One Book a Week Review: SPELLBOUND, by Cara Lynn Shultz

One Book a Week Illustration for SPELLBOUND

Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal Romance.
Read It If You Like: High School Drama, Magical Girls, Fated Lovers, Reincarnated Lovers.
Content Warnings: Attempted on-page sexual assault of the main character.
Rating: ✩✩

What It’s About

The first book in a YA paranormal duology, SPELLBOUND follows sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, a teen girl who moves to Manhattan to live with her aunt after a series of family deaths.

Depressed and suffering from visions, Emma makes quick friends with the high school “witch” and ends up on the bad side of a rumor-mongering queen bee. She also catches the eye of Brendan Salinger, a rich, aloof bad boy with bright green eyes, a mysterious past, and a secret.

When Emma discovers that she and Brendan share a supernatural past together, she makes it her mission to break the spell that holds them. If she doesn’t, the love they feel for each other might end up in another curse.

The Review

The SPELLBOUND book series felt very 2000s in its cultural touchstones, and with good reason (its release date was 2011). I can’t remember the initial reasons why I picked up the novel. My brain keeps circling around the idea that I was really into the beginning chapters, and the nostalgia this era evokes in me. So that might be the cause, but don’t quote me on it.

A lot of the media trends and music that were popular during my high school years were present in this story, and it was nice to see those trends get some airtime. I also liked the fact that SPELLBOUND wraps up as a standalone. Very few loose threads are left hanging, despite its series status.

Unfortunately, I had some issues with SPELLBOUND’s character choices.

While the not like the other girls trope was endemic during this era, it is particularly pernicious in this novel. The attempted, on-page sexual assault of the underage main character made me upset. I can handle a certain degree of dark content, but there needs to be a purpose behind the dark content and I felt like it wasn’t necessary here. It’s also safe to say that I’m extremely dubious about YA narratives that use sexual assault as a plot device.

Would I Recommend This Book To Others?

I hate giving less-than-stellar reviews, but unfortunately, no, I would not recommend it. Overall it’s one of those books that I loved the intro to and didn’t outright dislike most of it, but the content warning is a big one. I can’t say “trust me, you’ll enjoy it” with confidence, so pick it up on your own initiative.

Find SPELLBOUND on Goodreads | IndieBound (LINK NO LONGER AVAILABLE) | Amazon

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