Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
Series: Spellbound #1
Links: Amazon | 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.
Emma is goofy and funny and realistic in a lot of ways. Her personality comes through on the pages and she just feels like a genuine kind of girl. Brendan's behavior toward her is a little erratic, but he's a good guy. Emma's cousin Ashley reminds me of one of those lap dogs that is always yapping and jumping while it's yapping and hoping that someone will pick it up, but is really cute and cuddly and lovable. And there is an interesting cast of characters around them, from the mysterious outcast witchy friend to the drunken but mostly lovable chick.
The story moves slowly until about the last 75 pages. It took me forever to get through the first 300 pages or so because there just isn't much happening for a huge chunk of the book, and the pacing can be tedious at times. There are also some things in Spellbound that really set off some pet peeves of mine. The first, is that there are way too many pop-culture references and a whole lot of brand name dropping. Pop-culture references in books serve very little positive purpose, but can play a huge role in dating a book and setting it up to become something that will be outdated really quickly. If it is just one or two mentions of something, then I can generally overlook it. But in Spellbound, there is literally a new pop-culture reference on almost every other page, and it is just too much. I much prefer for authors to leave this stuff out, or to invent their own band names, etc. It's my opinion that putting these references into any story will drag it down. So this annoyed me a lot throughout the book. The other thing that set off a pet peeve of mine is the insta-love between Emma and Brendan. Why do reincarnated soul mates have to fall in love at first sight? In this case, even in their first life it's insta-love, which just makes it feel that much less believable. That's not love. It's lust. I expect to get more than that out of character relationship developments. The lore and background story feel a little contrived to me, as well. And, though the last 75 pages are action-packed and suspenseful, I feel like the overall plot is something of a disappointment.
There are also some things I like about the book. The characters are interesting for the most part, though some are a little stereotypical. The writing is good, and there are times when I really enjoy the humor. But I can't get past my peeves enough to say that I like it. The story falls a bit short as a result of these things, so, for me, this one is kinda meh.