Monday, October 7, 2013

Something Wicked Returns Giveaway Hop! Spotlight/Review:Spellcaster, by Claudia Gray

Welcome to this stop
in the Halloween giveaway hop,

This hop is being hosted by the following blogs:

As my contribution to this event,
I'm spotlighting a great
witchy YA novel that I've greatly enjoyed!
You can also read my review below.

(Spellcaster #1)
Hardcover, 389 pages
Harper Teen
March 5, 2013
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy,
Young Adult Fiction

Chapter One Excerpt

   Quickly she closed her eyes and settled her left wrist in her right hand.  On her left wrist she wore what Dad called her charm bracelet -- and it did look like one, at a glance.

   Her fingers found the small pendant of ivory, the material she needed to balance her spell. 

   Silently, she went through the spell for the illumination of magical shape.

   A winter sunrise.
   The pain of abandonment.
   The knowledge of love. 

   She went deep within herself, calling up the ingredients, experiencing each more powerfully than real memory -- as if she were living them again --

   The sun rising on a sharp, cold morning when the snow was high enough to sink in knee-deep, painting the sky a pale pink, while Nadia shivered on the balcony.

   Nadia standing dumbfounded in the door of her parents' bedroom as Mom packed a suitcase and said, "Your father and I think we should live apart for a while."

   Waking up in a violent thunderstorm to find Cole curled next to her wearing his footie pajamas, in silent, total confidence that his big sister could protect him.

   The emotions and images coursed through her, reverberating through her powers, bouncing off the ivory until Nadia could see -- a barrier.  They were headed straight toward....what was this?  Was it meant to keep out any other forms of magic, or warn someone else if magic entered this space?

My Review

The cover of this book mesmerized me the minute I first saw it.  That blue flame poised on the girl's hand, the way she's totally focusing on it....I immediately wanted to find out more! 

The story started me off on the edge of my seat.  Nadia Caldani, the protagonist, is a young woman traveling from Chicago with her father and little brother.  They are headed to the fictional town of Captive's Sound, which, from the descriptions in the novel, appears to be located somewhere in the northeastern part of the country.  As they get closer to the town, Nadia begins to sense the presence of a very strong, yet invisible, magic barrier, which her family is entirely unaware of. 

Nadia is able to sense this barrier because she's a witch.  Her father and brother are unable to because, in this novel, only females can be witches and perform magic.  It's a hereditary thing, passed down from mother to daughter.  Men are completely non-magical (although there's one notable exception in the story).

Suddenly, Nadia and her family are involved in an accident, as their car slams into the invisible barrier, nearly sinking into the nearby river.  Thankfully, they are rescued by a young man who appears out of nowhere....

As the story progresses, the reader is introduced to a fascinatingly complex series of events and cast of characters.  Captive's Sound is heavily steeped in evil magic, and Nadia knows she has to do something to counteract the horrible spells that have engulfed the town in a depressing, oppressive fog.

The problem is, Nadia is not a fully-trained witch.  Her mother abruptly abandoned the family one fine day, leaving her daughter's training incomplete.  She also left three devastated people behind, which is why Nadia's father decided a fresh start would be the best thing for himself and his two children. 

This novel has gotten some mixed reviews, but I sure don't know why.  It grabbed me from the very beginning, and I simply couldn't let go!  All of the ingredients that make for exciting, page-turning reading are present in this story -- compelling, fully fleshed-out characters, unexpected twists and turns, and lots of fascinating, even mind-boggling magic!

I especially enjoyed the characters.

Nadia received a major emotional blow with her mother's desertion, but yet, she strives to remain a pillar of strength for her father and brother.  She is totally committed to protecting her family, as well as the entire town, from the insidious evil perpetrated by the villain of the story.  She is courageous, loving, persistent, resourceful, and yet, vulnerable in an endearing way.  I like her immensely!

Mateo Perez is the young man who rescues Nadia's family.  Interestingly, he, too, has lost his mother.  In his case, it's because of a strange curse that passes from generation to generation, on his mother's side of the family, giving him the ability to have prophetic dreams.  He is just as courageous and resourceful as Nadia, and is a total sweetheart.  Need I mention that he's drop-dead gorgeous, as well?  I totally adore him!

