Friday, 7 August 2015

The Lemoncholy of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks

The Lemoncholy of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks
Genre: Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy, Literary Fiction,
Time Travel, Contemporary

Pages: 400
Format: e-ARC
ISBN: 9781492612469

PublisherSourcebooks Landmark (Aug 4, 2015)
Source: Publisher/Netgalley

Annabelle Aster has discovered a curious thing behind her home in San Francisco--a letterbox perched atop a picket fence.  The note inside is blunt—trespass is dealt with at the business end of a shotgun in these parts!—spurring some lively correspondence between the Bay Area orphan and her new neighbor, a feisty widow living in nineteenth-century Kansas.

The source of mischief is an antique door Annie installed at the rear of her house.  The man who made the door—a famed Victorian illusionist—died under mysterious circumstances.
Annie and her new neighbor, with the help of friends and strangers alike, must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and somehow already did.

"Annie wandered past a weather-beaten signpost in the wheat field
where her backyard used to be. "

My Thoughts:
I really wasn't expecting The Lemoncholy of Annie Aster to be as good as it was.  I'd initially requested a review copy based on the gorgeous looking front cover, and intriguing title, but put it on the back burner to read later.  However the publisher asked me if I'd like to take part in a 'book tour' for the title and I said that I would.  I'm so glad the book leaped to the top of the list as I simply loved its charm and innocence from the outset.

The characterisation in The Lemoncholy of Annie Aster is fabulous. The characters are fabulously-drawn, and so vivid they are easy to picture as real people. I found them and the story totally charming and compelling.

The Lemoncholy of Annie Aster is set in two time frames, the present and the early 1900's.  It is a delightful tale about true friendships and finding your place in the world, with magic, time travel, a murder mystery, oh and a romance, or two along the way.  The Lemoncholy of Annie Aster had me reading well into the early hours and I just hated to put it down.

The characters are a mixed band of misfits, from Annie, a throw back to the Victorian era with a dress style and lifestyle to match; her best friend Christian an amnesiac with a severe stutter; Elsbeth the widower in Kansas to whom Annie corresponds via time-travel mailboxes; Cap'n, a street-wise urchin, and the dastardly Mr Culler with his psychotic sidekick Mr Danyer.

Annie, gets more excitement and adventure than she ever dreamed imaginable with her impulse purchase of an antique door she installs as her back door.  A door with magical properties ... a time travel portal passing through Annie's San Franciscan back yard to a wheat field in Kansas from a century before.

With help from her best friend Christian and some lively compatriots they meet along the way, they endeavour to solve the problematic mysteries which present themselves at practically every turn.

As for my favourite character I would find it difficult to choose between Annie, Elsbeth and Christian as they were all equally endearing and compelling in their own right.  I loved them all for their unique and peculiar traits: Annie for her vulnerability but no messing strength of character and drive, Elsbeth for her initial feistiness who then transforms into a caring motherly figure, and Christian for his sensitivity.  He is perhaps the most complex character. Fiercely loyal to his friends he also a loner and lacks confidence in himself and is torn about what he should do regarding his personal relationships. Christian is definitely a character I'd like to know more about.

There are a number of supporting characters and so much going on that I had to, at times, give it my full attention or lose track of the relationships and events occurring due to the complexity of the story line.

The Lemonscholy Life of Annie Aster is a delightful, feel-good, heart-warming tale.  Thoroughly entertaining, and enchanting, it is the perfect Summer read.

I look forward to seeing what Scott Wilbanks comes up with next. Another instalment of Annie Aster perhaps, but whatever it is I'm sure it'll be another gem I'll not want to miss.

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of The Lemoncholy of Annie Aster was provided by Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

Images: Art work used with kind permission of Scott Wilbanks
1. Annie, 2. "Cap'n, before orphanhood", 3. Elsbeth's cabin and wheat-field.

About The Author: Scott Wilbanks graduated summa cum laude from The University of Oklahoma and went on to garner several national titles in the sport of gymnastics.

Scott's husband, Mike, is a New Zealander by birth, and the two split their time between the two countries while Scott is at work on his next standalone novel.

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