At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities

At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities

by Heather Webber
Genres: Fiction / Magical Realism
Published on August 1, 2023
Pages: 320
Format: eBook Source: Library

A mysterious letter. An offer taken. And the chance to move forward.

When Ava Harrison receives a letter containing an unusual job listing one month after the sudden death of her ex-boyfriend, she thinks she’s being haunted. The listing—a job as a live-in caretaker for a peculiar old man and his cranky cat in Driftwood, Alabama—is the perfect chance to start a new life. A normal life. Ava has always been too fearful to even travel, so no one’s more surprised than she is when she throws caution to the wind and drives to the distant beachside town.

On the surface, Maggie Mae Brightwell is a bundle of energy as she runs Magpie’s, Driftwood’s coffee and curiosity shop, where there’s magic to be found in pairing the old with the new. But lurking under her cheerful exterior is a painful truth—keeping busy is the best way to distract herself from the lingering loss of her mama and her worries about her aging father. No one knows better than she does that you can’t pour from an empty cup, but holding on to the past is the only thing keeping the hope alive that her mama will return home one day.

Ava and Maggie soon find they’re kindred spirits, as they’re both haunted—not by spirits, but by regret. Both must learn to let go of the past to move on—because sometimes the waves of change bring you to the place where you most belong.

I came across this book on a day when I was just aimlessly scrolling through my library’s Libby app. (Yes, I requested 18 books that day. Of course they will all show up at once no matter what the estimated time until ready says.)

I had never heard of this author but I thought I’d give it a try. Now I think I’m going to have to go back and read everything she’s written.

This is a Southern U.S. magical realism story. Ava has lived a very sheltered life in Ohio because of health problems when she was young. She’s better now but she still lives her life as if she wasn’t. Don’t do anything too strenuous. Keep to the routine. But when her ex-boyfriend died two months ago it shook her out of comfort zone.

She ends up in coastal Alabama to answer a job ad. She finds one of those small towns that only exist in books and Hallmark movies. The downtown is thriving. There is a group of happy people just waiting to embrace a newcomer.

She ends up working part time at a coffee shop and part time as a caretaker for the coffee shop owner’s father. Maggie thinks her father is having health or memory issues. He’s behaving strangely. Now this annoyed me a bit because she’s going on about dementia and it turns out that he is in his late 60s. From the discussion about him I’d have thought he was at least in his 80s. Maggie is also seriously messed up. Her mother drowned when she was child but Maggie is convinced that she’s just been missing for the last few decades. No one is telling her that she’s out of her blooming mind. She runs her mother’s coffee shop and refuses to update at all because it needs to be exactly as it was for when her mother comes back. This woman needed someone in her life to talk some sense at her years ago and she didn’t have it.

Waves of change should be welcomed, Maggie. They can uncover beauty and treasures untold.

Overall the story was cute. I like magical realism. There is the mystery of how Ava got the help wanted ad. There is an elderly woman who speaks prophecies and terrifies everyone in town. Maggie matches found junk to people who need that object.

Time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted

I agree. I quite enjoy wasting time.

I’ve already started a previous book from this author to keep diving into her stories of magic.