Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?
Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.
But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.
Spellbound is book 1 in an original and compelling YA paranormal series. Kind of witchy, but definitely packed with old legends, a mystery and a sweet forbidden romance.
This is told in the first person from Emma's point of view, and I loved her voice. There are so many quirky "inner monolgue" type sentences, that added a real level of personality to the story. She has had such a hard life up until the story begins with her moving into her aunt's house, but she has always come out fighting, and she is such a strong character. I liked that she sticks to her principles despite peer pressure, avoiding heavy drinking because of her expereinces with a drunken stepfather, and despite starting fresh at a new school she decides to befriend Angelique the outcast because she likes her, rather than the bitchy popular kids. I really liked her feistiness, and that she will always speak her mind, even if it leaves her by herself.
I loved the fact that there were so many different layers to the story. There are so many different elements to it- There is Emma's drama at high school, with creep Anthony hitting on Emma's cousin, but also the mysterious magical goings on outside of school. With streetlights smashing above her head as a warning to her of nearby danger there is always an underlying sense of suspense and mystery. It moves at the perfect pace to feel like there is always something going on, and some new twist or revelation, but it never felt rushed.
There are also stories within the story, as details of Emma's past lives are gradually revealed, and this gave it a real sense of an old fairytale retelling as well. Emma and Brendan meet and are inexplicably drawn to each other, but discover they are cursed to keep reliving the same tragedy over and over again. They hope that by them finding out about the curse they can take steps to arm themselves against history repeating itself again. There is a really dramatic finale that ties together the two threads of the storyline, both the contemporary one and the magical one.
This is a great book- it is very exciting, and had me gripped with tension, but is also such a powerfully beautiful love story incorporating an ancient curse, past lives, and magic spells, all within the setting of a bitchy private high school. I loved the fact that it was so funny as well- very wittily written, with sassy one liners that always made me chuckle. And I loved the vibrant mixture of the characters as well- all of Emma's friends and family had such a personality and substance to them, very strong characters that added an extra touch to the book. I loved quirky goth girl Angelique, and the matchmaking of Emma's new gay best friend Cisco.
Brendan the main guy is very crush-worthy, without the insta-love. Brendan is very sweet, mysterious and intelligent, and their relationship is built out of a curiosity about the other. The romance is very slow-building, and with plenty of ups and downs that initially leave Emma feeling very confused. When they eventually stop dancing around each other, it feels like an actual honest relationship, and very endearing.
I won a US paperback copy of this book in a contest, but it is due to be published in the UK by Mira in September 2012. I loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series- Spellcaster next.
Next in the series: