. Emily has never met her grandfather or visited Mullaby, where her recently deceased mother grew up. She doesn't know what to expect and there are a number of surprises awaiting her, some of them upsetting, some of them comforting.
Meanwhile, Julia Winterson wants nothing more than to leave Mullaby and move back to Maryland. Julia may have grown up in this small town, but now she is a temporary, maybe not so welcome fixture, or so she thinks. Julia inherited her father's BBQ restaurant in Mullaby. While she leaves most of the running of the restaurant to her staff, she bakes fabulous cakes and pastries fresh each morning as town is waking up. When the mortgage on the restaurant is paid off, she plans to sell it and open her own bakery in Baltimore. Emily is a great character, but Julia is my favorite.
Sarah Addison Allen's two previous novels are Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen. I think of the three, The Girl Who Chased the Moon is probably my least favorite, but don't let that put you off. I still loved it and recommend it very much; I just like the other two a little better. I don't want to go into detail about why I like this one just a little less, for fear of giving away a big part of the story.
One difference between The Girl Who Chased the Moon and its predecessors that I found kind of nice is that there isn't a really bad guy involved in the story. Gardens Spells had David and The Sugar Queen had Julian; both were truly evil men; there's no other way for me to describe them. While that very real evil was absent from The Girl Who Chased the Moon, other touches of other-worldly, positive magic were present. As an example, the wallpaper in Emily's bedroom changes depending on her mood.
With all three novels, I've really become attached to the characters. Both main characters and supporting characters are always a treat. It's always possible to imagine her characters going on with their lives beyond the end of the book. The stories are about the past and present, but the endings are about the future and leave me feeling hopeful. Her style is becoming familiar to me and I like that because it makes the books comforting. I do hope, however, that her stories continue to remain fresh; that familiar style doesn't become same old, same old.