Heather Webber’s Midnight at the Blackbird Café (Tor-Forge 2019) is Southern magical realism novel of family and second chances that is as sweet as tea should be. If you liked The Book Charmer (Karen Hawkins, Dove Pond series), you’ll love this. It’s that same type of candy read, set in a sleepy Southern town with just a bit of magic and mystery. (Hart of Dixie meets Practical Magic.)
It’s a comforting sort of read because you know that everything is going to work out in the end. Broken hearts will mend. Prodigal daughters will return. Fragmented families will reconnect. And animal familiars will get things back on course.
Anna Kate Callow knew about Wicklow, Alabama, but her mother insisted she never set foot there. Her grandmother’s death, however, forces her to the place her mother had once called home. There, she confronts a town that had fiercely loved her grandmother. Anna Kate had intentionally been kept a secret from Wicklow, and especially the Lindens, and the town is rattled to learn of Zee’s heir.
Zee owned and operated the Blackbird Café. There, she baked pies with just a hint of magic. The blackbirds would sing messages into the pies, carrying messages from the dead to their loved ones in their dreams. She left the café to Anna Kate, with a couple of strings attached. Anna Kate is in town for just a couple of months to clear it up before medical school back up North.
Natalie Linden Walker has returned to her hometown after the death of her husband. Filled with rage for the man she’d loved and battling a lifetime of dealing with her cold, demanding mother, she needs answers and healing. With just a few years separating them and despite a lifetime of being told not to trust the Callows, Natalie forms a friendship with Anna Kate.
Birders have flocked to the town because word of the blackbirds has piqued their interest. They’re sitting up lawn chairs, tent cities, and breathing new life (and money) into the formally dying town.
Alternating between Anna Kate and Natalie, with brief sections of interviews with the town folk regarding the birds, the novel has an undeniable charm and ease. It smells like zucchini bread and fresh baked pies, and it feels like a hug and someone telling you to sit down and stay awhile.
It takes you home, and you’ll want to stay.
Read this book.