Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review: Spellbinding, by Maya Gold

Maya Gold
Trade Paperback, 263 pages
Point (An imprint of Scholastic, Inc.)
April 1, 2013
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, YA
Source: Barnes & Noble

Book Synopsis:  
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.

The cover of this novel is undeniably beautiful, and it drew me in right away when I first saw it on a shelf at B&N. I think it was all the blue tones that attracted me, as well as the title, which was created with a gorgeous, silver-toned calligraphy.  I was also totally intrigued by the plot, so I bought the book, prepared for a great read.

I'm disappointed to say that, indeed, this novel left a lot to be desired. 

At first, I became immediately immersed in the story. Then I began to encounter some 'bumps' along the way. Among those bumps was the cliche -- much too common in YA novels -- of the main character being bullied in school.  To be fair, though, perhaps this type of thing appears so frequently in these novels because it's such a common experience for a lot of teens. I can relate to this myself. Still, too many authors have used this trope.

Now that I've mentioned these bullies, I have to say that they reminded me of the ones in Evermore, the YA novel I read and reviewed before this one. The bullies in Spellbinding also congregate in a group of three. In both books, there's the main bully, a mean girl (of course), and her two nauseatingly devoted followers, who copy her every move, including being just as mean as their leader. Needless to say, all three are boring cardboard stereotypes, in both books. They're also interchangeable, for the most part.
The main character herself, Abby, was not someone I could really relate to. In fact, there were times when I actually disliked her. She, too, is a stereotype -- the teen girl who is somewhat misunderstood and shunted aside by her father and brother, who also resents her father's girlfriend because of the possibility that the woman might be taking her mother's place.

Abby is, potentially, an interesting character. I liked her when she was doing some research on the Salem witch trials, for instance, for a school project. But then I disliked her when she couldn't decide between two guys, and was actually playing with both, although she did not completely acknowledge this to herself. Travis is her longtime crush, but then she meets Rem. Yet, once she discovers she's a witch, she decides to use magic to win her old crush's adoration, because she wants to exact revenge on the mean girl who has been making her life miserable, and happens to be Travis's girlfriend. This is not the type of thing a protagonist should do, if an author wants her readers to identify with this character. 

Everyone familiar with the paranormal -- whether in fiction or real life -- knows that spells cast for the purpose of winning someone's love are actually black magic, plain and simple. They are totally unethical. Abby acts as if she simply doesn't care about this. She wants her revenge on Megan -- period. Besides, she still feels attracted to Travis, even though she feels an even stronger attraction to Rem. 

One of the things in the book I found really interesting was Abby's connection to the Salem witch trials. She discovered that she was actually a descendant of one of the women wrongfully accused of witchcraft, who was executed in 1692. 

I also loved the magical battle that took place toward the end of the book. It turned out that Abby's witchy talents lay in a certain direction -- one that was necessary to "complete the circle" -- and she was being forced to join up with other elemental witches in order to create a very powerful paranormal association of these magical beings. The purpose of this association was a very sinister one, and a lot of lives were at stake. To her credit, Abby does fight against joining them, every step of the way. So, again I found myself liking her. Okay, I get that she's not perfect. Still, I would expect a little more consistency in the personality of a book's main character.

While the plot does have some great action in it, especially toward the end, other parts of the book were rather boring. 

One character I really liked, though, was Dyami, the owner of "Spiral Visions", which is the metaphysical bookstore where Abby gets a part-time job. Although she herself is a psychic, Dyami is also very much down to earth, and treats Abby as she would another adult. She's there for Abby if she feels her advice is needed, but she doesn't talk down to her, or interfere in her life unless asked. 

As for the romance between Abby and Rem, it had its sweet moments, but I wish their obvious connection, and strong attraction to each other, had been made much more vivid, more compelling. I had to cringe every time this romance was interrupted by the silliness of Travis following Abby around because of that ridiculous love spell. Things got better toward the end, but it still wasn't enough for me to get 'fangirly' over Abby and Rem as a couple.

As if all of the above weren't enough, I found the ending to be a huge letdown. I was all set for this to become an exciting witchy series, but that ending definitely let me know that this was a standalone. More disappointment.....

In short, while this book did have its moments, overall it just didn't really impress me that much. It was somewhat interesting, but the characters were weak, and the plot line was, as well. Maybe it just needed to be longer, with more character development, more depth to the story. Also, all of the YA cliches should have been removed. Perhaps then this would have been on my list of totally awesome YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy novels. Instead, it was just a blip on the literary radar for me.


1 comment:

  1. Looking at the cover, I thought this book's genre is Sci-Fi!
    I know, I don't like cliche novel too. It feels like I can predict what would happen next so it makes me not looking forward to the end of the book at all.
    Thank you for the review! 😊


THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

As of today, 9/23/18, I have permanently enabled comment moderation, due to a sudden rash of SPAM comments. I appreciate your patience!

Thanks for your thoughts on my posts! I always reply here, as well as comment back on your blog. Have a WONDERFUL day!! :)