(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Magic runs thicker than blood.
Misfortune seems to follow the Sayers family. Georgia has tried endlessly to reestablish normality since her mother died, and she’s no closer from escaping her strange past when a mysterious fire destroys the only other high school in her tiny Texas town. Georgia is thrown into the company of Luke, a cryptic senior who brings her face to face with the truth about her heritage. Her loving, perfect mother created her family for the singular purpose of birthing five of the most powerful witches in the world, capable of terrifying magic. Now that she knows the truth, can Georgia keep her siblings safe?
Who is behind the dark cult that’s after her family? And does Luke know more about her powers than even she does?
[Full disclosure: I received a free print book through Masquerade Tours’ Reader Round-Up program in exchange for an honest review.]
One of the things that initially attracted me to Spelled was not the cover, but the blurb. It’s pretty common to have a girl that doesn’t fit in living in a small town as a main character but a seemingly evil (but now dead) mother? Four siblings all possessing unusually strong magical powers due to selective breeding? That sounded a lot more unique than your typical YA novel so I decided to give it a try.
I was far from disappointed in the characters. Georgia isn’t the most unique character ever but she stands out from a crowd and Kate St. Clair has made her a three dimensional, believable character. She loves her family to death and will do anything to protect her siblings, especially from the legacy of their mother, who was nearly burned alive as a witch in the modern day. We don’t know much about her mother in the beginning but as the story goes on and the tension and sense of foreboding ratchet up we learn far more about the Sayers family’s sordid past. What’s interesting about Spelled is that St. Clair decided to show us a lot of the developments that caused Georgia to change but we don’t really see that gradual change (that happens more off-screen). Instead, we’re shown how she is later and while it makes sense considering how short the book is, it was a little disappointing for someone like me who likes to see a little more on-screen character development.
The plot was okay in general but it was pretty typical. A girl in a small town meets a hot guy who seems to already know her/like her and they get to know one another and he eventually reveals to her that she’s special, i.e. she has powers of some sort. I don’t mind that plot if there’s some variation but Kate St. Clair really didn’t have all that much variation within that typical plot arc. That was the sort of disappointing element of the story for me. I expected something a little more unique, a little more imaginative. Still, it was fast-paced and although I sort of predicted the ending, I didn’t predict everything that happened in the end.
The world-building was actually fairly decent. In Spelled at first you think the Sayers family has pretty typical witch powers but that’s not necessarily true. They were created to be powerful and they are powerful but they’re not completely the same as the average witch you’ll encounter in YA. Because the book is so short and they don’t know they’re witches from the start we don’t get to learn as much about them as I’d like but I saw enough that I can say I understood the essentials of how their powers worked and why they didn’t show up earlier. Again, considering the fact that Spelled is quite a short novel (and the author does call it a novella), Kate St. Clair did a pretty good job with her world-building.
Essentially, Spelled is an okay book. It’s not the greatest I’ve ever read but it’s certainly not the worst. It’s pretty much in the middle of the two extremes and if you like YA stories featuring witches, I would recommend it for you.
I give this book 4/5 stars.