Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Spellcaster - Claudia Gray

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray
Series: Spellcaster #1
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance
Published on March 5, 2013
Published by Harper Teen
Pages: 389
Read From: 2.16.14 - 2.18.14

When Nadia's family moves to Captive's Sound, she instantly realizes there's more to the place than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia can sense that a spell has been cast over the tiny Rhode Island town - a sickness infecting everyone and everything in it. The magic at work is darker and more powerful than anything she's come across and has sunk its claws most deeply into Mateo. . . .her rescuer, her friend, and the guy she yearns to get closer to even as he pushes her away. 

Mateo has lived in Captive's Sound his entire life, shadowed by small-town gossip and his family's tormented past. Every generation, the local legend says, one member of the family goes mad, claiming to know the future before descending into insanity. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl from a car accident actually comes true, he knows he's doomed. 
Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his terrible family curse, and to prevent a coming disaster that even now threatens the entire town, including Nadia's family, her newfound friends, and her own life.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I suppose that, despite the character impersonator, I do like the cover art. The dress is so pretty! And actually, as far as character impersonators go, this one does look something like how I imagined Nadia.

Characters: Nadia has a bad propensity to blame herself for everything that goes wrong. And yes, it does get a little old after a while. That being said, Nadia also isn’t a bad protagonist. She’s smart, quick to notice things, and she’s a very loyal friend. I couldn’t help but like her, despite her tendency to take the blame about, well, everything. Verlaine offered up some comic relief with her rather dark sense of humor and “take life as it comes” attitude. I definitely didn’t dislike her, but I kind of get the sense that she might begin to grate on my nerves in future books. I don’t know why, because I usually love characters like her – very much into vintage, sarcastic, an outcast. But with Verlaine, I just have that feeling. Mateo is a very nice young man. While not the most memorable male character I’ve encountered, he’s not all that bad, either. He’s got all of the trademark gallantry and honesty. And double points for him: when he gets angry and storms off about stuff (and he does that several times), it doesn’t take him very long to see sense, and he apologizes. Now Elizabeth, the villainess. She’s . . . . moderately terrifying. Since she is not the principle villain in the series, but a secondary servant for The Villain, her over confidence and tendency to boast was acceptable.

The Romance: Yes, Mateo and Nadia become involved. But the romance actually isn’t all that bad – I in fact very much enjoyed their relationship! In the case of this first book in a series, at least, the romance is not overwhelming or horribly rushed. The Author spends more time on the plot itself rather than swamping everything in mooney-eyed ridiculousness. The attraction is definitely there, and they’re a pretty solidified couple by the end of it, but there are no mushy details, and their affection, while at first stems from physical attraction (there is nothing wrong with noticing someone; just don’t claim that you’re in love when that’s all you know about them), deepens through their fight with Elizabeth.

Plot: Nadia is descended from a long line of witches, and is one herself, just like her mom. In fact, her mom is the one that has been training her. Nadia’s dad and little brother don’t know anything about it. Men cannot know about magic or the doings of witches. So when Nadia’s mom suddenly packs up and leaves them, she’s left alone in her training or even understanding what she’s going through as a budding witch. Her dad decides to move them to Captive’s Sound, for a fresh start. But when their car crashes because of a magical barrier set up around Captive’s Sound that senses Nadia’s presence, things take a very dark turn for Nadia. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound all his life, as have his ancestors. He’s the victim of an ages-old family curse that causes them to go insane from future-telling dreams. Mateo hopes that he has escaped the curse – until he has a dream about Nadia’s car crash, leading to his timely arrival to rescue them. Now Nadia and Mateo must investigate the almost sickly aspect of Captive’s Sound, and who put a curse on Mateo’s family in the first place. This is sort of a mystery, though the villain – Elizabeth – is revealed so quickly that I don’t consider is a spoiler. But the rest of the plot is spent with Nadia, Mateo, and Verlaine – another friend Nadia makes quite by accident – trying to figure out what, exactly, Elizabeth is up to. It’s surprisingly engaging. From the very beginning, Spellcaster takes off with a lot of excitement and foreboding and creepiness. It’s relatively predictable, but a fun sort of predictable. And there were times when it gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. This gave us an opportunity to not only follow Nadia, Verlaine, and Mateo, but Elizabeth as well. The writing was, of course, modern. This is a modern-based story. But it also has a very creepy, dark ambiance to it that made the story very engaging.

Content: Beyond some scary images, nothing.

Conclusion: It was surprisingly not drawn out or ridiculously perilous. It also really makes you want to pick up Book #2, Steadfast. I don’t really know why, but I’m actually a bit of a fan of “witch fiction.” A historical setting is always most desired, but isn’t necessary. I took a bit of a risk with Spellcaster, because it sounded like it would be more romance and less paranormal. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was really fun! Not my favorite witch series, but still really fun. And scary.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, good for fans of witch fiction, and paranormal romance that is more paranormal, less romance.

Others in This Series:

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