First published by Harlequin Teen in 2011 (this edition by Harlequin Teen in 2011)
Book #1 in the Spellbound series
Description (from Goodreads)
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 Connor, 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.
Spellbound was a book that I had seen around quite a bit on different blogs, but not one which I felt I had to read sometime (and the sooner that time came the better). I am sure that, had I not won this book in a giveaway, I would not have bought it for myself in the near future, as the whole story did not sound so original or so compelling. That blurb up there, which is the one I had read before I got my hands on a copy of this book, just makes it sound like yet another of those YA books where the main character fancies a boy who is the bad guy and ignores her and then things start going weird.
To be honest, the book isn't much more than that. But I did find myself enjoying Spellbound much more than I thought I would. Emma is a girl who has been through much in her rather short life: she has lost her mother and her twin brother and was made to live with her irresponsible stepfather for some time, until she finally decided to go and live with her aunt in New York City. There she attends a very high class private school and on her first day there, she manages to make an enemy. (Yep, pretty typical.) And she also manages to find a guy that she is "irresistably drawn to". (Yep, again, pretty typical.) And that, by some peculiar (or not) coincidence, they happen to be "soulmates". (... you know)
So, all in all, the storyline is not what you might call very original. Just from the blurb alone, this is not a book I think would cause someone to want to read it straight away, because of the fact that it follows a pretty predictable storyline. But, as I said before, I enjoyed Spellbound more than I thought I would, mainly because of the fact that the writing was rather good. It flowed naturally and, while I was reading it, did not make me feel as if I were reading the same old story, yet another time. What I enjoyed the most was the story behind the story. (I don't want to say more than that, so that I don't spoil the book) Suffice to say, that the explanation given for the "soulmate" theory, while a little cheesy, was sweet and I enjoyed reading the parts where it was explained.
The characters themselves were okay (what I can remember of them, at least). Emma, the main character, though she came from a rather tough background was not very much of a whinge-y person (at least to me) and I appreciated that. As for Brendan, he was rather cool, in an aloof, mind-your-own-business kind-of way and though in the beginning I was just okay with him, I ended up rather liking him. The whole romance between the two of them did feel a tad too instant-romance-y, but at least it wasn't an all-consuming type of romance (like the one that has come to get on my nerves a little in Alyson Noel's Immortals series). One of my favourite characters was Angelique, the school weird-witch. She really is just great.
To sum up, Spellbound is a book worth reading, if you feel that you're not sure about it (as I was). It's not THE most original thing in the world, but it is interesting and well written and will definitely account for some hours/days of enjoyable reading.
Rating: 6/10 (just because it's not a very original plot)
Cara Lynn Shultz obtained a degree from Fordham University and currently works as a senior editor at People.com. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines, including Teen People, InStyle and Us Weekly. Spellbound is her first novel and the sequel to it, Spellcaster, will be out in March 2012. You can keep up with her updates by following her blog.
Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, 1st In A Series Challenge 2011