Book Review: Spellbinding by Maya Gold

Maya Gold
Point, April 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-43380-8
Trade Paperback

Oh, how we all longed for our 16th birthday!  It meant freedom in the form of a driver’s license.  No longer at the mercy of busy parents, or snarky older siblings; we could go where we wanted, when we wanted, all while listening to whatever we wanted to.  Good times.

Abby Silva had those very same expectations, but her sixteenth birthday brought wicked nightmares, skull-splitting headaches and strange sensations.  Maybe manifestations created from the stress of preparing for her driving portion of the exam.  Maybe she is bipolar.  Maybe she has a brain disease.  Or, maybe something that has been dormant inside of her since birth, is rapidly emerging.  Abby doesn’t know what the problem is, only that something very strange is happening.

Oddly enough, an extra-credit assignment to create a family tree leads Abby towards the answers.  While she knew a bit of her father’s background; her mother died when Abby was only eleven.  She knew very little of her mother’s ancestors.  Imagine her shock and disbelief when she discovers that she is a direct descendant of an alleged witch, destroyed by the people of Salem in 1692.  Further research leads Abby to believe that her kin’s witchcraft was very real.  Is this the answer?  Is Abby a witch?

With a new door opened, Abby recalls recent oddities.  Her fervent wish that her driving test parallel parking was good enough to pass, immediately followed by shock and disbelief as the red cone seemed to move closer to the car’s bumper.  Ever the student, Abby quickly hits the library to research the phenomenon.  Among the dusty reference books, she discovers a small book filled with hand-written spells.  There is clearly only one way to test her theory, but which spell to try?

As Abby dabbles with her newfound power, the witches of Salem take notice.  As with humans, there are good witches and there are very, very bad witches.  It is up to Abby to determine which is which.  The wrong choice will have adverse consequences on the entire town of Salem and its surrounding areas.  All along the way, temptations are ruthlessly tossed her way, keeping her in a state of flux and she works to seek the truth.

I enjoyed this fast-paced, suspenseful story tremendously.  On the surface, it could be said that it is about a young witch with a tough decision; but, to me, there is so much more.  I found this to be a book of self-discovery.  Abby’s struggles are very real-life.  In the book, her rise to popularity is due to witchcraft, but in the real world; all teens go through this roller-coaster ride of fitting in.  We all had a moment in the sunshine, in addition to time in the shadows.  Once we got what we wanted, we had to decide if we really wanted it after all.  We had to stop focusing on the surface lives of the beautiful people to look deep within ourselves.  We were given opportunities that seemed easy, with guarantees of success.  We also had harder choices, the ones with no guarantees.  We all had the same bottom line: if I make this choice, am I being true to myself?

Spellbinding is a fun read with characters that elicit empathy and support, as well as a mysterious, suspenseful plot.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2013.