Published 2011 339 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Savannah Levine is in danger. That's not usually a problem. But, caught in the grip of a disturbing and violent murder case, Savannah swore to give up her unique gifts if it would save an innocent young girl. Little did she know that someone - or something - was listening... Now she has no idea how to restore her powers, just when she needs them the most.
Savannah has to face a host of deadly enemies bent on destroying not only her, but the very fabric of the supernatural world. As dark forces gather, Savannah isn't just fighting for her life, but for everything and everyone she loves...
Spell Bound is the twelfth book in Kelley Armstrong’s bestselling Otherworlds urban fantasy series. Series fans will be aware that unlike most long-running fantasy series the Otherworlds books actually work quite well as self-contained stories – with the author swapping out narrators every other book to bring new storylines and perspectives to the series. Spell Bound is something of a departure from the usual format because it is not a self-contained story and reads more like the second part of a trilogy. It is vitally necessary to have read Waking The Witch before reading Spell Bound.
The previous book in this series, Waking The Witch, introduced readers to Savannah Levine, a powerful young witch who was undertaking her first solo investigation for the Council (the governing body of supernatural races.) Savannah solved the mystery and indentified the murderer but in the closing pages of the story lost all of her magical powers. Spell Bound starts up from exactly where Waking The Witch left off with Savannah trying to track down the witch hunter who tried to kill her in the previous story instalment. This time Savannah isn’t on her own, she has her best friend (and not-so-secret-crush) Adam to help her track down the bad guys.
Savannah is young – only 21 years old – and as such she is a little immature and lacks the confidence of Armstrong’s older female protagonists. Losing all her magical powers knocks Savannah’s confidence in her abilities and this, combined with the general insecurity of an adopted child worried her family won’t value her any more, does make her a little angsty. Her relationship with Adam is another area of insecurity, with several scenes devoted to “Will he kiss me?”, “Should I kiss him?” and “Oh no, Adam’s not speaking to me”… In places Savannah may come off sounding more like a teenager than an adult as she works her way through the loss of her witch powers but in no way is Spell Bound a YA story. The subject matter is all adult, with a complex mystery and several horror scenes.
My main criticism of this novel would be that none of the plotlines are resolved in the story, hence my earlier comment about the book reading like the second part of a trilogy. The story has no real beginning because it carries on straight from the events of Waking The Witch, more mysteries and characters are heaped into the story (there are some doom-laden whispers of a supernatural war, and hints that Savannah will have a big part to play) but nothing is finished at the end of the book. Readers will have to buy the next part of the series in order to (hopefully) get some resolution.
Spell Bound is an enjoyable read but it isn’t a good as some of the author’s earlier series offerings. The author does a lot of character building in this book with Savannah’s character getting the most treatment. While it is interesting to see Savannah growing up from a bratty child to a woman, some of her angst is more related to teen reading, which may put older readers off. For me the obtuse mystery that gets increasing complex and yet remains unsolved was more of a turn-off, since I expected to see the story in some way finished. And let’s face it – just because a book is the middle part of a trilogy or series is no excuse for taking readers nowhere.
Summing up – Spell Bound is an entertaining, if a little slow, read. Hopefully this book is paving the way to great things and big plot developments in the next series instalment. For vampire fans, Cassandra Du Charme makes a welcome reappearance in her role as the snarky, bored and self-centred vampire leader. The book is worth reading for her scene-stealing parts alone…
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As well as excerpts from her published novels Kelley Armstrong has many original short stories and a novella about the characters and creatures from her published books on her website (just follow the Extras link to ‘Online Fiction’.) Visit Kelley’s website.