Book Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz is due to be released on June 28 2011. This young adult novel is an enthralling tale of true love, magic, being true to yourself, and sacrifice. Emma Conner has had a fairy tale life so far, at least the part before the rescue. She has suffered through several tragedies and is ready for a fresh, new start. However, when she walks into her new school she finds very few friendly faces. Then there is Brendan, one boy that changes from hot to cold in a heartbeat. There is a definite connection between them, but could giving in to their attraction bring about Emma’s death? There are strange happenings, popular girl plots, jocks being jerks and true friendship all playing a part in this riveting story of true love that comes with a curse. For those that are concerned about this book being too paranormal or like Twilight, it does not take on the love triangle or dangerous boy turns that you might expect from the set up. The story is fresh and had me hooked from page one.

Spellbound tells the story of Emma and Brendan. Emma has lived a tragic life, but does not fall into the character trap of being broody or lost in her misery. She is sad, and just wants to be an anonymous student in a new school. Events make that impossible, but Emma manages to walk the fine line or being an outcast and just simply not conforming enough to fall into accepted ranks. She stands on her own two feet, and can stand on her own two feet. Unlike some other girls in paranormal novel, she does not spend every moment pondering Brendan or just stumbling into the right place at the wrong time. She is a believable character, with solid traits like loyalty and intelligence that has found herself in a situation that she would have found unbelievable if it had not been happening to her. Brendan appears to be the standard rich bad boy. However, he is not so typical. Brendan stands up to bullies and those of equal social status. He does not care about anyone’s bank account, clothes or family. He seems to honestly accepts people on their personal merits, rather than what they have, which is notably rare in the exclusive school that Emma has joined. The characters all fall into this puzzle perfectly, without feeling forced. All are realistic people caught up in circumstances spinning out of control.

Spellbound takes reincarnation and troubled love and gives it a fresh face. I will admit to being concerned that the story would be a repeat of Twilight because of the way Brendan turned cold, and the teasers that he would be dangerous for Emma. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Spellbound really went in a different direction. Even the most typical characters, such as the mean girls of the prep school, were more than they first appeared. Other characters, such as Cisco and Angelique, were extremely well written and described but still let me wanting more. I cannot wait to see where the next book, which promises to flesh out those side characters since it appears to be told from Angelique’s point of view, picking up right where Spellbound ends.

I highly recommend Spellbound. It might seem like just another paranormal romance in a market that is being flooded, but it is so much more. The paranormal aspects do not overwhelm the high school drama or the interpersonal complications that drive the story. The overall story feels more like a gothic tale; with the possibility of witches, ghosts and curses at work. It is not a cookie cutter paranormal romance. I am glad to say that it is a fun read, so sit back and enjoy the ride. I am very thankful for the galley from NetGalley , which allowed me to get my hands on this title early. I am only disappointed in the fat that it will be that much longer before I can get my hands on the next book from Schultz.