Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

16 year-old Emma Connor's life has been a bit of a disaster the past few years. First her twin brother dies (of meningitis), then her mother (of cancer), leaving Emma alone with her abusive, alcoholic stepfather. When her stepfather causes a car accident that nearly kills them both, Emma moves to New York City to live with her aunt Christine.
When Emma begins her junior year at a posh, private school, she's in for a much bigger change than she ever imagined. Emma is drawn to tall, dark and handsome Brendan Salinger despite the fact that he acts quite coldly to her. Inexplicable things begin to happen, leaving Emma with no choice, but to explore the strange connection between her and Brendan.

I finished Spellbound quite a while ago, but didn't feel up to posting about it because the strongest feeling I had about the novel is one of irritation... not at the story itself or the author's writing, but at the text chosen by the publisher for the novel's back cover (and subsequently for the novel's promotional material). The snappy tag line includes information that neither the protagonist nor the reader learns until about 140 pages into the book. That's more than 40% of the way through the story. To me, that amounts to a spoiler. And, I really do think that I would have enjoyed Spellbound more if I hadn't read that tag line first. Knowing that piece of information prematurely clouded my view of the first half of the novel.

That being said, Spellbound was more or less what I would expect from a teen paranormal romance published by Harlequin. I do wish that Emma and Brendan's romance was a bit more substantive. If they are destined to be together, shouldn't there relationship read like more than just a typical teenage romance?

There are some things that I did like about the novel. While the secondary characters were a bit one-dimensional, I really liked Angelique (great attitude) and how Shultz handled Francisco (despite his horribly cliched stock character status). I also liked the fact that Shultz included what amounts to a soundtrack for the novel in the "What's on Brendan & Emma's iPods?" section at the end of the book.

It seems like Spellbound is the beginning of a series.1 I suspect that the novel's sequel may focus on Emma's friend Angelique. So readers who like Spellbound should keep an eye out for more where it came from.
  1. Harlequin: "A Spellbound Novel"; if the author uses the stories from Hadrian's Medieval Legends as a series theme, "there [a]re countless tales in that book" as Angelique says (331).
disclosure: I received a review copy of Spellbound from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley.

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