Mateo and Nadia are inexorably drawn to each other from the moment they meet, although their relationship develops gradually.  Claudia Gray has woven their blooming romance into this fascinating tale with deceptive ease.  There is no "insta-love" here.  They are unexpectedly pulled together, and their friendship slowly deepens into love.

What I really like about their relationship is that they work together as equals, even though each possesses skills that the other doesn't.  At no time does Mateo treat Nadia in a condescending manner.  In fact, they totally respect each other, mutually displaying tenderness and understanding.  This was a very mellow, beautiful thing to read!

Another very compelling character is Verlaine, a girl from the local high school.  Considered an outcast, she is either bullied or ignored by nearly all their classmates.  I really felt for her, especially since, as I got to know her better, I saw she was a great person -- compassionate, loyal, and tenderhearted.  Mateo and Nadia befriend her, and together they all attempt to fight against the powerful evil that seems to be more than they could possibly

And the villain....oh, the villain!  I won't identify that person here, but this character is very well drawn, being appropriately sinister.  This villain is a totally evil person, with no scruples whatsoever, no concern for the welfare of the people of this town.  Furthermore, this person is in the service of a very mysterious dark force....

The setting of the novel, as well as the events that took place, gave me a feeling of oppression, of doom and gloom.  The descriptions of the houses, the countryside, everything  contributed to the overall feeling that something very sinister was behind all the unsettling events taking place in the town.  However, there was always a ray of hope, as the three main characters bravely sought solutions to each obstacle thrown in their path.

Contributing to the creepy thrills is all the great magic conjured by Gray's imagination -- such as spells of liberation, spells of forgetting, of controlling the elements, even of changing a person's appearance so completely, they would be mistaken for someone else.  This is truly the stuff of fairy tales!

The spells are very interestingly concocted, as well.  Instead of the stereotyped weird ingredients, or magical potions and elixirs, each spell's "ingredients" consist of memories, each of which has a specific theme.  All of them are then combined to create the spell.  I've never come across anything like this before!  This is not only beautiful and very creative, but also deeply moving.

The climax of the story is open-ended, but that's because the sequel, Steadfast, is slated for publication next year.  I already have it on my wish list, and will be eagerly buying and devouring it as soon as it's released!

I heartily recommend this novel to all paranormal romance and urban fantasy fans, as well as those who enjoy Young Adult Fiction.  Believe me, you will absolutely love this story!  You will stay up into the wee hours, telling yourself in vain that you'll only read one more page...until you discover that it's 3 AM, and you've flown through four chapters without even realizing it!    

About the Author

Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.
Online Links 

Here's the
FABULOUS international giveaway!!
Before you enter, please be sure
to check whether 
The Book Depository delivers
to your country.
You can do that HERE.
Good luck, everyone!!

Click on the link above,
or the banner below,
to see the list of participating blogs,
as well as the rules!
You can still join in, with
Option Two!!


  1. I haven't read this one yet, but I love Claudia's books and coincidentally I just saw her the other day! Thanks for taking part in Something Wicked Returns!

    1. Hey, Candace!

      This is my very first Claudia Gray book, and I can't wait to read the sequel, "Steadfast", which, as you know will be out next year. I do have the Evernight series, but have yet to read it. "So many books...."

      Oh, you know Claudia in person? WOW. Lucky you!! I sure wish I could meet her!

      You're very welcome for my participation! When I found out about this, I really hustled to join in! I can't believe I nearly missed all the fun!! : )

    2. P.S. And thanks for entering my giveaway!! : )

  2. Thanks for being a part of Something Wicked, Maria. Sorry for the delay. I read Claudia's titanic book last year and I have heard some great things about this one and I totally want to read it. Thanks so much for the chance to win!

    1. Hey, Heidi!

      You're very welcome for my participation! To think that I nearly missed out on all the fun.... No problem with the delay; Candace told me that you were out of town on vacation. Nice!!

      This is my very first Claudia Gray book, and I totally LOVED it!! Now I have to read her Evernight series, which I own.

      You're also very welcome for the giveaway. Thanks to you as well, for entering!! : )

  3. Great review. It has definitely peaked my interest in wanting to read the book.

    1. Hey, Pam!

      Thank you! I'm so glad I've gotten you interested in this book. Believe me, it's well worth it!

