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Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: SPELLBOUND by Cara Lynn Shultz

Gotta say -- I wasn't expecting all that much when I started Spellbound.  Mostly because by the time I got around to reading it (thanks, Netgalley!), I'd forgotten what it was supposed to be about.  OMG - I was in for such an awesome surprise.  I loved this book.

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 Conner, 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.

Here's what's funny... since I was just coming off reading Always a Witch (and not remembering the premise), I kept thinking that Emma was going to be a witch.  About a third of the way through the book, when there was still no indication that Emma was going to cast a spell, I started wondering what was up.  Ok, as you can probably tell from the synopsis that I've just given you, Emma is not a witch, but she's been BOUND by a SPELL to love the same person life after life. The catch, of course, is that soon after finding her soul mate, she's doomed to die.

The book largely revolves around Emma and an unexpected friend trying to figure out why all the mysterious things are happening in her life. Exploding streetlight, necklaces with ancient meanings, etc. But there's also the chemistry with Brendan, who's a great guy (and totally hot). There were definitely some toe-curling romance scenes between the two of them. So on the global level, I loved the plot, since it combined romance/reincarnation/soulmates with mystery.

On the micro level, I also really liked how the book dealt with some serious teen issues.  For example, Emma has her reasons for not liking alcohol, but it doesn't make her such a prude that she refuses a beer when offered to her. She just acts in moderation, without being preachy, and in a way that I perceived as very realistic.  There's also a case of an almost-date-rape where the victim is further victimized following the attack. I loved how Emma stood up to the bully (even if that wasn't her smartest move ever) and how we got to see some realistic high school drama and rumors.  I know these can be touchy subjects in YA, but they happen and I think it's good to see them portrayed realistically.  Certainly the alcohol wasn't glamorized, but it wasn't ignored either.  I thought it was very well-done.
Overall, I give Spellbound 4 out of 4 Greek coins -- an OMG! rating.  If you love reincarnation and romance and all that good stuff like I do, I think you'll also fall pretty hard for this book.  I'll be anxiously awaiting the sequel next year!

Added bonus -- Cara Lynn Shultz is an absolute sweetheart on twitter.  So start following her.


khashway said...

Great review! I'll definitely check this out.

Courtney Koschel said...

Awesome review, Jessie! Can't wait to check it out.

Catherine Stine said...

The premise sounds refreshingly different. I like the setting, and sequence of odd events.

Ezmirelda said...

Great review Jessie! My thoughts on the book were really similar to yours.

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