Book Review: At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber

  • Title: At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities
  • Author: Heather Webber
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Magical Realism, Southern Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
  • Would I recommend: YES.


From the USA Today bestselling author of In the Middle of Hickory Lane comes Heather Webber’s next enchanting novel, At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities!

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.

My review:

Hi, have we just met? If so, then you might not know of my love for Heather Webber’s books. But if you’ve followed me for a bit, you know how I feel about her stories. Love, love, love.

Add another to the list to love!

Ava Harrison has lived a sheltered life due to her health issues. She’s also wracked with guilt over the death of her boyfriend, Alexander. She feels like it was her fault he was hit by a car and killed. So when a mysterious letter with a job offer shows up, she wonders if he’s speaking to her from beyond the grave. In an uncharacteristically spontaneous move, she packs her things and heads to Driftwood, Alabama, hoping for an interview.

Maggie Brightwell is the proprietor of Magpie’s, the local coffee shop. In addition to serving great coffee, Maggie also matches people with the “curiosities” she keeps in the shop – little things she finds here and there that call to her. She has the uncanny ability to match people with the curiosities, giving them just the thing to spark interest in something they’d forgotten, or point them on a path they didn’t know they needed to travel.

When Ava arrives and inquires about the job, Maggie is taken aback. The ad Ava shows her is one she drafted, seeking a caregiver for her aging father. His behavior has been a little strange lately, and Maggie has concerns. But she’d then quickly discarded the listing. Yet here it is, in Ava’s hands. But Maggie thinks Ava will be good company for her father and hires her.

At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities is delightful. Warm, inviting, with friends you didn’t know you needed to meet. Ava and Maggie are both wonderfully written. Life has tossed them both some challenges, but they haven’t let those challenges break them. Maggie’s father is quite the character, and his cat Molly (who becomes Ava’s cat, because cats) steals the show at times. Estrelle seems very intimidating, and her gift of seeing tends to make people nervous. But behind that veil and that dour exterior, is she as scary as all that?

Ava and Maggie each have unresolved issues to deal with. Ava’s health has kept her cocooned from life. She desperately wants to be normal, not pitied because of her condition or looked at differently because of her extraordinary abilities. She’s also dealing with the guilt of Alexander’s death, wondering whether she could have – should have – done anything differently. Maggie has never quite come to terms with her mother’s disappearance. The coffee shop was her mother’s passion project, and she keeps the shop going like she’s expecting her mother to walk in and pick up where she left off. Can Maggie see that perhaps she’s been hanging on for the wrong reasons all this time?

This book has everything: learning to let go of the past, taking a leap of faith, dreams deferred and then realized, romance, and Webber’s trademark touches of magic and whimsy. There were also some plot twists that had me just agog. I love it when authors throw in surprises that I don’t see coming. I’d recommend it for anyone who loves a well-told story in a charming Southern environment with characters you can root for. And every time I see a butterfly now, I may pay it a little extra attention.

Five white butterflies from me!

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley and Tor/Forge Books. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books that I don’t actually like.

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