I absolutely fell in love with Heather Webber’s recent novel Midnight at the Blackbird Café. It’s magical, layered, whimsical, and moving, with fabulous characters and a well-imagined setting.
Read on to find out WHY this book has captured my heart.
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of the book; all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on my link and buy something, I might earn a small commission from the advertiser at no additional cost to you.
Published by Tom Doherty Associates on July 16, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Women, Magical Realism
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THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER Heather Webber's Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe is a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm.
Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.
It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.
As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.
My Thoughts on Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe
Midnight at the Blackbird Café is a magical book (and not just because it’s contemporary fiction with a dash of magical realism/fabulism). This is a story that will slowly reel you in and leave you wishing you could pay a visit to the Blackbird Cafe.
The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Natalie and Anna Kate, who discover their own connection while on separate journeys of self-discovery and forgiveness.
Anna Kate arrives in Wicklow after the death of her Granny Zee, the owner of the blackbird cafe. One of Zee’s stipulations was that Anna Kate stays for the summer before she makes her decision on whether to sell the cafe or stay. She takes over the running of the cafe and prepares the Blackbird pie that the cafe is famous for. However, it takes a while for Anna Kate to discover the secret to making the pie so the magic happens, and in doing so, she discovers how important it is that someone from her family runs the cafe. This need conflicts with the promise she made to her mom that she would become a doctor.
Natalie has also recently returned to Wicklow after the death of her husband. She’s still working through her grief while looking after her precocious daughter, and living on her parent’s property – perhaps a little too close to her overbearing mother and sweet father.
What I loved:
Heather Webber does an amazing job of establishing a sense of place, and embuing the story with a bit of wonder. You’ll fall in love with Wicklow, Alabama, just like everyone else in the book who visits there (and who tend never to leave), or so the town legend says.
Everyone, that is, except for Anna Kate’s mom, who left and vowed to never return.
Wicklow is full of wonderful characters and author Webber does an excellent job creating wonderful and flawed and quirky characters. The main characters are faceted and real, and even a few of the secondary characters experience growth or change in some manner.
This book has so much magic: the trees behind the cafe are home to blackbirds that are NOT indigenous to North America. But their simple presence in Wicklow is not the only thing special about them- they only fly at night, midnight, to be exact, and it doesn’t happen every night. The trees have their own special magic, and it’s all connected – the trees, the birds, and Anna Kate’s family. The blackbird pies offer special magic to its eater. And there is a very quirky strong-willed stray cat who pops up all over town.
The story was more complex than I was anticipating. While this is a story about family, about being held to promises that don’t speak to your own heart, about forgiveness, it’s also one about grief and the many ways it manifests and how we deal with it.
This is a book with heart and whimsy and love and forgiveness, and it gave me all the feels. The story is layered and it really snuck up on me, resonated, and followed me around for a while after. If there is a certain kind of book I come back to again and again, this is that kind of book.
Perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen, Amy Reichert, and Kelly Harms, I’m giving Midnight at the Blackbird Café five big stars and a space on my bookshelf. It’s a keeper.
If you liked Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, you might like:
The Matchmakers of Willow Bay, by Kelly Harms, found in my fall roundup here: