Addie's Reviews > Spellcaster

Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz
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Mar 23, 12

bookshelves: sequels, ya-paranormal

Spellcaster is the sequel to Spellbound, a book I just recently got around to actually reading and reviewing. Although I wasn't the biggest fan of Spellbound, I decided to go ahead and read Spellcaster anyway. And, may I just say, once I knew what I was getting myself into, I actually enjoyed this book more than the first one.

The books focus around Emma Connor, a naturally-talented witch living in New York (I think it's New York?), and her boyfriend Brendan. The first book's premise - which I personally found ridiculous - was that they are reincarnated soul mates cursed for eternity. The curse was broken with eye-rolling, big-huge-groan ease, and the books are essentially low-stakes romance novels with a little bit of magic thrown in there so that the books don't become oversaturated with make-out scenes (not that that tactic works, because there are a lot of make-out scenes). In Spellcaster, Emma and Brendan are being plagued by an evil fellow-highschool-witch named Megan, who... likes to be evil for one reason or another.

The plot of Spellcaster certainly wasn't earth-shattering, but then, I didn't go into it expecting my earth to be shattered. The books are light - cotton-ball light, and for that they do exactly what they're supposed to. However, something that frustrates me about light books that also deal with "magic" in its various forms, is how low the stakes are. In both of Schultz's books, the antagonists are nothing more dangerous than pissy teenagers - in this case, at least Megan has magic powers too. But the conflicts feel so small, and that makes it difficult for me to engage. I need to feel worried about the characters, and these books don't do that. The stakes are so low that I feel Schultz could even have written these books without the magic - despite the fact that that's the only interesting element of the plot.

Emma is sadly less of a snark shark in this book than the first one. While Spellbound was peppered with clever witticisms that at least kept my eyes open, Spellcaster was a bit dry on the jokes in comparison. Now that Brendan and Emma are officially a "thing", there was a lot more swooning involved. Still, I maintain the opinion that she's a likable enough heroine, if bland.

Brendan, on the other hand, retains the same level of eye-numbing perfection through the book - seriously, it's headache-inducing. I understand the genre that this book falls under: Harlequin Romance for Teens. I get it, I get it. But forgive me - I expect a little more from my leading men. I'm so critical of them, because authors seem so reluctant to create a male character with flaws and personality. It's like they're afraid we "won't believe the lead girl would fall in love with a guy with a temper/tongue/brain." Here's the thing: it happens every day. Nobody is perfect. Yet people fall in love all the time anyway. Seriously.

As a secondary character - thankfully not the third corner of a love triangle! - Angelique, Emma's best friend, has an expanded role in this book, and I loved her for it. She's a character with some interest, some attitude, and some traits, and I love that. As far as Goth/witch don't-hug-me characters go, she's a pretty standard specimen, but her one-liners and constant game of one-upmanship with her cousin were probably the best parts of the book for me.

As I mentioned before, the writing in Spellcaster seemed a bit dry compared with Spellbound. I guess it's a game of give-and-take. This book had a less ridiculous plot, and more Angelique - the first book was funnier. Because plot is so important to my enjoyment of a story, I'm going to forgive it for that. Maybe.

One other thing about the writing that irked me is that Angelique gets a POV chapter. Just one. And it comes out of nowhere. Now, I already said that I like Angelique; why would this bother me, then? Simply because it's bad writing, folks. Nothing absolutely necessary to the plot or characters was introduced in her POV chapter. While I enjoyed being in her head, it was jarring. We've spent 2 whole books in Emma's perspective - the sudden shift was pointless and it made me on edge, expecting that there might be other Angelique chapters. While I wouldn't mind an Angelique-themed spin-off (haha) I couldn't help but feel that was out of place, and just a way for Schultz to showcase Brendan's sappy "oh so heroic" love for Emma (which, by the way, I find vaguely disingenuous and nauseating).

Overall, I think Schultz improved on a couple of things - plot, pacing, and laying off on the Twilight-rip-offs - but that other elements had to suffer for it as well. Ultimately, it came out to be the same in terms of quality for me. While I'm not the biggest fan of cotton candy books (and this is definitely a cotton candy book), I think it's probably a good pool-side confection. It has its ups, and its downs, and if you're not as picky as me about male characterization and the use of perspective, you might enjoy it.

One more thing - the cover has a blonde girl on it. What's with that? Emma repeatedly states that she has brown hair. Are brunettes too boring to put on book covers? Huh? Huh, marketing department? Are we not good enough for you?

Sincerely, a Brunette.

Premise/Originality: 0.5 Stars

Plot: 0.5 Stars

Characters: 0.5 Stars

Writing: 0 Stars

Enjoyability: 1 Star

Total: 2.5 / 5 Stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for allowing me to pre-read this title.
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