Publication Date; March 5th, 2013
When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.
Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them. Shimmering with magic and mystery, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray’s new novel is sure to draw fans of the Hex Hall and Caster Chronicles series, and fans of the hit CW TV show The Secret Circle.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
I will start this review by saying that although I had Spellcaster on my TBR, I wasn't eagerly awaiting it like a lot of bloggers I know. That's not to say I wasn't excited when it came in a random, unexpected package from HarperTeen one day. You see, although I'm not quite a fangirl of Claudia Gray's (yet), I am slightly familiar with her work, having read her werewolves-on-the-Titanic stand-alone, Fateful, which was very good. I've never read her wildly popular Evernight series, but I have to say that after reading Spellcaster and Fateful, I'm inclined to pick it up (if I ever get caught up on my review reading). That statement alone should tell you that I enjoyed Spellcaster; It did have a few problems for me, but overall, I thought it was a great read. So, without further ado...
I guess I will start with the things I didn't like, which are few. First off, I feel like HarperTeen let me down with that cover. I mean, it's okay and it's pretty, but I expect a lot more from them. The first thing I think of when I think of HarperTeen as a publishing house is that they consistently have the best, most eye-catching covers. I have more HarperTeen titles on my shelves for the covers alone, than any other publisher, and I've DEFINITELY read a huge number of their titles that I might not have otherwise read, because of the covers. (Yes. My name is Karis, and I am a cover whore.) The next thing on my list of "things that bothered me" was that I felt like the first third of the book was a bit on the predictable side. There were several things I saw coming a mile away. That said, after the first wildly unpredictable revelation, they really just kept coming, right up until the end. And that leads me to my final gripe, which is the ending. It's a doozie of a cliffhanger, and while I usually enjoy a well-done cliffhanger, I felt like this one was just cruel. I was left with so many unanswered questions, and really, no answers to speak of. So there are my "things I needed to bitch about". Now for the good stuff...
I really enjoyed Claudia's writing style. She writes in a kind of poetic way. I usually don't write down quotes, but I found myself doing just that while reading Spellcaster. My favorite? "Something else looked through the crow's stolen eyes and recorded it all. The crow flew on, unknowing, enslaved, and blind." That line made my skin crawl, and was definitely the one that hooked me. Also, Claudia doesn't dumb things down. She uses big words and in doing so, makes me feel like she believes her readers to be intelligent. That makes me happy. So much YA is written with content for teens and up, but at a 4th grade reading level. I love it when an author gives her readers some credit. They DO read books for FUN, for Heaven's sake. They must be smarter than average, right? I also loved the way this story flowed. For the most part, it moved at a pretty even pace that kept me turning pages well into the night. There were a few slow points, but in hindsight, they were necessary. The buildup really made the big moments stand out.
The characters and the story itself were the highlights of this book for me. The story was equally character driven and plot driven, so I'll start with the characters. I really liked Nadia and Mateo, and I loved Verlaine and Elizabeth. Nadia was interesting because she was so insecure, but so strong-willed at the same time. It was like she was in constant conflict with herself. As for Mateo, I found him a bit whiny at first. "Oh, the curse. Oh, I'm doomed to go crazy." Blah, blah. But it was like, once he found out that the curse was actually a real thing, he manned up, and then I liked him. Verlaine was headstrong and she made things happen, and I love characters like her. That girl had a tough life, but she never let her circumstances undermine her. Elizabeth was just... Well, read the book, and you'll see. The story? Well, it is a witch story, which is my favorite kind of Paranormal. That said, it was very unique (I don't think it is anything like Hex Hall or The Caster Chronicles, both of which I adored, by the way.). I was really intrigued by the idea of the Steadfast, and I thought it was brilliant that the ingredients for each spell were a series of personal memories. Witches could only gain strength as they lived life; That was cool. I also thought the rules of being a witch were interesting, and I am curious to see how they come into play in the next two books. I'm also quite intrigued with the mystery surrounding Nadia's mother, who is also a witch, and who unexpectedly left her family in the middle of Nadia's training. There was a lot of foreshadowing going on in reference to her, but no answers at the end. I predict she will play a huge role in the continuation of this story.
Overall, I thought this was a solid beginning to a trilogy that I am really going to enjoy right up to the end. I have a lot of unanswered questions right now, and although I find that somewhat bothersome, given my impatient nature, it guarantees that I will read book number two, Steadfast (March, 2014).
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Grade Level Recommendation: This book was pretty clean. There was some teen drinking, but other than that, it was pretty mild. There was very innocent romance, no sex (although it was alluded to at one point), and no language. I would say this book is fine for grades 6 and up (ages 11+).