Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison AllenThe Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Published by Random House LLC on 2011
Pages: 292
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Emily Benedict has come to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew, she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor, Julia Winterson, bakes hope in the form of cakes, not only wishing to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also dreaming of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in. Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.

I’ve read a few Sarah Addison Allen novels now so I know what kind of stories to expect. I loved Garden Spells and Lost Lake but The Girl Who Chased the Moon fell flat. The book had many of the same elements of her other novels but I found that they weren’t executed as well.

I liked almost everything described in the book but I felt that Allen tried to put *too* much in the novel, so much that she couldn’t develop it all within its pages. That’s one of the major flaws–there are just too many things to explain. It’s fine that there are multiple main characters, that’s one thing Allen does best. Emily, Julia, and Win are very interesting and compelling. What Allen can’t do is keep up with how many moments of magical realism that she puts in the book: the Mullaby lights, the changing wallpaper, the baking “sparkle,” the giant. Allen privileges some (the “sparkle,” the giant) to the detriment of others (the wallpaper, the lights).

I really liked Julia’s story. It was touching and was classic Allen. I cheered her on from the moment her story began. Emily’s story, however, was different. I found Emily very annoying. She couldn’t believe anything that anyone told her. I understand that her mother was dead and that she didn’t want to believe the stories about her, but using denial/disbelief as a coping mechanism really didn’t work for me. The only reason why I tolerated Emily was because it meant we got to know her grandfather, Vance. He’s so charming. “The Giant of Mullaby” makes me think of my grandfather, who is a large man himself, and who seemed impossibly tall when I was a child.

The “big secret” is actually rather underwhelming. It let me down because I wanted the Mullaby lights to be something different—what, exactly, I don’t know. Just different.

As usual, Allen’s prose is gorgeous. But I think she tried to do too much in The Girl Who Chased the Moon so her quality of writing suffered.


© 2014 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.

  • Wow! That cover! I’m sorry you didn’t like it… It sounds promising and I haven’t read anything by this author, but maybe I’ll pick up something else by her!

    • JessicaWorkman

      It’s not that I didn’t like it. It’s that I didn’t like it as much as her other books. I think she just tried to do too much. Her prose is beautiful though. I can recommend all of her books (even this one).

  • Bookworm Brandee

    I’m sorry this one fell kinda flat for you, Jessica. I do like the sound of the prose, though. I have this one collecting dust on my shelf – I won’t rush to get to it. 🙂

  • This was I think my least favorite, and Garden Spells was my favorite. Wonderful review, regardless I love Allen.

    • JessicaWorkman

      I have to agree with you. I haven’t read The Sugar Queen or The Peach Keeper though so I can’t really rank them very accurately.