Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Series: Spellbound (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Format: Paperback, 371 Pages
ISBN-10: 0373210507 (Harlequin Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0373210503 (Harlequin Teen)
Reviewed by: Emmy
After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although?it’s not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a seventeen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain—especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close?.But something dark and hungry is using Emma’s and Brendan’s deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma’s crash course in überspells may not be enough to keep them safe?or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own.
Quick & Dirty: An unnecessary sequel that improves in a few ways on the first book — more action, tension, and romance than in Spellbound.
Opening Sentence: “They’re not looking at you.”
For those of you who thought Spellbound was a stand-alone, you aren’t wrong. This story picks up four months after the end of the first book and is very different. There’s no carry over, no “oh you thought you were free but really…”, it’s a new plot. Frankly, I wish that Shultz had left our couple alone and started a new series. Brendan and Emma deserve a break! In Spellcaster we have an unknown enemy who uses Brendan and Emma’s fears against them. Emma steps up her spell-learning lessons, which means we get to see more magic, but their enemy is still ahead of them and ready to destroy them.
Brendan and Emma’s storyline is solid. I was so, so glad Shultz added drama from outside of the relationship instead of trying to make them break up with each other via doubts and internal drama. Jealousy is overwhelming as girls who wanted Brendan hate on Emma for being with him. It was all very Mean Girls-meets-Gossip Girls and could’ve been toned down. We know they’re jealous, but I didn’t want to hear about it every few pages. What their relationship has in this novel that wasn’t in the prequel is the feeling of “We had no choice in this.” Yes, they’re reincarnated lovers who have just broken free of a cycle of tragedy — but I don’t want to feel like Brendan is stuck with Emma or vice versa. Which I did at more than one point.
Backstory is also dropped in every few pages. As in, you really, really don’t have to read book one, because Shultz tells you absolutely everything that happened in this installment. I could’ve done without having the whole thing rewritten in this book. Another writing point that really bothered me was the split POVs in Spellcaster. Spellbound didn’t split POVs — it was all Emma all the time — but this book did because Emma finds herself in situations where she can’t tell us what’s going on. We switch over to Angelique at random points, which felt like a cop out.
The tension in Spellcaster is much, much better than in Spellbound. Even though the stakes aren’t as high as they were in book one, Shultz does a much better job of bringing the story together. She also makes Emma into a stronger heroine — putting her right in the thick of things instead of relegating her to the sidelines. Part of this is that her magic helps her defend herself, and part of it is what’s going on with Brendan in this book. The villain is supposed to be a secret, but frankly the character screams “antagonist!” and that aspect of the plot doesn’t begin until halfway through the book. Unless you were a die-hard-must-have-more Brendan and Emma fan in Spellbound I say leave the characters in their happy place and skip this book.
“Let me put it this way. It’s all related,” Angelique explained. “Your attack. My feeling of dread. How tonight, I couldn’t feel certain things, as if there were holes in what I was sensing. And now, Ashley being sick. It’s all related.”
“And it’s all my fault,” Brendan added.
“You were just trying to push me out of the way,” I said, taking his hand and he ran his fingers over the Claddagh ring he gave me.
“No, he has a point,” Angelique said ruefully. “The blame does, essentially, go back to Brendan.” I twisted my head to look at him and he nodded, shutting his eyes. And that’s when I noticed that his black lashes were a little damp.
FTC Advisory: Harlequin Teen provided me with a copy of Spellcaster. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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