Spellbound

Main Characters:

Emma – Grew up in New Jersey and had a very hard life.  Her twin brother Ethan died a few years ago and her mother recently passed away, leaving Emma to live with her drunk step-father.  She finally moves in with her Aunt Christine in NY and starts to attend Vincent Academy a private school for NY’s wealthiest.

Brendan – From one of those families with lots of money. He’s on the basketball team but suspended at the moment.  He and Emma become a couple after some on-again-off-again moments.

Anthony – an arrogant guy from school.  When Emma shoots him down upon her arrival it’s the start of trouble.

Kristin – the b!$*% from school.  She takes an immediate, and un warranted, disliking to Emma.  And in a lot of ways, dislike doesn’t even begin to express how strong the feelings are.  She is a trouble maker throughout the story.

Angelique – Emma’s strange chemistry partner.  She’s an outcast at school but she can see Emma’s aura and likes Emma.  She’s also a witch.  And she’s the person that Emma can turn to about all the supernatural things – including her pendant and the fact that she is really a witch too.

Ashley – Emma’s younger cousin.  She’s a freshman at the Academy.  And she’s into Anthony, despite Emma’s warnings.  An encounter with Anthony starts off a chain of events that will change Emma’s life (and Brendan’s too).

Aunt Christine – a widow who was sister to Emma’s mom.  She is on the school board of the Academy and she takes Emma in.  She’s pretty smart and cool and clearly loves Emma.

Cicso – one of the guys Emma meets early on.  He becomes basically her best friend.

Main Premise:  Emma moves to NY to escape her past and the death of her mother and brother and the accident her step-father caused (which hurt Emma since Emma was in the car).  She instantly finds herself having a crush on Brendan and having to fend off Anthony and a jealous Kristin.  After Anthony spreads a nasty rumor about Ashley, Emma confronts Anthony and Brendan comes to the rescue.  The hot/cold thing between Emma and Brendan then gets set aside as they come together as a couple.  Meanwhile, Emma has been having strange dreams and has found herself in strange situation.  Angelique things that Emma is getting supernatural warnings – maybe Emma is a witch.  And the pendant that Emma wears, Brendan knows about it because he has a drawing of it in his locker.  There’s more to the connection between Emma and Brendan.  To avoid pre-publishing spoilers, they discover each other.  And Brendan, is he strong enough to save Emma?  (I will tell you, after the publication date!)

Locations:  NY City (with some time outside my favorite museum, the Met!)

Other Important Things to Remember for Later:  There was an epilogue – or snippet from a next book in the back of the galley.  Angelique thinks Emma is totally powerful.  That’s all I will say for now, again because I don’t want to spoil pre-publication!

Review:  I saw on the galley a quote comparing this to Twilight.  And I understand why.  There are a number of similarities.  But I also often found myself thinking about the Eternal Ones given the themes and the supernatural elements we see in this book.

The idea that the pair can’t be together or something terrible will happen to her – similar.  The back and forth with him, trying to stay away but wanting to be with her too – similar.  The lack of the ability to very subtly foreshadow – similar.  And, the non-cliffhanger ending (really) – similar.  And his “saving her” from an event on school grounds – similar.  But that’s where they end.  And I am grateful for that.   Twilight (don’t hate me, I enjoyed it and am a proud “Team Edward” t-shirt owner… but…) isn’t exactly great “literature”  It’s a fun read, an escape from reality, and a love story that teens can appreciate.

The differences are important though.  While we are constantly reminded that Brendan is “hot” but here we see more to him than just his great looks.  We actually get some character development.  And we understand the instant attraction and the fast love that develops for the pair much better here.  Emma is not the weakling and whinny annoying character that Bella is.  It easy to see why Brendan likes her and it’s good to see her relationship with her friends too.  It’s also good to see that the drama, which is much more suspenseful, is much more realistic.  Now, I know, this is all about the supernatural.  But that’s what’s great about the conflict with Anthony/Kristin.  They aren’t supernatural so it makes the climax that much more interesting, and easy to understand, and much more edge-of-the-seat.

What I was reminded of was how awful high school girls can be.  I felt for Emma, especially when the rumors about her start swirling.  Once we find out the story with the pendant, it was hard to put the book down; I wanted so badly to see how it was all going to work out.

I like the tie in of the 2 different supernatural elements.  While it’s not unique (there are a bunch of witch+reincarnation) stories, this one was well done, well tied together.  I would have like to have seen a little more of the witch element, but overall I enjoyed the book.  The dialogue between the characters was believable.  The character development was a nice balance of an introduction and enough depth to get the reader to feel for the main character, but not too much to bog me down and feel like the action was slow.  I really like that, for a time at least (assuming there is another book coming based on the snippet or whatever it was and the end of the galley) Brendan and Emma will be together.  Hope to see a book 2.

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