The Book Charmer
by Karen Hawkins
Release Date: July 30, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Book #1 in the Dove Pond series
Number of Pages: 368
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Fiction M/F
Read 7/13/19 to 7/15/19
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.
Honesty time…I would have been interested in this book just judging by its cover and title alone. No matter what the description says, I saw that title and wanted to get my hands on this story. This is a new-to-me author, but I was willing to take the risk on that cover art. It was like getting a bonus when I read the blurb and realized this book is right up my alley.
I don’t think I’ll be the only reader to fall in love with Sarah Dove from the very beginning. She’s precocious, funny, caring, kind, and loyal. While always thought of as a bit odd while she was growing up, she didn’t take fact that she wasn’t a “popular” kid to heart. She had her sisters, her neighbor and best friend Trav, and books. All grown up now, Sarah is still thought of as odd. But now it’s said with affection and love. This quirky town knows that Sarah has everyone’s best interest at heart and will do anything for anyone without even being asked.
Where Sarah stole my heart from the first, Grace broke my heart in the beginning. And kept breaking it over and over. So much pent-up sorrow and pain! I even wanted to get mad at her quite a few times and just couldn’t. The things that woman kept inside her whole life, the things she did for her sister their whole lives, the walls she put up to feel secure, all those things kept me from tipping over into anger.
The front end of this story moves quite slowly. I enjoyed getting to know Sarah, Grace, and Trav on their own before they interacted on too deep of a level. Yet it seemed to go on too long. There were brief interactions here and there, but nothing too meaningful for a good half of the book. On top of that, once everything finally started coming together in a bigger way it seemed to barrel toward the end. So, I felt a little cheated out of the upside to these relationships. Not only the Grace/Trav romance that was brewing, but also the Sarah/Grace friendship that developed. Since this is the first book in a series, I’m hoping to see more interaction with these characters in future stories.
Overall, I enjoyed this story quite a bit and will definitely be looking into reading some of this author’s earlier stories. In addition, I’m now invested in the small town of Dove Pond and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series. Hopefully we’ll see a Sarah/Blake romance!
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**