Review: The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks

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Annabelle Aster doesn’t bow to convention—not even that of space and time—which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.

Annie and Elsbeth’s search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery—and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and yet somehow already did.

A thoroughly charming book about a group of misfits who become involved in a time bending mystery that requires them to set right a murder. While they can’t change the events of the murder itself, they are determined to make sure the nefarious Ambrosius Culler, a thoroughly evil man, is held responsible for his crimes. While they characters are quirky and some would be called eccentric, they’re not cloying and seem realistic in spite of their oddities. Elsbeth is a cranky but lovable elderly woman while Annie is a woman seemingly out of place in her own time with her love of antiquities and general odd things. The possible issues that come with writing a book where there is a lot of timeline skipping around is avoided by the author and nothing really glaringly stood out as a plot hole. Perhaps some of the characters were far more clever than they had a right to be, but the end result was a book that was alternately a good mystery as well as a heartfelt story about a group of people who just didn’t fit in, be it in 1890s Kansas or in the 1990s.

4 out of 5

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