“SPELLBOUND,” by Cara Lynn Shultz, Harlequin, June 21, 2011, $9.99 (young adult)
Sometimes what a person needs is a chance to start over, to get away from their past and get a fresh start.
And a fresh start is just what Emma Conner could use. Life hasn’t been easy for the 16-year-old. She’s lost both her brother and mother, and her stepfather isn’t what you’d call a caring guardian. So Emma has decided to move in with her aunt in New York, hoping for a quiet, uneventful existence.
But the move to New York can’t keep Emma out of school. She has to finish that no matter where she lives, and living on the Upper East Side means attending an exclusive prep school.
At least Emma has her younger cousin to show her the ropes. If only everyone was a nice. Emma can’t even make it halfway through her first day before she finds herself with an enemy. She also finds herself inexplicably drawn to a fellow student — Brendan Salinger, the richest kid in school who may also be the hottest.
There’s no doubt that Brendan is paying Emma some extra attention, but his mood toward Emma seems to change as frequently as music on the radio. That doesn’t thwart Emma’s interest, though. Strange things have been happening since the first time they met — exploding streetlamps, nightmares and visions of herself in past lives. Someone or something is trying to warn Emma, if only she can decide about what.
“Spellbound” is spellbinding, catching the reader’s attention from the beginning. There’s nothing high-literature about it, but that’s OK. “Spellbound” is an engrossing read throughout. The characters are, for the most part, predictable, but they are fleshed out well, as is the plot.
Author Cara Lynn Shultz does a fine job setting each scene and she captures both teenage voice and angst well. The action in her final scenes feels a bit rushed, but it does seem in keeping with her driving pace. Of particular note is Cara’s use of a story within a story, which some will feel carries greater appeal than the larger story as a whole.