South of the Buttonwood Tree [Book Review]

October 16, 2020

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber (cover) Image: white text over a background of a buttonwood tree closeup

Genre/Categories: Southern Fiction, Magical Realism, Family Drama

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Blue Bishop lives in the charming small town of Buttonwood, Alabama, and she has a sixth sense for finding lost things. The magical buttonwood tree in the woods is important in the community because people can leave their life questions in a rabbit hole of the tree and the next day the tree will leave an answer for you. One day as Blue is walking in the woods, she discovers an abandoned baby south of the magical tree. In solving the mystery of the abandoned baby, long-held secrets are revealed, lives are altered, and family is redefined.

looking upward through the branches of a buttonwood tree

A Buttonwood Tree

My Thoughts:

Writing: I thoroughly enjoyed the lyrical writing in South of the Buttonwood Tree. Easy reading, straight forward, and full of southern charm, the story is also poignant and compelling with a likable main character. I appreciate the format the author uses to intersperse the viewpoints of the town folk by featuring brief conversations of people approaching the judge with their opinions. This shows an involved and caring small town community and gives background information about Blue without introducing an overwhelming number of characters. Heather Webber’s lyrical writing includes a great deal of personification which I think adds to the charm and overall friendly tone of the story.

“…trouble skipped into town with the breeze, jarring awake sleepy springtime leaves on the massive oaks and sky-high hikories. It scraped parched dirt, sending dust skittering along the trail like it was running for cover. It whistled its warning…”

Setting: The small southern town of Buttonwood includes a bookstore! Of course, this becomes an important setting. Bookish conversations and a mysterious new owner enhance the romance elements of the story.

Likable Character: I’m especially fond of likeable characters….to me these are characters who are determined and brave, show perseverence, and are kind. Even with a less than ideal childhood, Blue Bishop is a survivor and definitely a likeable character. As she uses her giftedness to find lost things for others, she realizes that she also might be missing something dear in her own life.

What I Wish: This could have been a solid 4 or 4.5 Star read for me except for a couple of concerns that I need to note (which are entirely personal preference). I’m Ok with a little magical realism….not my favorite….but a little is fine; however, South of the Buttonwood Tree includes more magical realism than I prefer. Blue finds lost things (the wind leads her), Sarah Grace hears the thoughts and feelings of houses, and Marlo dances by the moonlight and uses the energy to heal others. Readers who do not mind magic or allusions to witchcraft will likely enjoy these parts of the story more than I did. Despite my preferences, this is still an enjoyable story and I was able to roll my eyes and skim over most of my objections without shelving it as DNF. ***I feel like a wet blanket having written this paragraph….it’s the dark side of writing honest reviews. For balance, I encourage you to read this positive review from Sandy @ Sandy’s Book a Day Blog. (I notice we used the same quote, Sandy!)

Recommended: Even with the above content consideration, I can recommend South of the Buttonwood Tree for readers who enjoy gently told southern fiction and for those who appreciate a mostly light, heartfelt story with family drama and secrets, a likeable main character, and thoughtful themes of forgiveness, love, and caring community.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars

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South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber (cover) Image: white text over a background of leaves from the buttonwood tree

South of the Burronwood Tree Information Here

Meet the Author, Heather Webber

Author Heather Webber

Heather Webber (aka Heather Blake) is the author of more than twenty-five novels and has been twice nominated for an Agatha Award. She loves to read, drink too much coffee and tea, birdwatch, crochet, and bake. She currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and is hard at work on her next |


Is South of the Buttonwood Tree on your TBR or have you read it?

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  1. A fair and balanced review. Thanks for the link to my review. I can’t help but think that your review still comes down on the right side of positive. I don’t always appreciate the ‘magic’ component in books, but in this case I thought it worked in well. 😉❤

  2. I enjoyed your thoughtful review of this book. I found it beautifully written and liked the characters but when it all came together I had an overwhelming sense of sadness despite the “happily ever after” ending. It may have just been reading it during these stressful times. I really loved the first book but felt a little let down by this one. I also felt, like you, there was a little too much magical realism-perhaps if only Blue had the magic? My feelings about this one will not keep me from reading another book by this author.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sharon! I did enjoy the writing! This is my first by this author…I’m curious if her others contain as much magic? I like your thought about limiting the magic to Blue…that would’ve worked better for me!

  3. I am okay with Magical Realism if I am in the right mood for it and am prepared for it. It does sound like a beautifully written story. I enjoyed Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, so am pretty sure I will like this one as well. Nice, honest review Carol. I am glad you still enjoyed it, even if there were some things you were not crazy about.

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