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 Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on September 6th 2016
Genres: Foodie Fiction, Magical Realism
26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown―and her past―behind for good.
Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina―also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.
As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love―and her chance at happiness―all over again.
Rachel Monroe is something of a modern day fairy godmother: she can make wishes come true. Whenever someone makes a wish, a slip of paper flutters down out of nowhere and as soon as she reads the words on the paper, their wish is granted. When Rachel was younger, one of her own wishes came true and it was terribly life changing and she vowed never to make any other wishes come true. That is, until the day her friends daughter wished for a unicorn and a pony with a sugar cone strapped to its head appeared on her doorstep.
Terrified that she’s going to cause everything to go wrong again, she packs a bag and leaves town immediately. She finds herself stranded and out of gas in a town in North Carolina ironically named Nowhere. Rachel is taken in by a kind elderly lady named Catch and meets a man named Ashe. Feeling like she’s finally found someplace to call home, she hopes that her wishes cease to plague her.
I am an absolute sucker for any book that manages to include tasty foods. Sure, the summary sounded all sorts of fluffy cute with the fun magical realism bits and a cutesy romance to get all swoony over that completely reminded me of a Sarah Addison Allen novel, but when it was all said and done I was really only thinking one thing:
I was so eager to get my hands on a copy of this because I was completely prepared to adore this one because it had everything I typically love. It really would have been great but there were far too many plot holes and aspects that continued to be distracting to the storyline as a whole. On top of that there was just a bit too much cheesiness for my liking. Let me explain.
So Rachel up and leaves her stable home and job because she made a wish come true. The story started off shockingly somber (not a spoiler — revealed within first 5%) when it’s revealed that the wish that Rachel made come true, that changed her life forever, was the wish that her little brother would disappear. And he did. Literally. Her parents completely forget he ever existed, he was erased from every photograph, even the door to his bedroom disappeared like there was never a room there to begin with. Every last trace of him, gone. Rachel continues to insist she has a brother and she ends up getting institutionalized, her dad leaves the family, and her mother ends up committing suicide. For fucks sake.
So… moving on.
So Rachel up and leaves town and basically begins a new life in a new town thinking that people in a small town won’t have wishes or something. Personally, that just seemed a little drastic and far fetched to me. Especially since it’s not like she went out to live by herself in the boonies to get away from people whose lives she could potentially ruin or something. Suspension of disbelief is mildly required. I trudged on though, continuing to refocus on the important parts: the pie. Alas, the story continued to reveal itself as something akin to a Lifetime movie. Sorry, Lifetime movies just aren’t my thing. But we have the oh so perfect love interest, except he’s carrying some serious baggage. The townsfolk that go to great lengths (minus actual pitchforks) to run Rachel out of town. The mysterious person from Rachel’s past that knows everything and tries to blackmail her. The old lady that meets her and invites her to live with her the same day. There was just a lot of silly and unnecessary drama involved that was more far fetched than anything and really detracted from what could have been a really delightful story. All I know is, I didn’t sign up for all that. I came for the pie, dammit.
Honestly though, there is a ton of pie in this book and the descriptions will have you racing to the closest bakery. My favorite was by far the “salted chocolate tart with a potato chip crust. Drool. But holy hell, other than a single rib cook-off mentioned, pie is all this town seemed to eat. Then again, with all their daily drama, I’d probably eat nothing but pie too.