Book: Spells for Forgetting - ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Author: Adrienne Young
Buy link?: at the end of this post ⤵️
I met Adrienne Young’s writing with Fable—which I really enjoyed—, where we follow a teenage girl conquer the seas and beyond. Now, with Spells for Forgetting, we travel to a mysterious magical island close to Seattle. Here, the families have lived for generations, children inheriting their family’s trade. There’s a curious ambience that attracts tourists, but also keep you wary somehow. It’s like the island is protecting itself. At the same time, its inhabitants live by the motto of ‘we take care of our own and do the best for the island.’ This motto throws a particular mantle of morality over them, a guiding star where the line between right and wrong gets blurry.
Our protagonists, Emery and August have loved each other since very young. The latter, however, had to leave the island after been accused of murder. 14 years later he’s back. The past still chases him, as well as his unresolved feelings for Emery. A love like that doesn’t go away so easily. Together, they’ll have to solve a cold case if they want to discover the island secrets and live in peace for once and for all.
Zooming into their relationship, I wish I had more time to connect with them. They seemed to have a beautiful relationship when they were young, but because that’s their past, we only get bits and pieces. Fast forward, they meet again as adults and the tension and love is still there. Every Romance lover’s dream is to see a love story unfold and conquer barriers. Theirs wasn’t an exception. That said, their reacquaintance is short as well as the ‘epilogue.’ Also, because they were magically bonded, I wasn’t sure sometimes if the binding had more pull over their relationship than their feelings for each other.
On another account, the setting was beautifully created. The darkness, the mist, the forest, the wind, the lightning, everything played right to give you this spooky feeling. At some point I was a bit confused by some of the ominous signs. For example, the starlings were long due to migrate. However, they stayed and appeared in crucial moments. I believe they were announcing something, like they say owls signify death is close by. I kept expecting a bit more of explanation, to be honest.
The story is an exciting ticking bomb waiting to explode
The inhabitants also played their role into the suspense of Saoirse. The story is an exciting ticking bomb waiting to explode. It envelopes you in tension. You realize everyone is hiding something, but you don’t know what. It stretches like that for a while. There’s a moment when I don’t know if I was impatient or the story was dragging a bit. However, I was satisfied when I finally got to unravel all the secrets.
There weren’t exactly gaps in the story. Nevertheless, I kept waiting for certain things to happen. I can't put my finger on it, but something wasn’t there. For instance, I would have loved to see Albertine with a bit more protagonism. She is Emery’s grandmother. She is pictured as an old wise woman with great magic. I felt she was going to interfere somehow, give a significant piece of advice to lead Emery in a certain direction, unravel part of the mystery—which I’m sure she knew about—or use her magic. I was waiting for a show of Saoirse women’s magic—I guess that’s the Fantasy fan in me talking. Apart from tea readings and a couple of signs and spells, there wasn’t much fantastical potential to go on. However, the story answered to the magical realism it was created around. So, even though I was expecting more of a Fantasy show, this is not necessarily a fault in the book.
What I did find missing was this:
- One of Emery’s eyes had a sort of star inside. It was said to mean she was born for something special. I’m not sure I understood what was special about her apart from having that magic running under her veins. What did I miss?
- I needed more insight into the characters, especially the secondary ones. I know this sounds backwards as there are protagonists for a reason. However, the former play a role into why things happened. I understood some of their motives, but there were others that acted more like puppets or got lost after ‘their contribution.’ All of Saoirse’s inhabitants make the island what it is. I wanted more of that.
- This may sound silly, but I would have included the title of epilogue in the last chapter. It felt a little abrupt how we went from the end of the present story into a future image.
On a last note, I’ve read some said having a chapter narrated from the island’s POV was crazy. I don’t agree. If we had multiple chapters like that, I would have found it weird. However, the island was the only real witness to one of the events that unleashed everything. It was Young’s way of letting us know the island was almost a living breathing thing. She is also a character, observing each person’s decisions, leading others to right wrongs, and judging and taking action to protect what’s hers.
Great tension, great setting, that’s what I take the most from this book. No matter our personal opinions, there’s no doubt Adrienne Young is an excellent writer.
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