Lisa Van Allen’s “The Wishing Thread”- finding magic in the mundane

Van Allen’s The Wishing Thread follows the three Van Ripper sisters and their magical house in Tarrytown called the Stitchery. When matriarch Mariah dies, the three sisters must come together to decide what is best for their home and their family’s legacy as the stitch witches of the town, sewing spells for suspicious but desperate neighbors.

Aubrey, the sister who stayed at home, is shy and reserved, but has the most power for knitting spells and the token mark of the Van Ripper legacy, which she has embraced fully. Bitty, the oldest sister, is strong and charismatic, but suspicious of magic and her own family’s need to be weird. The youngest sister Meggie is a free spirit on a quest to find answers that no one in her family has provided her, but keeps her search a secret under the guise of gypsy-like travel. The three come together for arrangements and don’t plan a long reunion, but Mariah threw a curveball in her will to strengthen their bond.

All three sisters have obstacles that they must confront in order for them to grow. Aubrey must learn that her legacy as the stitch witch does not take away from her living a full life, complete with love, Bitty must learn to stand up for herself and her children from a loveless marriage, and Meggis must learn to trust her family that she feels betrayed her. the threads that bind sisters always start strong, but sometimes those threads fray with age. Can these sisters re-knit their lives together, and in turn, become a family again?

I originally picked this book up because I love Sarah Addison Allen and the entire concept of Magical Realism, and this book didn’t disappoint. While it is a little more heavy-handed than Allen, the story was still written beautifully and I could picture the world she built. The relationship between the sisters reminded me of Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters, which while enjoyable was a little stereotypical in portraying the roles of oldest, middle and youngest. The romance that Aubrey experiences is one of my favorite aspects of this, as well as Bitty’s children.

My only issue with Wishing Thread is more of a personal problem than anything. I don’t enjoy knitting, and this put a damper on my reading. Again, a stupid personal problem while reading a book all about stitching and knitting spells. I hope this doesn’t discourage others from reading it; I did really enjoy everything else about it! I would definitely recommend to magical realism lovers and even knitting lovers, because the love of threadwork is embedded deep in here.

Four waves out of five for lovers of knitting or magic, but probably three for others. This is not a book to “crack” into the genre, more of one that falls comfortably into it.


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