The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks
Sourcebooks, 2015; 400 pp
Reviewed by Juliana Amir


“The infinite complexity of the universe can be boiled down to two simple forces—pushing and pulling, creation and destruction. And the war between the two is evident in even the tiniest interactions.”

What do you do when letters begin appearing in your mailbox, and it turns out your new curmudgeonly pen pal has been dead for over seventy years? In The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, Annie, a reserved young woman with a big heart, finds that her life has become enchanted with the help of a magical, time traveling door.

This is one book where, if you were to stop after the first twenty pages, you’d have cheated yourself of something special. The beginning bounces from perspective, location, and time, introducing several mysteries rather jarringly. I wondered what I had gotten myself into, but as I kept reading this imaginative world connected in unexpected ways, pulling me in with concern for Annie, her friends, and the secrets they all carry.

Wilbanks’s novel introduces a number of broken misfits and tying them together is Annie. In her twenties, she acts older than her age with proper vintage clothing and tea parties that would make the Victorians proud. But she is more than her eccentrics. She is a journey unraveling. Following Annie, someone who was orphaned, a little broken, but with a lot of fight, shows you what an extraordinary thing it is to lead a lemoncholy life.