I am on a bit of a YA kick lately, in case you can’t tell. It’s funny, I never read YA books when I was actually in the targeted age demographic, now they’re on my top five list of favorite genres. I recently finished Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz, which is due out on June 21st according to Amazon, June 28th according to Netgalley, so we’ll just say sometime near the end of June.
Spellbound tells the story of Emma Connor, a 16-year old girl who has had a pretty rough life. First her twin brother dies when she’s 14, then her mother passes away when she’s 15, but not before marrying a dreadful man so Emma will have someone to take care of her. Unfortunately, her step-father is a booze-swilling abusive jerk, and he gets into an accident while driving drunk with Emma in the car. Emma suffers such embarrassment from this at her school in NJ that she finally decides to take her wealthy aunt Christine up on her offer to come live with her in New York City.
In New York, Emma attends a posh private school for all of the city’s elite. Being the new girl is hard enough, but when the school’s biggest snob has it out for her and the cute guy that stood up for her is running hot and cold with her, it can become a downright nightmare. Then street lights start exploding where ever Emma goes, and she starts having dreams of a past life that is somehow connected to that cute guy, Brendan. Dreams that tell her to stay away from him because he’s dangerous. Dreams that Emma cannot ignore, yet cannot heed because of her intense attraction to Brendan.
While I usually lean more towards stories about teen witches, faeries, and other outright supernatural creatures, I do find past lives fascinating. I believe in reincarnation, and while I wouldn’t want to discover my past lives in quite the shocking manner that Emma does, the idea of knowing who I was before I was me definitely appeals to me. I’m kind of afraid I’ll find out I was something really boring, or worse, something scary, like a clown. Spellbound is a haunting tale of a love that transcends time, but the story itself is far from sappy. It’s definitely geared towards teenagers, but Shultz doesn’t overuse slang or pop-culture references, and I actually got most of the few pop-culture references that she did throw out there (Bouncing Souls and old-school Blink 182). Emma was a likable character, especially when she stood up for her little cousin without even giving it a second thought. Brendan was sort of the typical over-protective guy, but once his reasons emerge it makes sense. Overall, it was a really sweet story, and I recommend it to fans of YA paranormal romance.