Monday, March 2, 2015

Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech

Reviewed by Jeanne

For four generations, the Lenore women have crafted scents. It all started back when Great-Grandmother Serena ran away with a handsome young man to the rainforest of Borneo and discovered a wondrous, magical plant which became the main ingredient—the very secret main ingredient.  These perfumes don’t just smell nice.  They enhance the strongest traits of the wearer, enabling her to rise to the top of whatever profession she is suited for. The scents are sold only to a select few, and never to those who would compete in the same profession.

The business has been passed down from mother to daughter until now.  A business which has thrived is now threatened from several sides.  Willow, the current matriarch, finds herself struggling to remember things.  Mya, the elder daughter, has always been considered the heir and has spent her life learning the trade at the expense of her personal life.  She is chaffing to take over from Willow’s control and may be willing to cross some lines to do it.  Younger daughter Lucia fled the business and the magic to marry an artist, but now that marriage is falling apart and she has nowhere to go.

Nowhere, that is,  but back home to the family farm in Virginia.  She dreads facing her mother and Willow, knowing she’ll be seen as a failure.  She’ll stay just long enough to decide what to do next. She has no idea that things are about to go very, very wrong.

In addition to the family tensions, a pop star client has reneged on her word and is threatening blackmail. Worst of all, the magical plants seem to be dying.  One way or another, it appears the company is doomed.

At its core, Season of the Dragonflies is a tale of mothers and daughters, sisters and suitors. It reminds me a bit of Sarah Addison Allen’s books with the blend of romance, family relationships, and magic.  It also seems to take to heart the motto “Virginia is for Lovers.”  The female characters are strong and interesting, ready to make their own choices instead of passively waiting.  Sometimes these choices are the right ones, but they accept the responsibility.  A sheen of magic shimmers through the book, from the perfume itself to the dragonflies that seem to follow Lucia to Mya’s deer.  Creech uses the Blue Ridge Mountain setting to good effect, tying the most of the characters closely to the land.  The male characters don’t have as much depth or personality, but then they are just the means to an end.  This is a fantasy, after all, and we just want to get to the “happily ever after.” 

This is a debut novel. I expect we’ll be hearing more from Ms. Creech in the future.

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