      Thanks for entering my giveaway!! : )

  4. Hi, Jessica!

    You're very welcome! Thanks to you for entering the giveaway!! : )

  5. I definitely want to read it!! Sounds like a fantastic book!!

    1. Hi, there!

      Oh, it is! Thanks for participating!! : )

  6. Looks amazing and the cover is great! Loved the review!

    1. Hi, Ashfa!

      Oh, the book certainly is amazing, and the cover is gorgeous! Thanks for complimenting my review, as well as for entering the giveaway!! : )

  7. I am going to read "Spellcaster" because of your review.

    1. Hi, Terrie!

      thanks for the lovely comment, as well as for participating!! : )

  8. Based on your review of this novel, I truly look forward to reading it. The spells sound interesting, as does the setting. Few books receive the highest rating possible, so I'd like to read it to see what makes it warrant such a high rating. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Michelle!

      Thanks for complimenting my review! I gave this book five stars because it was superbly plotted, with truly engaging, well-rounded characters, as well as because it kept me turning the pages! I became completely immersed in it, and I'm now obsessed with it! I can't wait for the sequel to come out!! That will happen in January of 2014.

      Thanks for the great comment, as well as for your participation!! : )

  9. Replies
    1. Hey, Holly!

      Oh, it sure is!! Thanks for entering the giveaway!! : )

  10. It definitely sounds good! I really enjoyed your review. It does sound like soemthing I would like to read :)

    1. Hi, Ashleigh!

      Thanks for complimenting my review! I know you'll love this book if you win it!! Thanks for participating!! : )

  11. i want to read this book because i've enjoyed your review. the story is very interesting! Thank you for the giveaway!!

    1. Hi, Maricris!

      Thanks for complimenting my review! Yes, this story is very interesting! If you win the book, you'll definitely enjoy it.

      You're very welcome for the giveaway, and thanks for entering!! : )

  12. This book sounds really interesting and chilling, I like the descriptions of the setting and the way the spells are made is pretty unique. I'd definitely love to read this. Thank you for the giveaway!

    1. Hi, Isa!

      Yes, it definitely is! However, there IS that little ray of hope throughout. My favorite part of the plot -- in addition to the relationship between Mateo and Nadia -- is the spells. It's indeed pretty fascinating to see how they're constructed. None of this "eye of newt" stuff, which, by the way, is also pretty gross!

      You're very welcome for the giveaway! Thanks for such a great comment!! : )

  13. I entered your Something Wicked Returns Halloween Giveaway
    It would be great to win a copy of Spellcaster By Claudia Gray.
    In response to your question of
    Do you want to read SPELLCASTER, based on my thoughts about the book?
    I liked your review of this book and i have wanted to read this book ever since i saw it on Goodreads.
    I haven't read any of this author's books but the storyline and the cover caught my attention.
    Your review just confirmed
    this was an interesting book that was worth reading.
    Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!!

  14. Hi, Wayne!

    Glad you liked my review, and that it confirmed your opinion of the book! It is indeed a terrific book, one very well worth reading!

    You're very welcome for the giveaway, and thanks for our participation!! : )

  15. yes, you really made me want to read it! it sounds great!

    1. Hi, Kristin!

      I'm so glad you liked my review! And the book is indeed great!!

      Thanks for participating!! : )

  16. Great review! Spellcaster looks amazing and yes, your review has made me very much interested in it! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

    1. Hey, January!

      Oh, thank you so much for complimenting my review!! This book is indeed a terrific read! I know you'll love it if you turn out to be the winner.

      You're very welcome for the giveaway and thanks for participating!! : )

  17. Yeah i would love to read it and i love the cover!! THANKS FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!

    1. Hi, Layla!

      Oh, I'm sure you'll love reading this book if you win it! And the cover is what attracted me to it in the first place!

      You're very welcome for the giveaway and thanks to you for participating!! : )

  18. this is great the way youd id the review i get in to book and then
    i love to read and blog on it and then the book has great cover

  19. I have been wanting to read this book since i have heard about it.. Even with all the mixed reviews on it i will still give it a chance!! Great review!!!

  20. Accidently added my Google + link in the Add SPELLCASTER on Goodreads entry. Here is my link:

  21. Love your review! Good characters and twists in the story are what I look for and I was happy to read that this book has that and kept you interested! I am looking forward to reading it and would love to win a copy! Thanks!

    Suz Reads

  22. I have already wanted to read it for a while, but your review of the characters does make me want to move it to the top of my TBR pile. (: I love magic. I am curious as to what you are talking about when you say mind-boggling magic. (:


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