by Maya Gold
Published by: Scholastic
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.
I like witchy things especially those related to Salem, Massachusetts and witch trials, so I was excited and intrigued about the premise of Spellbinding. Gold offered a sweet, well-paced tale that I enjoyed but sadly will forget after writing this review.
The tale begins when we meet Abby Silva a sixteen-year-old suffering from nightmares, who is not part of any group at school; she simply exists. Like most teens, she has a crush on the star jock, hates her hair and longs to fit in. A school project, a trip to Salem, and strange occurrences lead her to believe she is a witch. The tale that unfolded was an easy, enjoyable read but sadly it was completely predictable and lacked depth.
I started out liking the characters and we catch glimpses of who they are, but no one was fleshed out leaving me disappointed. Abby is likable, and I felt for her as she dealt with the “mean girls”. Rem was sweet and mysterious but sadly underdeveloped. Travis had a little more depth but again I was left wanting. The characters fell into typical clichés with predictable behavior and never developed their own unique voice. What frustrated me, was that we caught glimpses of something more from all the characters. There is a love triangle, but not in the traditional sense. Abby has feelings for both boys; one is a crush and one is something new to her. Confused she was insanely immature and at other times sensible. Her behavior to me felt young and maybe that is because she is socially awkward. Her actions were more along the lines of what I would expect from a newly turned thirteen-year-old.
The world building had potential and ironically I breezed through the tale as it had an easy readability but the premise was cookie cutter in its ideas and the author failed to make them her own. I found myself frustrated and wanted more explanation, back history, and depth. Information and history presented themselves as statements and lacked any detail. At times I felt they were simply added to move from point A to B in the plot’s development. The villains are vaguely touched upon and never reached their potential. I quickly consumed this and was certainly entertained but I never fully slipped into this world. I honestly think this should be marketed for middle-grade readers.
Overall Spellbinding was a cute coming of age tale with a witchy twist geared towards a younger audience. The author has potential and I personally felt everything should have been expanded upon and the characters given their own unique voices. As written it reads more like an MG novel.
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