(Thank you to netGalley for providing me with a copy!)
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?
Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.
But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.
1. (+) Emma, the Protagonist - Smart, sarcastic, strong, caring. I loved when she stood up to Kirsten in the beginning. I loved how she lost sight of her fear when she marched up to Anthony and demanded that he tell the school the truth about what happened between him and her baby cousin. I loved that she wasn't quite the damsel-in-distress - sometimes maybe but not always - and that she, in the end, was the one who made all the worlds difference in what happened for their romance.
2. (+) Use of Emma's Past - This was one of the things I really loved about Spellbound. Ms. Shultz used Emma's harsh past with her family to strengthen her as a character. Plus, I really liked the relationship between Emma and her brother and the little tidbits we got to see of that contrasted against the horrid family life she had after his death.
3. (+) World-building - This book isn't filled with that giant of a fantasy world but for what it's worth, what's included is done well. Gems and witch powers and spirits coming alive in dreams. All nice and established throughout the book.
4. (+) The Romance - Insta-love that comes with a believable explanation and a girl staring longingly into the guy's green eyes. That's not what I liked about the romance, though. I liked the banter back and forth between Brendan and Emma. It was light and fun in the midst of something so serious. Plus, I thought Brendan was actually developed pretty well as a character and had some swoon-worthy elements to him. Though he's got to fix that temper of his.
5. (--) The Villains - Not believable. I'm sorry but these villains were stereotypes and were not, in my opinion, well developed. I cannot picture a high school guy with such rage over something so idiotic nor can I picture a girl who takes an immediate dislike to Emma because of her crush on a guy and then does something as drastic as she does. And their plans were really stupid sometimes! I cannot take a villain seriously when he says stuff like "yo, expel the bitch already." I'm sorry. I really, really don't want to be harsh, but this nagged at me throughout the novel.
6. (--) Cast of Characters - Too many characters! I think Ms. Shultz could have gotten rid of Jenn, for one. Instead of having spent time on Jenn, she could have devoted more time developing Angelique or Cisco, who are by far more interesting. Also, I didn't feel all that close to any of Emma's friends. I wanted to care about them, but I needed to know more.
7. (--) Not What I Expected - When I read the synopsis, I thought there'd be more of the paranormal/fantasy aspect to the novel. I thought there would be all sorts of loops and it'd be a great thriller. But to my dismay, there was a much greater focus on the trivialities of high school than there was on the otherworldly aspects. Other readers may like that, but I don't. I don't enjoy reading about high school drama - the rumor mill, the pranks gone wrong, the girls fighting over the boys, etc. etc. So this has to do more with personal preference, I suppose.
8. (+) Pacing - It was a pretty easy read--didn't feel rushed or tortuously slow at any points. Even pacing throughout.
9. (+) The Writing - A couple of times, the writing bothered me. Some sentences were unnecessary and left little to my imagination. Readers don't always need to be told what exactly is going on when we can infer it for ourselves.... But I really, really enjoyed the historical aspect to their romance and the love poems and the lyrical way the curse was written.
10. (--) The Cover - um... what? What does this have to do with the novel whatsoever? The street lamp breaking was just one part, definitely not the most major component. If I saw this cover, I'd be intrigued... but not so sure I'd pick up the book.
I didn't get a chance to mention this above, but I also liked the ending. It was unexpected but still enjoyable.
Despite my annoyance with the villains and the high school drama, I still enjoyed this novel and its take on witches and a cursed romance. It's a nice addition to the legions of paranormal romance.