A woman runs a magical chocolate shop in this heartwarming story from Crispell (The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, 2016).
Penelope Dalton and her mother, Sabina, run the Chocolate Cottage. They sell plenty of “regular” chocolate, but their most popular offerings include a little something extra: magic. Their special wares can make people dream about their futures and become temporarily happy or lucky. The magic comes from a mysterious cabinet that provides them with recipes for what they really need, like truffles that can mend a broken heart. But even though Penelope makes these chocolates, she doesn’t trust them. For all the magic her chocolate can produce, it can’t cure her daughter, Ella, who has an inoperable brain tumor. Ella doesn’t have long to live, so Penelope spends most of her time helping her check items off her bucket list—things like eating cake for breakfast and dyeing her hair purple. But a big distraction comes to town in the form of Noah Gregory, Penelope’s high school sweetheart—and, unbeknownst to him and everyone else, Ella’s dad. Under the hot chocolate’s spell, Penelope once dreamed that Noah was her true love—but when she told him so and he left town, she assumed the magic was wrong. Now that he’s back, Penelope has to juggle her feelings for him, her cynicism about the magic, and the desire to tell him the truth about Ella. All of this takes place in the charmingly named town of Malarkey, home to many quirky residents who love festivals and hold town meetings to mediate disputes—sort of like a fantastical version of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls. How the cabinet came to produce magical recipes is never really explained in detail, and most townspeople seem to accept the magic a little too readily. That’s forgivable, though, since the focus here is more on the fraught relationships between characters instead of the mechanics behind the magic. Readers looking for a feel-good story with a little bit of enchantment sprinkled in will eat this one up.
A pleasantly sweet tale about true love, fate, and family.