“The Sparrow Sisters” by Ellen Herrick

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“The Sparrow Sisters” by Ellen HerrickThe Sparrow Sisters: A Novel by Ellen Herrick
Published: 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genres: Fiction (General)
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
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The Sparrow Sisters is a story of subtle magic set in a quaint New England town.  Three unmarried sisters live together and run a local greenhouse.  The youngest, Patience, is somewhat of a healer.  She uses her knowledge of plants to create herbal remedies to ease the town’s aches and pains.  Patience never really fit into the town’s social hierarchy, but she has a kind heart, and so her oddity has always been accepted.

Enter Henry Carlyle, a young doctor and veteran.  Henry moved to Granite Point in order to try to forget about his time in the war, and about the child he couldn’t save when a school was hit by an IED.  When he sees Patience, he is utterly charmed.

It seems like both Patience and Henry are about to find happiness when tragedy strikes.  A child is dead, and Patience’s remedies are implicated.  The people of Granite Point immediately become superstitious, and a modern-day witch hunt ensues.  Henry tries his best to be there for Patience as he struggles with his own painful memories.

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The chapter headings beautifully convey the mood of the story.

Herrick’s language is rich and evocative, and every page is garden of words.  Each chapter begins with a short saying about one of the plants in the Sparrow sisters’ garden. Despite the story’s modern setting, The Sparrow Sisters feels like it is set in the past, a deliberate decision that ties the gossip and superstition of the present to New England’s Puritanical past.

Although I quickly fell in love with the setting and the characters, I wasn’t thrilled with the tragedy at the center of the book.  It’s not that it wasn’t well done, so much as the fact that I tend to prefer happier books, and this one was kind of a downer.  That being said, the tragedy tied what felt like two disparate stories together–the romance between Patience and Henry, the story of a small town learning to get over its superstitious past and band together to save one of its own.

I also wished that there could have been a bit more commitment to the magical elements of the story.  As is, they seemed more like a hope or a wishful possibility than something real.  I wanted to know more about the book of recipes that seemingly gave Patience her power, and the history of Patience’s witchy ancestors as they lived in Granite Point.

Patience and Henry are adorably awkward together, and despite the fact that they each have a different form of medicine, they complement each other well.  I felt like I could truly root for their blossoming love.  And after the tragedy, Patience ends up facing the came guilt as Henry, and the two of them help each other learn to forgive themselves and move on.  Meanwhile, the town of Granite Point feels like a character in its own right, and has to learn to move on from feelings of loss and helplessness to keep from destroying itself from within.

The Sparrow Sisters is a charming albeit slightly depressing read, and yet its message is one of hope and healing.  While I can’t say that I loved the book, I’d definitely recommend it.

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