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I Belong

Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Title: Spellbound

Author: Cara Lynn Shultz

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Series: Spellbound (Book 1)

Publication Date: June 21, 2011

Format: Paperback, 341 Pages

ISBN-10: 0373210302 (Harlequin Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0373210305 (Harlequin Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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.

Quick & Dirty: This reincarnation paranormal falls back on insta-love and a lot of backstory to explain the novel, while Brendan and Emma wait for the other shoe to drop on their tragic romance.

Opening Sentence: It’s always embarrassing to have someone take you to school.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review

The story begins with Emma starting the semester late at Vincent Academy, one of New York City’s exclusive and snobby prep schools. She’s moved in with her aunt because of her step-dad and a horrible accident that turned into a press-attention nightmare. To say Emma is not thrilled to be going to school with the Blue Bloods of NYC is putting it mildly. Part of it, I think, is because she hates to be a burden to her aunt. The rest of it is because these socialites-in-training are party-harder snobs with more money than sense.

Emma begins to have strange dreams. Dreams where her dead twin brother Ethan is warning her to stay away, but Emma can’t figure out what. She does know that these dreams are vivid and real and that in all of them she dies. Strange, different deaths, but her brother is always there trying to protect her.

Then there’s Brendan Salinger. He’s the hottest boy in school — and the most untouchable. Everyone knows he hates Vincent Academy and his fellow students — a classic bad boy who always look like he just rolled out of bed. (But actually more attractive than real boys who have just rolled out of bed.) Brendan is the most attractive boy she’s ever seen — and after a great night at a concert he refuses to acknowledge her existence. Not that he doesn’t know she exists. He ignores her, deliberately and without provocation. It isn’t long before Emma realizes there is more to Brendan — more to Brendan and her than meets the eye. If they are going to have half a chance of surviving what’s coming, he needs to stop playing hot-and-cold.

The largest problem I had with Spellbound was the massive amount of exposition and info-dumping the author used to set up the story and explain every situation. If that’s not the sort of thing that bothers you, then Brendan and Emma’s romance is sure to make you swoon. For me, it seriously cut the tension and made the book lag. My other problem with this book is that Emma’s new life at Vincent Academy is based completely on the idea that her friends aren’t going to Google her. Now, I haven’t recently googled any of my friends, but when you give a heroine an archenemy you expect that sort of underhanded tactic. I let it slide because this book is populated mostly with stock characters and the focus is solely on Emma.

Hopefully, Vincent Academy will become more fleshed out with the sequel, so I can fall in love with characters other than Brendan.  (He’s pretty hot. And filled with angst.) I’m very intrigued with where the series is going, because I think it’ll be in a direction very different from what I first thought. Spellbound could easily have been a stand-alone novel. This makes me worried about what Shultz is going to put Brendan and Emma through in the next installment!

Notable Scene:

Wordlessly, Brendan bit his bottom lip and a mischievous look crossed his handsome features. He quickly reached out his hand and grabbed my kneecap, pinching it between his thumb and forefinger.

“Hey!” I yelled. I wasn’t hurt–just surprised. I flicked my pen at him. It bounced off his shoulder and he laughed.

“Tsk, tsk, Emma,” Brendan admonished, wagging a finger at me. “Starting another fight. Has anyone ever told you that you’re an instigator?”

Before I could reply, he leaned in and in a low voice, said, “By the way, I’m out tomorrow, and leaving school right at lunch, so please try to not provoke any wars or attempt to take on the entire junior class.”

“I was just going to fight a few freshmen,” I retorted. “I can take them. They’re little and weak.”

Spellbound Series:

1. Spellbound

2. Spellcaster

FTC Advisory: Harlequin Teen provided me with a copy of Spellbound. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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