SPELLBOUND by Cara Lynn Shultz
YA - Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 2011 by Harlequin Teen
IndieBound / The Book Depository / Goodreads / Amazon
What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?Wow! I started reading this book this afternoon and never stopped. It’s not my usual fair, with the otherworldly, supernatural bits, but the cover drew me in. I’m so glad I took a glance at the words. The story is, at heart, about a girl finding her way in a new (to her), completely believable place (good ‘ole New York City). It’s like reading a contemporary YA and coming across a dash of unexplained magic here and there. There’s just enough to make it interesting and unexpected, without being a turn off to someone like me (read: a girl who leans toward the real world when she’s selecting her books). There’s a centuries long curse and a witch, right alongside high schoolers hanging out on the steps of The Met and sneaking into a bar to listen to a friend’s terrible band.
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.
Honestly, I was hooked after the first sentence. "It's always embarrassing to have someone take you to school. Your dad, your mom, anyone with her hair in rollers." It sets the tone for the main character, Emma, and her voice throughout the book. She’s funny, smart, and tough, and you’ll want her to be your BFF.
I have to admit, I was completely bewitched (see what I did there?) by Brendan. He’s rich, privileged, very good looking, and grew up with his own floor in a fancy house in NYC, so it would be easy to be annoyed by him. Instead, he's smart, and sweet and unaffected and just tough enough to be interesting. He’s one of those classic, insta-fave YA boys, for sure!
My only real complaint is that I ended up missing a disappearing friend. Early on, Emma establishes an insta-friendship with a boy named Cisco and he’s all but entirely absent once THE BOY is in the picture as a full-on love interest (and it’s not because he was jealous or tossed aside, that’s not the kind of friendship they had). I missed him and their easy camaraderie and wish he could've been worked into solving Emma's big problem to keep him around.
I’ve seen some criticism floating around about how Emma’s life revolves around the boy as soon as she sees him, but it’s not a complaint I share. First, it is a teen romance, so what else is it supposed to revolve around? Mostly, I think her single-mindedness fits with her story. Early on, her crush reads like a typical high school girl. Her super cute cousin, Ashley, swoons along with her while they share play-by-plays of their interactions with their respective crushes and drool over hot boys playing basketball after school. Later, she’s facing a huge obstacle that could take him, and everything, away from her. Can’t say I think she should be taking it lightly!
This is a must-read for fans of romance, those that like a little magic in their YA and my fellow contemporary fans that are willing to take a chance. I'm actually caught off guard by how much I enjoyed this story, so definitely give it a shot!
Thanks to NetGalley & Harlequin Teen for providing me with a digital copy. I’m going to have to buy my own when it’s out, so I can read it again!