Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Published by HarperTeen
Published on 5 March 2013
Genres: Paranormal, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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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 legends say, 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 come 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. Shimmering with magic and mystery, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray's new novel depicts a dark and unforgettable world of witches, curses, buried secrets, and star-crossed romance.
I really enjoyed Spellcaster by Claudia Gray, narrated on audio by Khristine Hvam.
It’s about a teen witch called Nadia who has had her supernatural training interrupted by her mother’s sudden departure from her family, which leaves Nadia, her little brother Cole, and her Dad reeling, and moving to the quaint little Rhode Island town Captive Sound, where Nadia, in all her witchy wisdom, realises there is something supernaturally wrong.
This entire book is really well-crafted. It’s not just about Nadia trying to find her way in witchcraft, which she can’t speak to any male about, so her brother and dad are blissfully unaware. It’s not just a ridiculously cute and realistic romance with local cursed (literally) hottie Mateo, son of the local Mexican restaurant owner, and fellow motherless mongrel. There’s even a really lovely friendship between Nadia and outsider Verlaine, a retro-fashion loving aspiring journalist with silvery-grey hair who for some reason everyone kind of low key hates.
It’s part mystery, as Nadia and her two new buddies try to figure out who is behind the mysterious and supernaturally-laced sinkholes appearing around town. Why is there a magical barrier around Captive Sound? Is it another witch, and if so, what do they want? Can Nadia stop them from destroying the town?
I probably should have taken longer to savour this book, but it was so engaging and written so beautifully that I binge-listened to it, the audiobook equivalent of tasting a yummy cookie then stuffing my mouth full of them. Each character, even gossipy, annoying Kendall and arrogant jerk Jeremy had fully realised characterisation and motivations. The writing wasn’t exactly poetic but it flowed really well and was full of good imagery that really helped me visualise exactly what was going on as I was listening.
Hvam had a really great sense of storytelling. Even though it was from a third person point of view from many characters and could change on the page, Hvam changed her voice subtly to reflect who she was narrating. For example, Verlaine’s narration was casual, confessional, and almost breathless, whereas the villain’s (yes, the villain had a narrative point of view!) narration was much more intense, seductive, and disdainful.
I loved the concept of spellcasting in this novel. Spells recipes are made up of memories, and witches are grounded by earth elements like jewels and gems – convenient jewellery for modern-day witches. I’ve read my fair share of spellcasting fiction, and of course I grew up on Charmed and Sabrina, so I was pleased to see no rhymed or Latin chanting, and instead this really unique take on spellcasting. I think that sets it apart from other teen witch stories.
One element that I really liked was the distinct lack of mothers for our little trio. Nadia’s mother abruptly left her family, and Nadia absolutely hates her for it. Mateo’s mother allegedly commit suicide some years before, driven mad by the prophetic curse haunting his family. Verlaine’s parents both died when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by her gay uncles/dads. No mothers in sight! Perhaps this is because if their mothers were around, none of this would have happened.
I really enjoyed Spellcaster and I think it’s a solid, dependable read for anyone who likes paranormal YA fiction. This was my first Claudia Gray book but it definitely won’t be my last.