Library Journal (starred)
"Small-town witch looks for her replacement. The precise significance of Autumn's residence in the village of Avening isn't clear until the end, but it's evident from the beginning that she loves her quirky town (the novel's most appealing element) and all its mysteries. Located on an island in the Pacific Northwest, Avening is one of those idyllic spots with cozy bookstores and cafes- and, in this case, a rather high proportion of residents with special gifts: astral projection, mind-reading, invisibility, spell-casting, that sort of thing. Though individual abilities are generally kept secret, and the town seems like any other, all that magice lends the air a certain electricity. When a sister in the ancient coven of Jaen comes to tell Autumn it's time to leave her post, she's given a list of Avening residents from which she must choose a coven of 13 and a leader. Ellie seems an unlikely prospect. Withdrawn and sometimes invisible (literally) to the town, she is overtaken by a spell at the annual winter solstice party and loses the ability to speak, from that point on singing everything she needs to say. Ellie's friend Stella has a more straightforward talent. The granddaughter of an Appalachian mountain woman, she keeps a fully stocked herb cellar and is attempting to catch lightening in a bottle. Ana has until now lived a life without magic, but she goes to Autumn for help when she begins an extramarital affair; she and her lover learn how to bend time and memory so as to extricate themselves from their messy situation. Piper, another candidate, is diagnosed with terminal cancer and begins travelling to a different dimension, where she might escape death. A charming debut in the tradition of Practical Magic and The Witches of Eastwick"
"Autumn has been the resident sage of the town of Avening for longer than anyone can remember (some may call her a witch or a shaman, but really she is no more of an oldfashioned wise woman). When Autumn is called to find a replacement, she decides to hold an essay contest for would-be candidates.
While the entries themselves prove to be both surprising and illuminating, this is not merely the story of Autumn finding her replacement-it is also a multifaceted tale of the women (and in some cases, girls) vying to take over for their beloved Autumn. Each candidate's specific experiences unveil-or in some cases, release-the power that is deep within each of them. Above all, this magical book is a testament to the power of women. There is a great preponderance of beautiful people in the book-almost all of the women are striking, and you start to wonder if there must be something in the Avening water. But beyond that, Foster's overall message is clear: each of us has a gift. Whether we choose to exercise it or how we choose to do so is ultimately up to us. Foster has a facility for the poetic, and her characters feel comfortable and real from the beginning. When Autumn Leaves is a fantastical coming-of-age story, but mostly, it reminds us of the importance of faith-both in ourselves and in that which we cannot see."