Paranormal Young Adult
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Amazon)
When Nadia's family moves to Captive's Sound, she instantly realizes
there's more to the place than meets the eye. Descended from witches,
Nadia can sense that a spell has been cast over the tiny Rhode Island
town—a sickness infecting everyone and everything in it. The magic at
work is darker and more powerful than anything she's come across and has
sunk its claws most deeply into Mateo . . . her rescuer, her friend,
and the guy she yearns to get closer to even as he pushes her away.
has lived in Captive's Sound his entire life, shadowed by small-town
gossip and his family's tormented past. Every generation, the local
legends say, one member of the family goes mad, claiming to know the
future before descending into insanity. When the strange dreams Mateo
has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl from a car accident
actually come true, he knows he's doomed.
Despite the forces
pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the
chains of his terrible family curse, and to prevent a coming disaster
that even now threatens the entire town, including Nadia's family, her
newfound friends, and her own life.
Spellcaster is a gem of a first installment, introducing us to a handful of wonderfully memorable characters largely free of melodrama and angst whose focus alternates between friends, family, and saving their small town rather than remaining solely on their hormones. This world of magic is easily understood without copious amounts of information or explanation, and the unusual nature of the ingredients for Nadia's spellwork add an extra element of believability to her brand of witchcraft. Instead of actual physical ingredients, Nadia’s spells are cast based largely on memories and experiences–things like “a love unbreakable” needing to be recalled in order for her magic to work–thus granting us access to some of Nadia’s most powerful memories while at the same time highlighting our similarities even as the casting of the spell itself reminds us of our differences.
Nadia is a wonderfully normal heroine (aside from the fact that she’s a witch), a young woman who is madly in love with her younger brother Cole and has assumed the role of caretaker for both him and her father in her mother’s absence. While she finds herself attracted to Mateo from the moment he pulls her from her car’s wreckage, she is not one to pine or suddenly shift the entirety of her life until it revolves completely around him, instead she acknowledges her crush and continues to function as she did prior to meeting him. She carries a heavy weight on her shoulders with her witchcraft, something she can’t share with her father and brother as one of the rules of magic is that men are to remain ignorant of it, but she never complains or whines, always stoically accepting her fairly limited knowledge of magic (courtesy of her mother’s abandonment as both parent and mentor) and seeking to do the best with it she can.
Mateo is as delightfully normal as Nadia, sparing us the assignment of a common young adult hero label such as “bad boy” and instead simply remaining attractively ordinary. He’s neither absurdly popular nor completely shunned, his good looks keeping him largely in the middle of the social ladder even as rumors of his family’s curse try to knock him down a few rungs, and like Nadia, he never despairs of his lot in life. He’s as attracted to Nadia as she is him, but he never comes on too strong or resorts to over the top protective behavior like stalking, instead their romance is quiet, fragile and sweet, progressing slowly but surely throughout. There is a declaration of love that isn’t entirely necessary, but it comes into play late after they’ve spent a great deal of time together and have formed a rather unique bond courtesy of Nadia’s magic, so while we may still feel it’s too soon for such a pronouncement, it’s easy to overlook in favor of all the positives in their relationship.
Overall, Spellcaster is a quick and captivating read full of magic, humor, and romance, complete with a deliciously dark villain whose very presence on the page causes our lips to curl in angry sneer. The story itself feels satisfyingly complete, the smaller storyline playing out in full even as its completion reveals its role as a catalyst for the larger story arc of the series, and I cannot wait to return to Captive’s Sound to see how Nadia grows as both witch and woman as her story continues.