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.Paperback, 324 pagesPublished June 21st 2011 by Harlequin Teen
Three and a half stars: A novel with a curse, star crossed lovers and more.
Emma survived a rough couple of years. She lost her twin brother and mother in two years time. She was left living with her drunken stepfather, who nearly killed her in a car accident while driving drunk. Thankfully, her Aunt Christine, who is a recent widow with no children, takes her in and turns Emma's life around. Emma moves to New York and is enrolled in a prestigious, private school for her junior year. Emma dreads being the new girl in a small, wealthy school. At least, she has her plucky fourteen year old cousin, Ashley. On her first day, she immediately draws the attention of the resident mean girl and the pretty boy, who thinks his ass is made of gold. Her rebuffs don't allow her to slip under the radar. Thankfully, she does make some new friends. She settles into her English class, and in strolls a handsome, tousled bad boy with glittering green eyes. Brendan. Emma is immediately drawn to this boy, but after their initial meeting he ignores her. That doesn't stop her from drooling. A few weeks into the school year, some inexplicable things start happening. Street lights go dark when she runs by and she feel as if something dark is following her. Then bad dreams start haunting her, visions of dying over and over but as someone else. She finds the same crest that is on her charm necklace in Brendan's locker. Why is she drawn to this boy? Is something after her? Is it possible to have past lives?
What I Liked:
- I was pleasantly surprised by this book once it began to unfold. This story moves a bit beyond the typical high school romance. It starts with an instant attraction between Emma and Brendan, but then it cools off when Brendan disengages and becomes aloof. Now, I know some reviewers have complained about this seemingly being an insta love type relationship, but I didn't see it that way. First, they are attracted but then Brendan withdraws, and you are left guessing, along with Emma, as to his true intentions. Once the author reveals the twist and you see why they are drawn together, well things heat up and start to sizzle. Truly, this really isn't an insta love, love at first sight type of romance, there is much more to it than that, and I can't say much without involving spoilers. Let's just say it involves some magic, old legends, curses and a great love. I honestly enjoyed the relationship between the two.
- I liked both Emma and Brendan. Emma has dealt with a great deal of sorrow in her life, but she doesn't let it consume her. She moves forward. I liked that she was a bit insecure and felt awkward around Brendan. She is also a bit sassy, which makes some of her lines fun and memorable. I admired that she was courageous and willing to take a stand against the bullies, even risking a physical attack when she defends her cousin. Brendan on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery at first, he is a handsome (a hot mess) like-able bad boy. As the story progresses, his layers peel back and he has a lot of depth, he then becomes very swoon worthy.
- I enjoyed the various twists and turns, as well as the surprising inclusion of some super natural elements. A book that starts out as your typical teenage romance filled with high school drama, evolves into something far different than I expected.
And The Not So Much:
- This book is slow going in the beginning. The first third of the book reads like a traditional YA high school romance, girl meets smoking hot guy, sparks fly, boy ignores girl leaving her second guessing, enter mean girl and mean guy, more drama and then once the book hits the two thirds mark, the story picks up when some big stuff is revealed, and it transforms.
- One of the characters, Angelique, remains much of a mystery. She and Emma become friends. Angelique is all about shock, as she is the school's resident witch. This character is so fun, but she is not developed. She just flits in and out. Finally, at the conclusion of the book, there was a short excerpt from Angelique's point of view, and wow! It was very revealing, to say the least. It made me wonder why this side of her wasn't shown in the main story.
- Another character that I wanted to see more of and learn more about was Cisco, he immediately becomes Emma's friend and confidant. Then during the latter half of the book, he just fades out and is hardly present. I really enjoyed him and I wished that he had stayed in the picture.
- Sigh....this book includes a very nasty mean girl and boy. Why do we have to have so many of these characters? I absolutely detest the entire bullying/ mean kid theme. At least in this book, our main characters, Brendan and Emma stand up to the bullies.
- Toward the end of the book there is a big reveal regarding Emma's heritage and her abilities, I won't say anymore to alleviate spoilers, but this exposure did not flow well in the story, is just felt like something that was thrown in, and it wasn't thoroughly explained or explored. I am guessing this will be a theme in the sequel.
- Emma's twin brother, Nathan, is already deceased when the novel opens. However, he is still an integral part of the story. I would like to have had more insight on him; what was he like? Tell me more about the bond between he and Emma, etc.
Spellbound was a surprisingly fun read. This book takes a seemingly typical teenage attraction and turns it upside down, with some mystery and a pair of star crossed lovers. Brendan and Emma are both great characters and together they have electric chemistry. Beware of the mean girl theme, but luckily this is a book where the protagonists rise above it. If you are looking for something that steps outside the typical YA storyline, plus it lacks a love triangle and cliffhanger, big bonus points there, give Spellbound a try. Look for the sequel, Spellcaster, March 27, 2012.
“I knew that juniors did not hang out with the lower classes. It was like hanging out with a bunch of vegetarians and wearing a bacon necklace.”
“The slick smile was back on his face as James Blond spoke directly to my shirt’s third button.”
“I’d always heard the phrase “mentally undressing someone with your eyes” but never had I actually seen it in action. This dude’s eyes could perform a freakin’ CAT scan, they were so thorough.”
“She was a little waterfall, overflowing with good cheer.”
“The rest of the weekend seemed like a never-ending ocean of time”
“The pathway was velvet dark, the only illumination coming from Queens, across the river.”
“That’s because girls are evil,” I muttered. “High school girls are demons, seriously.”
“I had all the warning signs---and yet I’d run into danger’s welcoming arms and given it a kiss.”