About the Book

Title: Spellcaster (Spellcaster #1)
Published: 2013

Cover Story: Fancy… dress?
BFF Charm: YAY!
Talky Talk: Magically Delicious
Bonus Factors: The Craft, Scoobies
Relationship Status: Steadfast

 Cover Story: Fancy…dress?

Is that even a dress? Or is it just a bunch of tulle that poor girl has found herself swathed in? Either way, she is obviously perplexed by the blue flame spouting from her palm, and I can’t say that I blame her, because I’m pretty sure that tulle is highly flammable.

The Deal:

The moment Nadia arrived in Captive’s Sound, she knew it was filled with old, dark magic. And she’d know from magic, since she comes from a long line of women who practice the Craft. Unfortunately, her mom ditched her and her little brother with her dad before Nadia could complete her own training.

Mateo has lived his whole life in Captive’s Sound, enduring the whispers about his family being “cursed.” He doesn’t believe in curses, personally, but there’s no denying the fact that his mother went insane, and her father before her, and so on all the way back to the first Cabots who helped found the town centuries ago. Then the dreams start….

BFF Charm: YAY!

Yay BFF Charm

 Claudia Gray excels at creating strong, smart, resourceful female protagonists, and Nadia is no exception. The girl has a level head on her shoulders, and her independence is just a part of who she is, instead of seeming like she’s got something to prove.  

You know what I hate? I hate it when “strong female” translates into a girl who keeps running off to do things on her own, only to make terrible choices and need constant rescuing. So thank the sweet baby Jesus that Nadia is NOT one of those girls. She learns pretty quickly to rely on her Scoobies, but more on that later….

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Oh, the delights of the will-they-or-won’t-they scenario! I’m a sucker for tension, I admit it, and this book delivers a nice dose. Mateo is delightfully mysterious, and there are fluttery feelings aplenty between him and Nadia, intensified by the life-or-death nature of the story, of course.

Talky Talk: Magically Delicious

I’m not gonna lie: I liked Gray’s Evernight series, and I really liked Fateful,her novel about werewolves on the Titanic (WHAT?!! I KNOW!!), but with this book she’s found her stride. Gray writes from several third-person POVs—a nice break from all of the first-person narratives that dominate YA—and masterfully weaves their threads together like a spell all their own. This book was compelling, eerie and suspenseful—a real treat for this Urban Fantasy–weary adult reader of YA.

Bonus Factor: The Craft

The four teenage witches from The Craft

Magic and witchcraft have been done to death, obviously. However, Gray creates a great world in her story— one that adheres to more traditional mythology while also giving us a fresh take on it. And hallelujah, she didn’t make her spells into weird words (because while some of the spells in Harry Potter are a part of my personal lexicon, I’m not interested in learning new ones) OR write them as hokey poetry. Nadia’s spells, and the way she uses them, is kind of beautiful.

Bonus Factor: Scoobies

Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, Fred, and Scooby from Scooby-Doo

No Big Bad can stand against a group of friends who’re working together to defeat it! Seriously, every hero needs a Scooby Gang, and I’m happy to say this one’s awesome. Pretty much because of Verlaine, a prematurely gray, vintage-wearing, funny, smart and talented girl I wish were real, so I could be friends with her. Verlaine, I could never forget you.

Relationship Status: Steadfast

Okay, book, that was one mother of a cliffy you left me with, but I know that’s just the way things go. There’s no way I can learn your whole story until the series is finished. So when the next installment comes out, you bet I’ll be there to listen to more of your tale, and if I can, you know, magnify things at all, well, I’m your huckleberry.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from HarperTeen. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Spellcaster is available now.

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.