I started Spellcaster right after seeing Beautiful Creatures in theaters, which also follows a story about a witch who moves into a small town. I knew it wasn’t the best idea to read something pretty similar, but time restraints and scheduling made this happen. Obviously, I was hesitant when starting out Spellcaster. I hoped it wouldn’t be too similar to BC, and luckily it wasn’t. In fact, I preferred and enjoyed it more than I did Beautiful Creatures (the book). Claudia Gray cooks up a spellbinding story with a solid plot, mythology and characters.
Recently abandoned by her mother, Nadia, her father and little brother are leaving Chicago for a fresh start in the small town, Captive Sound. What her father and brother don’t know is that Nadia is a witch and has been studying the Craft with her mother for years. She’s still a novice, but she can sense and work magic. And there’s no doubt upon entering Captive Sound that the town is simmering with magic. A car crash into a magical barrier leads to Captive Sound resident Mateo saving her and helping her father and brother from the car wreck.
Mateo can’t believe that he just saved the girl he’s been dreaming about from the car wreck that he had envisioned for a while. It is part of his family’s curse to see the future, a curse that led each family member to go crazy and commit suicide. His mother was the last to have this burden, and Mateo is afraid that he inherited his family’s mental illness when he starts getting visions of Nadia and the future.
The book is written in third person, but switches perspectives between characters frequently. Nadia is the main narrator though, so it is her that we follow for the majority of the story. Nadia introduces us to the Craft, what she calls her magic and spells. I loved how the magic was produced in this book. It wasn’t just incantations and a mixture of oddball substances that we’ve read about time and time again. The magic has to come deep within one person. Each spell asked for a few emotions. When reciting the spell, Nadia would have to conjure up memories, and through these little instances, we learned a great deal about her. I must say that Gray does fine job at heightening the emotion when Nadia does the Craft. The whole thing feels extra special to the reader.
The setting was very familiar, as were a few other things, like the romance and some of the turn of events. The small town supernatural outcast thing has practically been done to death. It’s boring and sometimes makes certain moments easy to predict. Spellcaster does bring a solid plot and likable characters into the mix, even if that too has a tinge of familiarity. Besides when she works the Craft, nothing about Nadia struck me as different or extra special, same goes for Mateo when he’s not dealing with magic and the curse. So I found the romance that developed between to be sweet but a little forgettable. The villain, which I won’t say who that is, was diverting on occasion, but still was missing that zip of an awesome antagonist. My favorite character has to be Verlaine, another outcast who strikes a friendship with Nadia. Verlaine seemed to have the most personality of this group of characters, and I’m super curious to learn how magic has affected her past. It was her subplot that completely intrigued me, and if the sequel promises more on her and her story, well, I’m there.
Spellcaster is a good read, even if it’s not a great as I wanted it to be. However, it has some surprisingly moving moments and well-paced plot that makes it easy and enjoyable to read. The pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to this read.
Spellcaster by Claudia Gray will be available wherever books are sold on March 5th. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.