Review: First Frost

By: Sarah Addison Allen

First Frost: A Novel by [Allen, Sarah Addison]

Available on: Amazon, Audible, and Barnes and Noble.


Blurb: This is the follow up novel to Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells; set ten years after the first book, it shows the lives of the Waverley family as they await the blooming of their magical apple tree at the first frost of autumn.

Trigger Warnings:

Bullying, Death, Food, Infidelity (mentioned)

Body Count: 0

Overall review:

  • Thoughts:
    • First Frost, while technically a sequel to Garden Spells stands on its own merits. It’s an engaging, lighthearted read about the Waverley clan, their minor magical talents, but more about their strength as a family unit. The story is all about the brief and tumultuous week before the first frost, when the magical Waverley apple tree will bloom again. Young Bay is just on the cusp of adulthood, fifteen and sure of her ability as a Waverley. Sisters Claire and Sydney have their own minor troubles, but nothing they can’t weather together. I, as always, enjoyed the author’s definitive voice. Ms. Allen has a way with describing the ordinary magic and colorful lives of her characters that it seems quite possible to meet them on the street.
  • Was it engaging?
    • Yes
  • Favorite Character:
    • I know it’s weird, but the apple tree is my favorite character, followed closely by Waverley house.

Rating out of five: 4.0 out of 5

To Read or Not To Read (Again):

On the Bookshelf

The Technical Specs:

  • Series
    • Series Name: Waverley Family
    • Book Number: 2 of 2
  • Genre
    • Technical Genre: Mother & Children Fiction, Magical Realism, Women’s Domestic Life Fiction
    • Theo Genre: Chick Lit, Magical Realism, Feminist Fiction, Witchy Fiction
  • Page count: 305 pages
  • POV: Limited 3rd
  • Publication information:
    • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-13: 9781250190970

Representation, Morality, and Sexism in Media Tests:

  • Bechdel–Wallace Test: PASS
    • Do two female characters talk about something other than a male character?
  • Deggan’s Rule Test: FAIL
    • Are there at least two non-white human characters in the main cast in a story not primarily focused on race?
  • DuVernay Test: PASS
    • Are there fully actualized characters of color?
  • Ellen Willis Test: PASS
    • Would two related characters still work to carry the story if their genders were reversed?
  • Hays Code: HALF PASS
    • Part One: outdated moral guidelines-Pass
      • Are there any outdated “moral content” rules gloriously kicked in the teeth by this story? Murder, happy queer characters, profanity, etc.
    • Part Two: queer representation -Half Pass
      • Are there queer characters that get a happy ending? Sort of.
      • Do the queer characters die? Nope
    • Part Three: age and agency:-Pass
      • Is there an illegal or otherwise distasteful age gap between characters, queer or otherwise? No
  • Mako Mori Test: PASS
    • Is there a female character that gets her own arc?
  • Mary Sue/Gary Stu Test: PASS
    • Is the main character completely flawless and persecuted by other characters needlessly?
    • Take a Mary Sue test here!
  • Sexy Lamp Test: PASS
    • Would the plot fall apart if the female character was replaced by a sexy looking lamp?
    • Post-It Note Caveat:
      • Would the character be able to be replaced by a Sexy Lamp with a sticky note on it for information conveyance?
  • Tauriel Test: PASS
    • Is there at least one woman in the story who is competent in her chosen occupation and not immediately shown up by a newcomer male character?
    • If she has or develops a love interest during the story, either implied or explicitly stated, does she suddenly abandon her job and/or chosen path to support or pursue said love interest?
  • Topside Test: FAIL
    • Are there two or more trans characters in the story that know each other and do they talk about anything other than medical transition procedures?
    • I acknowledge that most common media lacks decent trans representation.
  • Vito Russo Test: PASS
    • Is there a character on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum spectrum who is a character beyond their orientation and do they actually affect the plot and are something beyond a punchline?
      • What does that stand for? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual/Biromantic/Bigender, Transgender, Queer/Genderqueer, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender, Pansexual/Panromantic

Review format updated 25 February 2020

One thought on “Review: First Frost

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