SPELLBINDING by Maya Gold
Author: Maya Gold
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Format: ARC (Received copy for an honest review)
Publisher: Scholastic Point.
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Recommended Reading: AGE+ 15
Contains no spoilers[divider top=”0″]
OVERALL THOUGHTS: An interesting story about a young girl struggling to find her way in the world, only to find out she is a descendent of the Salem Witches. This mystical tale balances magic, history and real teen strife pleasingly, while including sensitive statements about bullying and tolerance. The story is easy to read and the characters, although sometimes frustrating in that snotty irrational teen way, are real. However, there are too many clichés to give it a perfect score. It isn’t literature that will leave you enchanted for years on end, but if a decent YA story with a subtle love that brews just below the surface is what you are in the market for, Spellbinding is a good choice.
SYNOPSIS: It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva–sixteen and nearly friendless–makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.
Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush–and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there’s Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.
A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history–and her heart–before she can face the powerful truth.[divider top=”0″]
THE LOWDOWN: This story immediately sucked me in. I loved the idea of pulling the Salem Witch Trials into a modern-day paranormal book. The paths this story could have taken were endless, unfortunately, the road the writer chose fell short. It wasn’t bad, in fact I liked it, but it could have been amazing and being teetering there on the precipice of greatness was such a disappointment.
The lead character was likeable…at first. I could relate to her struggles and even felt sorry for her. However, as the book moves forward she becomes progressively unlikable and it annoyed me. But as most editors/writers know, YA storytelling isn’t complete if it doesn’t have a redemptive lead. So of course the protagonist sees the err of her ways. There were other elements that were glossed over that I felt needed more attention. For instance, I would have loved to read more about the change in her family dynamic, perhaps some reasons for why the father is so cold or detached with regards to her. I also needed more intimacy with her friends so I could really feel the strain her personality changes put on her close relationships.
The romance was sweet and I felt the author did a good job of portraying the connection. I also loved the mean girls. They were as wicked as can be and it worked well in the overarching tie in with the Salem story. But what the writer really did well was incorporating the historical and mystical elements. From the little store that carries crystals to explaining how the accused witches of Salem were treated and eventually killed.
What ultimately knocked this story down a peg was the prom scene. As a tried and true Brian De Palma/King fan, I found this end scene trying a little to hard to mimic the magic from the book/movie that put telekinesis and terrifying prom scenes on the map. Further, the ending was rushed, finishing entirely too quickly and easily.
Overall, this is a good beach read that is short and sweet, but not knock the breath out of you, great.
My advice: Give it a try.