Published by Gallery Books on July 30, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
THE BOOK CHARMER Review
I have to admit that I requested Karen Hawkins’ latest novel The Book Charmer from Netgalley solely based on the beautiful cover and the fact that it was clearly a book about books. That combination was irresistible to me, even without having read the synopsis. Thankfully once I settled down and actually read the synopsis, I knew my instinct to select this book was a good one as it’s marketed as a book perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic and Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors.
I found The Book Charmer to be a truly magical read in every sense of the word, and although I feel like I could ramble about this book for days, I’m just going to share a few of the things I enjoyed most.
- Dove Pond. I adore books that are set in small towns and the town of Dove Pond stole my heart right away. It’s a quaint little southern town located in North Carolina. It’s one of those little towns where all the residents know each other and make it their business to know about everyone new who comes to their town. They may seem like busybodies on the surface, but the residents will have your back in a heartbeat if you find yourself in trouble. And yes, the town has its fair share of quirky characters which sometimes made me chuckle, but the sense of community in Dove Pond was overall just truly heartwarming. It’s like one big happy family.
- Grace Wheeler. The Book Charmer features fiercely independent women as its protagonists and Grace Wheeler is one of them. Grace has moved to Dove Pond and is just taking things day by day, trying to adjust to recent changes in her life that have left her as her niece Daisy’s primary caregiver and in a similar role for her foster mother, Mama G., who is suffering from dementia. The only reason Grace is in Dove Pond is because it’s where Mama G. grew up and doctors have told her that a familiar environment would help Mama G. cope with her deteriorating memories. I loved Grace right away because of her determination to put her family first at all costs and because of her sense of independence. She is determined to leave Dove Pond as soon as she possibly can and has no interest in putting down permanent roots there, including making friends. She just simply doesn’t have the time or energy to devote to that.
(As a side note, I also really appreciated how Hawkins handled writing about someone who is experiencing dementia – how it impacts them and how it impacts everyone around them. As someone who has a family member who is currently suffering from dementia, I found myself nodding my head at what was going on with Mama G. throughout the book. Hawkins handles this subject matter delicately and accurately).
- Sarah Dove. While Grace is doggedly determined to leave Dove Pond as soon as possible, equally stubborn Dove Pond resident, Sarah Dove, has other ideas. Sarah is the town librarian, which of course endeared her to me right away, because…books! But I also adored Sarah because she was just so adorably quirky. She also has a special gift when it comes to books – I don’t want to say too much about it, but if you’re in Dove Pond and Sarah gives you a book, it’s definitely in your best interest to take it, whether you think you want to read it or not! Sarah also has a gift when it comes to knowing what Dove Pond needs and as soon as she meets Grace, she decides Dove Pond needs Grace. Sarah therefore makes it her mission to make Grace fall in love with the town and its residents.
- Relationships. At its heart, The Book Charmer is a book about relationships. It has a strong focus on family, especially found families, and on the importance of friendships (whether you’re looking for them or not). And yes, for all of the romance fans out there, there is a hint of a romance in the book as well. I don’t want to say much about that either except to say that Trav, the male love interest, is described as looking like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones Yes, please! (And you know I of course loved that this book had GoT references in it!)
- Magical Realism. Sometimes magical realism is hit or miss for me, but it really works in this charming, special little town. This is where the comparison to Alice Hoffman’s books were so apt because Hawkins’ use of magical realism is subtle like Hoffman’s is and really gives you that feeling that those little magical elements could actually be possible.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming read that features a small town setting, lovable characters, and a strong focus on family and friendships, I highly recommend adding Karen Hawkins’ The Book Charmer to your reading list.
New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins crafts an unforgettable story about a sleepy Southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.
Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.
If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.
“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself. Prepare to fall under its spell.