I’ve loved novels with elements of magical realism since before I was old enough to understand what the term meant. While Hogwarts, Narnia, and Middle Earth all have vast allure, there’s something bewitching about the idea of the magical in our own mundane world. Susan Bishop Crispell’s The Secret Ingredient of Wishes (Thomas Dunne Books) tells the story of Rachel Monroe, a 26-year-old who discovers at a young age that she has the ability to grant wishes. Unfortunately, her first experiences with her remarkable ability have disastrous consequences, and she grows up afraid of her own powers.
For years, Rachel is able to avoid her gifts, until she attends the birthday party for her best friend’s daughter. She inadvertently grants the child’s birthday wish, and decides to flee town. She wants to escape from her powers, her past, and her own fears. Soon, she finds herself off the map and out of gas, only to find that she’s in “the town of Lost and Found”, Nowhere, North Carolina. She soon makes a network of friends in this charming town, including the baker, Catch, who has some powerful magic of her own. She bakes people’s secrets into pies—pretty cool, no? She takes her in, and for the first time, Rachel feels that she belongs with the people who surround her. And, of course Catch’s swoony neighbor Ashe, who has a tragic past of his own, is a nice bonus. But soon, Rachel is forced to accept her abilities and her past in order to build a future with the people she has come to love.
Crispell’s world is absorbing and her characters vibrant. I was transported by her skilled prose, and found that I’d lost hours in these pages without realizing how long I’d been reading. For someone in the business, that is a rare treat. A mix of mouthwatering description, heartwarming relationships, and believable emotional growth comes together in a genuinely impactful book. It’s certainly beach-read friendly, but there is a deeper message of self-acceptance that resonated with me. There is loads of southern charm in this wonderful escapist book, and is one that shouldn’t be missed.
The Secret Ingredient of Wishes is now available to purchase.
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ABOUT SUSAN CRISPELL:
Susan Bishop Crispell earned a BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Born and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, she now lives twenty minutes from the beach in North Carolina with her husband and their literary-named cat. She is very fond of pie and is always on the lookout for hints of magic in the real world. She is the author of THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (2016) and DREAMING IN CHOCOLATE (2018), which was a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Okra Pick for Winter 2018. Susan’s website: www.