2013 Reads: Twelve {Spellbinding - Maya Gold}

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This was a tough one for me to get through, so let's get going with this, okay? 


Abby Silva is sixteen and practically an outcast at her high school. Her mom died when she was younger and her father rarely notices her. Her best friend, Rachel, is also her tutor. She can't swim and is having awful nightmares and migraines. She has a huge crush on a popular football player named Travis who happens to be dating a very cruel, bullying girl named Megan.

For a class project, Abby is asked to research her family lineage. Surprise! She is able to trace her genealogy back to the Witch Trials in Salem. Interested in learning more about her background, Abby heads across the river to Salem to get a closer look at her family's past. However, after her first visit to Salem, mysterious and terrifying events begin to unfold. As a descendent of a witch, Abby soon learns that there is magic in her blood.

When a spell-book somehow appears in her possession, Abby concocts a love potion to lure Travis to her. She dabbles in spells and hexes and charms, intrigues and scared by her developing powers. She can make candles burst into flame with just a thought or move traffic cones to help her pass her driving test. Meanwhile the shy and gorgeous Rem is fighting to keep Abby away from the magic that is developing within her.

Caught between two worlds - magic and non - and two boys - Travis and Rem - Abby has a lot of decisions to make. And both her heart and her world hang in the balance. 


Okay, let's start with the good for this first, okay?

Then we can move onto the problems I had with this book. That sounds like a good plan, right?

What I really liked was how quick moving this book was. Honestly, I was never wanting for action to happen. Abby was constantly getting into something, or going somewhere, or discovering something. Which meant I was always really intrigued about what the next thing was going to be. For all the problems I had with the book, the pacing was perfect and kept me engaged with the storyline.

Also, I really liked the premise of this book as well. It wasn't executed perfectly, but the storyline that Maya Gold crafted for Abby to venture out on was fairly unique, and I was interested to see where she was going with her book.

Now, for the problems I had with this book. We'll do it in list form, because I don't want to repeat myself:

1. Every current popular literary trope was used in the writing of this novel: Dead parent. Love Triangle. "The Chosen One." Nerd/Outcast turned Popular. A gaggle of mean girls who will eventually get their comeuppance. Nerd/Outcast with super amazing powers. Makeover that suddenly makes the Nerd BEAUTIFUL. Prom. Dad dating someone new. Brother is a soccer star. Etc. Etc. Etc.

2. Characterization: there was none of it. Every single character felt flat to me. Abby was boring (and petty, and selfish, and angsty). Rem was a pretty boy who was also a witch. Megan was so much the stereotypical mean girl (with her two henchwomen) that it was almost completely unbelievable. I just felt like no character was ever developed past a superficial description. There was no growth for any characters.

3. Her Parents: Why/When/How did her mom die? All we're ever told is that mom is dead. Nothing else. What was the point of this? It doesn't even seem to affect her when she mentions it in passing. And her dad? How is she okay with the fact that her dad overlooks her constantly. There's no sadness or angst over her dad barely noticing she's alive until she gets all dressed up for prom. And then he's insanely proud of his daughter for being pretty? I just can't buy that.

4. Travis: Honestly, a love potion? Okay, I get it. She's a witch, a love potion is totally something a 16 year old girl would make if she could. But Abby never mentions/thinks about how awful it is to only have his affection because she forced it on him. Her first kiss as a result of a love potion? Why does this not seem like a really crappy situation to her? Why is she so proud that she's made Megan jealous via magic? Yes, I get it. 16 year old girl. But, really?

5. The ending: ANTICLIMACTIC. I won't go into any details, in case you start this book yourself. But, I was so let down by this ending.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. But it was so full of literary cliches and was endlessly predictable that I had a hard time taking it seriously. I can see a middle school reader really loving this book, though. They'll fall in love with Rem, be intrigued by Travis (and the love potion!), and wish that they could trace their family lineage back to Salem and wake up with magical powers one day.

However, as a self-proclaimed history geek who lives in New England? I did enjoy the peek at the Salem Witch Trials. I also enjoyed that I know/have been to a lot of the places that Abby goes to in Spellbinding. So, that was at least fun.


I received this galley from the publisher/NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or swayed my review, honest! 

Title: Spellbinding
Author: Maya Gold
Publisher: Scolastic Point
Release Date: 1 April 2013
Genre: YA; Fantasy; 
Medium: eARC 
Date Read: 11 March 2013
Source: NetGalley
Recommended For: MS +; YA Fantasy lovers; Those looking for a quick and easy read
Challenge: Goodreads

First Line: The girls shriek and writhe on the floor of the meetinghouse, tearing their hair, their white aprons. 
Favorite Line: "It's no wonder the queen of the monkeys feels threatened." 
Last Line: "Let's go swimming." [whited out, for spoiler's sake]


  1. Ouch :/ So bummed to hear you didn't enjoy this one all that much... I got this from Netgalley as well and am yet to read it xD I tried the first chapter and put it down after 8 pages. Now reading your review I'm kind of terrified to read it. If there's anything that bothers me its cliches >.< I mean cant people be original? Why must it always be the same back story and situations but with different executions and interpretations? Great review!! :)

    1. It's not AWFUL. It's just not that good? Does that make sense? I felt bad for skimming it, but I realized just HOW cliche it was about half way through (don't get me wrong, it was cliched before that point, I guess I just hadn't reached my limit of how many cliches I was willing to deal with until that point!) - and then I just felt like I had to finish it. With a decent editor and someone to reign the author in it could have been a pretty good book!

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