>Elena Yates Eulo and Samantha Harper Macy – The Two Sisters’ Cafe

In my haste to start reading The Two Sisters’ Cafe, sent to me complementary from the authors, I misread the one sentence synopsis on the front cover.  I thought it read
An adult fantasy of two magical godmothers, an enchanted Southern Cafe, and the second chance so many of us yearn for
So I geared myself up to read a quest fantasy along the lines of J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, etc.  After the first 20-30 pages, it was clear that was not what I was reading.  I turned back to the front cover to try and figure out what was going on.  Sure enough, I misread the sentence.  The synopsis actually reads
An adult faerie tale of two magical godmothers, an enchanted Southern Cafe, and the second chance so many of us yearn for
It seems to me now that the word fantasy definitely doesn’t belong if I had paid attention to the rest of the sentence.  As it turns out, I am also a big fan of faerie tales and so read the book just the same.
The book features 2 mysterious fairy god mothers and a young girl, Sarah, who they take to be their apprentice.  As the synopsis says, the book is about giving people second chances.  There are about 5 or 6 smaller stories and one main story flowing throughout the book of people requiring second chances.  In all the cases, the fairy god mothers with the help of their apprentice, through some divine magic, is able to turn back time to allow the characters to redo some major event in their past.
Now let me start with the good I liked about the book: good pacing, appropriate language, and an easy read style.  For an extremely slow reader such as myself, all these are very crucial and allowed me to finish the book in a relatively timely manner.  Unfortunately, that did not mean I enjoyed the book.
In my opinion, there are structural flaws in the book.  Fairy tales, as we all know, always take place in a far off land and their tales happen to people unknown to us.  That is precisely part of the magic of a fairy tale.  As such, any magic that occurs in tales are a given and understood to be true within the story.  Nothing has to be explained.  Nobody ever asks where the queen in Snow White got a talking, magical mirror that always told the truth, for example.
In the case of The Two Sisters’ Cafe, it is set in a very identifiable place and time – 1950s in a small town in the southern United States.  I don’t believe for a minute that the authors thought there were fairy god mothers roaming around in the 1950s in the United States, so their presence with their magical powers needed some explanation.  However, no satisfactory explanation is ever given.  We are simply told that the god mothers or the sisters as they are called in the book came from a different world and a different time; this particular stop on Earth was simply one part of their journey.
The magic that the sisters possess and use is definitely not a given because the townspeople are unaware of their abilities.  One way the sisters hide their abilities is to make the people directly affected by their magic to think everything was a dream.  This is a very lazy way to deal with the situation in my opinion.  Also, what about all the other people involved in the lives of these people?  If you go back and change an event that happened in the past, how do you account for everything that has happened since that event?  Parallel universes where the apprentice herself has no idea she is entering different universe?
That leads me to another flaw of the book: different worlds.  Tolkien mentions how primary worlds and secondary worlds should be completely different, but he was referring to fantasies so I’ll leave that discussion out.  What I am concerned about is how The Two Sisters’ Cafe mentions all these other worlds but never actually gives us any details about them.  On more than one occasion, Sarah enters the Fairy World, but we are never told what the Fairy World is other than there are maybe a dozen fairies living in there with a fairy queen.  It’s just like when Sarah describes the fairy queen as “the most beautiful women ever” and yet all we know is that the fairy queen has long hair.  Yes I understand this is a convention used by almost all fairy tales, but it’s not very appropriate for a 300+ pages long novel.
Following along this theme of not giving any explanations, one of the most annoying things in the book is evident when Sarah, the apprentice, even says that the sisters, instead of explaining things, leaves it to her to ponder.  And then of course the explanation is never mentioned.  When Sarah gets confused about certain aspects of magic and she asks the fairy queen, the fairy queen replies, “No further questions.  We are running out of time”.  The words cop out come to mind.
At times in the book the scene transitions seemed to be sloppy.  In one particular scene Sarah was furious with the sisters and refused to leave her bedroom.  Suddenly in the next scene, maybe 5 minutes after in book time, Sarah is waltzing downstairs into the kitchen and as joyous and happy as ever.  No explanation is given to this change in mood.  At other times scenes seemed to be thrown into the mix haphazardly.  Like in one particular scene Sarah is a………….squirrel?  There did not seem to be any need for the scene other than to show that Sarah knows magic.
One thing of minor importance that kind of bothered me was how the sisters are clearly witches, but they laughed at the idea of having top hats, brooms, and cats.  And yet they used wands, cauldrons, and crystal balls.
I understand I may have taken this book and this review too literally, but yeah, the stories told didn’t inspire me as much as it might someone else.
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