Book Review: Spell Book & Scandal by Jen McConnel

Title: Spell Book & Scandal
Author: Jen McConnel
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult


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Spell Book & Scandal
Jen McConnel
Jen McConnel, October 2017

From the author—

Shelby King is tired of living in her sister’s shadow. Just because Christina is the most powerful caster in school doesn’t mean Shelby’s any good at magic; she’s a scribe, like her mom, and everyone expects her to write spells for her sister, the way her mom always has for her dad. But Shelby’s spells fail spectacularly, and by the time she’s a sophomore, Christina won’t touch them with a ten-foot-pole; their parents aren’t much better. Shelby is fed up, and she decides to show the world she doesn’t care if she isn’t as good as her stuck-up sister, or as talented as their powerful parents. In fact, she decides it’s time to break all the rules, magical and otherwise, and she starts sneaking out to meet Jeremiah Smallwood, the second-best caster in school at illegal pop-up spell battles around town. She may not be able to scribe for him, but she doesn’t mind letting him think that she could; Shelby’s been half in love with Miah as long as she can remember, but he’s never paid attention to her until now, and she’s not going to risk her chances worrying about a pesky thing like the truth. But when Christina rats her out to their parents, Shelby can’t control her anger, and words come pouring out of her that she can’t take back even if she wanted to, threatening Christina’s future…and Shelby’s own chances with Jeremiah. It’ll take more magic than Shelby’s ever dreamed of to set things right, but no scribe has that much magic…right?

When it comes to witchy sorts of things, you might think the person casting the spell is the most important player but that’s not the case in this story. Here, it seems the person who actually writes the spell is the power behind the throne, so to speak but that person, known as a scribe, has no magic and, therefore, no power. Still, writing the correct spells should be really important but poor Shelby isn’t really very good at it.

Then, Shelby gets a chance to write spells for Jeremiah—or, at least, pretend to—and working outside of her family seems to be just the ticket until she inadvertently writes a spell that causes the unthinkable to happen. Anger has gotten the better of Shelby and, all of a sudden, she and her despicable older sister, Christina, have to work together to fix the massive cluster-you-know-what they’re in.

This book is a lot of frothy fun, starting with the premise that normal people and magic people co-exist and, in this case, go to high school together. Shelby is an appealing character (despite her self-pity party) and so is Jeremiah except I’m not sure if he might just be using Shelby. I hope we’ll find out in the next book 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

About the Author

Award-winning author Jen McConnel writes NA, YA, and nonfiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on her yoga mat or wandering off on another adventure. Visit to learn more.

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