Season of the Dragonflies (12 August 2014) by Sarah Creech

Season of the Dragonflies: A NovelSeason of the Dragonflies: A Novel by Sarah Creech

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I would like to thank William Morrow publishers for this advance review copy of Season of the Dragonflies, by Sarah Creech.
Season of the Dragonflies is the story of the Lenore women, Willow, the mother, and her two daughters, Mya and Lucia. They are heirs to a continuing legacy of a very special perfume; one which fully amplifies any talents that the wearer may already possess. Though the Lenores are millionaires, they live humbly in the Blue Ridge Mountains, cultivating the magical flower that is at the essence of their very special scent. However, when the flowers begin to lose their power for the first time ever, the Lenore women are faced with a crisis that may be the end of their idyllic world.
Season of the Dragonflies is being compared to southern confections by authors such as Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen. With its strong female cast, theme of natural magic, and focus on romance, I can see clearly where the comparison arises.
Having read The Peachkeeper by Sarah Addison Allen, and seen the movie Practical Magic, based on that novel by Alice Hoffman, I would guess that if you enjoy fiction by these authors, you will be well pleased with Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech.
However, I found myself frustrated and disappointed with this novel for several reasons. First of all, despite the moniker “magical realist” which has been applied to this novel (and those of Sarah Addison Allen), I feel that this comparison does a disservice to that term.
Having studied the magical-realist novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende at university, I believe that as works of art, they have a profound, if subtle, difference from novels such as Season of the Dragonflies. Magical Realism is by definition difficult to define, in fact, Mexican critic Luis Leal stated “If you can explain it, then it’s not magical realism.” And this is, in fact, where I see the problem with Season of the Dragonflies.
In the novels of Garcia Marquez and Allende, the magical elements are ambiguous, difficult to capture, without logic, and seem to point to a great inexplicable reality beyond themselves. In Season of the Dragonflies, the magic that exists has a logical, understandable framework. The flowers consistently produce a certain positive result. The Lenore women use them in order to make money, and to help actresses and politicians succeed. The magic in Season of the Dragonflies lends an extra, fairytale element to what might otherwise be a rather generic, over-dramatic, romance novel.
In the novels of Garcia Marquez and Allende, the magical realist elements are inextricably intertwined with the ordinary in such a way that the novel itself references mysterious ideas that are difficult to capture with words alone.
Another thing that frustrated me in Season of the Dragonflies was that several of the characters are just plain unlikeable, as they selfishly “play god” with their gifts, and interfere with the lives of others. I also found the over-the-top sexuality a bit of-putting. And finally, I found the narrative voice confusing, as it seemed like we were privy to all the characters’ thoughts and feelings simultaneously.
In the end, Season of the Dragonflies is not a realistic novel, nor is it truly a magical realistic read. However, it serves up a dose of romance, melodrama, and magic, and will offer light escapism to anyone who reads it.

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