March 23, 2013

Review: Spellbinding

Title: Spellbinding
Author: Maya Gold
ISBN: 9780545433808
Pages: 272                          
Available: April 1, 2013
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

There's more than one way to be powerful . . .

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.

My Thoughts:

Now, I love a good witchy read. I mean, I really, really love one. I am always looking for one that brings a new twist into my reading, so I was excited when I saw this on Netgalley. I became even more excited when I saw that it takes place in Salem, MA, one of my favorite places to visit.

The one thing I enjoyed about the novel was that the plot was fast-paced. There was no lull. Gold took readers into Abby’s world and BOOM! We were off and going until the very end. With that said, I found the plot development uneven.

The novel’s story begins with a driving test, a trip to Salem, and almost ends in a ‘Carrie’esque way—at prom. Hence the uneven feel.

But I forgive the author for the uneven plot because I loved her protagonist, Abby. It’s Abby’s driving test that changes her life, and not in the typical teen “I’m free!” kind of way. Her driving test puts her on the radar of powerful elemental witches because she unknowingly casts. She does not understand what she sees, only that her car was in one spot and just make it to the curb to officially pass the driving test.

But Abby’s got ties to witchcraft. She has a relative that was an accused witch during the Salem Trials of 1692, and she wants to learn more about it. Okay, her teacher nudges her to find out more, but still. She travels to Salem originally to research her ancestor. Before she knows it, she has a job at a New Age bookstore, is casting a love spell on her crush, and has a mysterious stranger/crush in Rem.

I would have enjoyed the author going more in depth with Abby’s ancestor. The casting of the love spell is old hat. That happens in a lot of witchy reads, which I understand, but I am always looking for something fresh. While love spells are “safe” for the protagonist, they usually end in a mess. A mess I am accustomed to reading at this point.

It is in Rem that the author catches my intrigue. His interest in Abby will leave readers guessing. There is more to him than meets the eye, and there is a creep factor about him that will give readers a bit of hair-raising doubts as to his spot in Abby’s life. But I will reassure all of you—he is not giving Edward Cullen a run for his money. His intentions are true, and he is not secretly watching Abby sleep at night. That qualifies him for boyfriend material for sure.

But there is a small problem with Rem as boyfriend material.

Abby has a crush. His name is Travis, and his character reminded me of Brad Powell from the movie ‘Teen Witch’ (1989). It is on Travis that Abby decides to try her first official spell, and the outcome is pretty much what many of us would anticipate.

As a matter of fact, while I am typing this review, the entire book has the same feel as ‘Teen Witch.’ The two plots do not match, but the feel of the two does. If you’ve not seen the movie but love witchy reads, you should add it to your list.

While I loved Salem as a setting, I felt that the author could have really used this to her advantage. Salem could have become a character itself, bringing more intrigue into the storytelling. Instead, the author makes this character and plot-centered, but I still feel that the setting could have helped with the uneven feel of the plot. I think it’s because I’ve been to Salem several times and I love it there. I always love to see authors use this as a setting, and I am always sad when it doesn’t become a major part of the plot.

There were allusions to ‘Carrie’ throughout, and I loved Salem as a setting.

Instead of the typical witch doing witchcraft, Gold gives us elemental witches, ones that are seeking vengeance for wrongs of the past. There’s just one issue: they are missing one element. Enter Abby. In their eyes, she holds the key to their justice.

As a whole, I enjoyed ‘Spellbinding.’ I felt the author could have slowed the plot a bit toward the end, giving us two or three more chapters of development. This would have given the book a more “finished” feel.

I would recommend this book to all lovers of witchy reads.

What’s the best witchy read you’ve read in a while? Comment below and join the conversation.

Happy Reading!

-          The Hodgenator

1 comment:

  1. Chrys, the Hodgenator, I'm Hunter the Murphy and I tweet for @BPL (Bham Public Library). You said you and your class we're interested in participating in the Letter from Birmingham Jail Celebration, which is exciting. Would you please send me your class's info if you want us to add it to our website? My email is hmurphy @

    We would love to have you join us.

    Also, because it sounds like you and your fam enjoy Sci-Fiction, I wanted you to know about this great festival whose organizers are friends of BPL's. It's called the Alabama Phoenix Fest and it looks like a scream:

    I hope you're doing well. Thanks for your mention on Twitter. All best!



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