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Spellbound

Spellbound - Cara Lynn Shultz Originally reviewed on Book Brats!SPELLBOUND came recommended to me by a blogging friend– a fun story with the right mix of paranormal and romance. Or something like that, I can’t honestly remember. I’ve had it on my Kindle for months so I decided to open it up and read. To describe my experience in one word, I would have to say “average”. It was nothing special. Not good, not bad, just okay. Mixing the supernatural with a New York City day school for society’s elite children, SPELLBOUND is an interesting mix of catty drama and medieval curses. The problem is that it never uses its interesting bits to its advantage, leading to a story that is neither good nor bad – simply meh.Cara Lynn Shultz’s debut is the story of Emma, a high school girl who has lost her mother and left with a drunk stepfather. She moves in with her aunt and starts attending Vincent Academy, New York’s most expensive co-ed day school. There she meets Brendan, a boy who falls head over heels in love with her, and where Emma proceeds to make enemies with half the female student body – and with one boy who has it out for her after she turns him down. At the same time, Emma’s friendship with her lab partner (a witch) produces some interesting results – as in the keys to finding out she and Brendan are cursed soul mates destined to die over and over and over again.The instant attraction leads to instant love in this one. Within a week of their first date, Emma and Brendan are pledging their love for one another. It felt sort of contrived, like the fact that they were destined soul mates led to their romance more than actual chemistry. There was chemistry there, and Brendan was a bad boy who didn’t actually try and kill the main character (bonus points!!!!), but when I read a story, I want to feel like the evolution of love is natural, not guided by some notion that they are supposed to be together and that’s that. With Emma and Brendan, the moment they discovered according to an old book and some family legends that they were the real cursed deal, it was on. And I just didn’t buy it.SPELLBOUND does get bonus points for a good antagonist, even though he wasn’t used to his full potential. I wanted to know more about why the antagonist was so creepy crazy, and also why every parent at this school was completely oblivious to their children. Even Emma’s aunt was a very forgiving AND giving caretaker – she didn’t care about curfews and would shell out cash for whatever Emma wanted, from cabs to dresses for prom. She was a good motherly influence, something that YA needs more of in my opinion, but she was way too allowing in many cases.Shultz managed to craft a great idea – cursed love charting the centuries. While not the most original, especially in YA, I loved her twist that kind of mixed it with a family legend. What SPELLBOUND suffered was an overemphasis on high school clichés and not enough on the mechanics of the curse and Emma and Brendan’s future. For a story about magic and witches, there wasn’t that much magic involved – it wasn’t nearly paranormal enough. In addition, I wasn’t invested in the story as much as I had hoped, but I will be reading book two. VERDICT: A paranormal romance lacking a paranormal punch, SPELLBOUND is an average paranormal tale about girl meets boy meets ancient curse. With a great main character and cute romance, it’s a fast read, but not without flaws.