Sunday, May 26, 2013

YA book review: Spellbinding by Maya Gold

Spellbinding by Maya Gold
YA paranormal*Paperback/eBook, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Scholastic Point

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'm a fan of author Maya Gold. My mom saw the author at a book festival and purchased her Cinderella Cleaners books for me--all autographed, which was awesome! I really liked that middle grade series and jumped at the opportunity to see the author at a local book reading for her new YA book, Spellbinding. This time I was able to meet and talk to the author while getting my book signed. I thank the author for spending time with me.

Spellbinding was a cool book. Witches, magic, hot boys, and getting revenge on your bully? All cool. Main character and narrator Abby Silva was likable--she was beginning to discover she had magical 'powers' after her teacher assigns her class a genealogy report. While researching her ancestors, Abby reveals a family link to a woman from the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, Sarah Good. I found the whole history part of the story incredibly interesting. When Abby drives to Salem (just after passing her road test--go Abby!), I liked the descriptions of the town with its alleyways and stores. I now want to take a trip to Salem.

In Salem, Abby immediately locks eyes with a hot guy as he sweeps a sidewalk. She thinks she hears his voice in her head, but it's his face, his eyes, she has seen before in her dreams. Cue creepy music. This guy, Rem Anders, is a bit mysterious but friendly and kinda flirty. He talks to her and her friend Rachel as they order coffee in the shop he works at. When Abby knocks her coffee down, Rem instantly grabs it (reminding me of the scene in Twilight when Edward grabs the apple) and saves the day (and Abby from buying another drink).

I know readers complain of instant love in YA, but I didn't think in this case that term applied. Not when Abby already had dreams of this guy. They seemed to share a cool supernatural connection because of their family trees. I liked the reincarnation undertones here and how people can be eternal soul mates and such. Abby finds out she hails from a woman accused of being a witch and Rem believes her. During a visit to the Salem library, she later finds a book she saw earlier inside her bag. Cue the music again. Little by little, Abby realizes she does have powers like lighting candles and moving things. She gets a job at a New Age type store in Salem and is able to spend time with Rem. But he seems to be holding back on something--like his true feelings for her.

Whatever. That's Abby way of thinking. She likes Rem but he doesn't reciprocate so she decides to go after her longtime crush, football star Travis who is dating the equally hot, popular cheerleader. With her new found power and spell book, Abby casts a spell on Travis to like her. Does it work? Oh yeah. But then Abby begins to change. She used to be a regular teen, not popular, just normal and now she has Travis following her, his ex-girlfriend and her ring of cloned girlfriends hating on her, and Rachel not liking who she is becoming. Abby changes her looks, gets in trouble with her dad, Rem looks at her differently and she wonders if she's doing the right thing.

As prom approaches, Abby finds out the truth about her power and more. The story turns creepy as the pacing increases to set up an explosive prom scene. I liked the story even though I did figure out much of what was going on early. The whole magical component of the story was very cool and I wished there was more of that--more of the history and of Abby really learning how to use and nurture her powers and some more scenes with her dad and brother. The story felt rushed like I was on an amusement park ride and sometimes I just wanted it to slow down and give me more information or development. I liked Abby until she became selfish and seduced by magical powers. Then I realized her reaction was realistic (deep down wouldn't many of us react the same way?) so I liked her again. I wished there was more of Rem. For a YA book, Spellbinding came across as suitable for younger readers, even upper middle grade. 

Witches, powers and learning the craft make Spellbinding a fun, fast and compelling paranormal read. I liked Maya Gold's writing style, the way she described things and the dialogue was good and convincing. I wouldn't mind seeing Abby and Rem again.

Rating: 3.5
Cover comment:
How many times do I have to use the word "cool?" Very cool cover. Like how the picture wraps around to the back showing us the good Abby and the not so good Abby.

Book source:
Netgalley and then purchased. Thank you, Ms. Gold for signing my book!

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