Spellbinding by Maya Gold: Review

Format: Paperback, 272 pages Published: April 1, 2013 by Scholastic Point  ISBN: 0545433800 (ISBN13: 9780545433808)
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Published: April 1, 2013 by Scholastic Point
ISBN: 0545433800 (ISBN13: 9780545433808)

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

There’s more than one way to be powerful . . .
It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva–sixteen and nearly friendless–makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.
Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush–and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there’s Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.
A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history–and her heart–before she can face the powerful truth.

My Rating: 2½/5 stars

Source: Netgalley/Point

My Review:

As an avid reader and devourer of the written word, I jump into each and every book I pick up with enthusiasm.  I don’t request books I don’t have a real interest in and will certainly pass on a read if I can’t drum up any enthusiasm.  I want a book to be so damn good I literally can’t put it down.  Of course, there is a dark side to this, the side where you find yourself jumping into a book with both feet and being less than impressed when you reach the end of the read.  Unfortunately, I took a trip to the dark side with Maya Gold’s YA novel, Spellbinding.

This novel has all the makings of a fantastic read: there is a backstory involving the Salem Witch Trials, there is a young witch just coming into her powers in the here and now, there is a cute yet mysterious boy and, there is evil afoot that must be stopped at all costs.  Everything about this set-up appealed to me from the beginning and I was completely prepared to be blown away by the awesomeness.  Unfortunately, none of the awesomeness came to pass for me and I was left feeling like Spellbinding is 200+ pages of wasted potential.  In order to be completely fair to the author, I must note that I never even considered DNFing this book because I knew with the turn of just one more page the awesomeness was going to come crashing down on me like a tidal wave.  I sincerely wish this had happened given how intriguing the synopsis for Spellbinding is.

The Bottom Line: While the author’s writing style is easy to read and has no significant problems (i.e. spelling, grammar, etc.) Spellbinding left me with far too many questions and not nearly enough answers to be a truly satisfying read.  For example:

*Why does no one, including her closest family members ever really discuss

Abigail’s mother and what her powers, if she had any, may have been?

* Why does everyone in the family ignore the familial connection to the Salem Witch Trials?  They are descendants of one of the most important and famous names from the Trials so why ignore it?

*Once Abigail begins to come into her powers, why won’t she talk to anyone about them and what the powers may mean for her?  Her boss, Dyami would be the absolute perfect person to ask.

*There is never a discussion as to why every witch who comes into her powers is bad. Are there no good witches anywhere?  Even Salem had a few “good” witches, right?

* Why is the plot-critical event (the summer solstice) dealt with in such a rushed manner?  The entire book has led Abigail and the reader to this one pivotal moment so why rush through this event?

At the end of the day, I didn’t DNF this book and do still see a great deal of potential.  If this one were to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and have some of the big questions answered or simply dealt with differently, Spellbinding has the potential to be a very good read.  I can even see the potential for a second novel which would delve more deeply into the backstory of both Abigail’s family and the Salem Witch Trials.  So, would I recommend Spellbinding to a potential reader?  In its current manifestation, I have to sadly go with no; I cannot reasonably recommend Spellbinding to potential readers.

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