When we first meet Autumn, all we know is that her time in the tiny town of Avening is almost up. And not only does she have to leave this charmed village, where the solstices are celebrated with community-wide events, she also has to find someone to replace herself as the spiritual leader of the community — not an easy task. And while we see Autumn and learn from her throughout this story, much of the novel is the stories of these other women, the candidates, all with powers of their own that may or may not be the right fit.
The spirit that hangs over the town of Avening is a lovely backdrop to this story of searching and self-examination. Like a blanket of magical realism, the abilities of the characters in this book create a framework that dares the reader to deny the power of the Earth or its seasons, or that there are those among us who are able to harness that power.
I appreciated the depths of its themes: death and love, parenthood and self-doubt. One scenario, about falling in love with someone who is not your spouse, was hard to read, but it was resolved in an intriguing way. The verdict? It was tightly written. It interested me. It made me cry once. It caught me off-guard more than once. I can’t put my finger on what didn’t make it perfect for me, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s a clever premise with a timeless message: there is more inside us than we think; it’s up to us to be willing to find it.
Rated: Moderate, for language and a sexual scene