ARC Review, Book Review

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young


A rural island community steeped in the mystical superstitions of its founders and haunted by an unsolved murder is upended by the return of the suspected killer in this deeply atmospheric novel.

Emery Blackwood’s life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Now, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence among the community that fractured her world in two. She’d once longed to run away with August, eager to escape the misty, remote shores of Saiorse Island and chase new dreams; now, she maintains her late mother’s tea shop and cares for her ailing father. But just as the island, rooted in folklore and tradition, begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that no one wants to remember.

August Salt knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night that changed everything. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from the past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises that span generations threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily’s death once and for all.

Evocative and compelling, Spells for Forgetting is a vivid exploration of lost love and the unraveling of a small town and its many secrets.

This story has mixed feelings for me. There were some aspects that I liked but others that I felt feel short. This story had a strong idea, but I do not think it lived to its expectations. I recently noticed the author’s first couple of novels were young adult and to be honest this makes sense on the feel of the story. Also, I want to point out; I have never read the author’s previous works and cannot compare the two.

Instead of an adult novel, this story had more of a “new adult” feel. The characters were supposed to be somewhere in their early thirties, but they felt younger, as if the author wrote them to be in their early or mid-twenties. The flashbacks did not help with this matter. Sometimes, after reading the flashbacks, you could not feel the difference between the age gaps.   

Emery Blackwood and August Salt were the main characters in this story. Both have experienced changes after the dreadful night in their teens, and which still haunts them today. Sadly, I think the two could have been flushed out more. They both felt flat, and I honestly did not get attached to them. Did their characters change throughout the story? I cannot honestly tell. Maybe Emery grew a little. August, I am uncertain. Like I mentioned above, the characters, especially Emery, felt younger than what their ages were supposed to be. I know that is life and some act older or younger. I know I am told I act more mature. But I think it was the whining that got me more than anything.

Saoirse is a small island supposedly rooted with folklore and magic. I did like the fact the island felt like a character of its own. Giving small signs to Emery now and then. Unfortunately, I felt like there was not enough. The folklore and magic could have driven the mystery and suspense. It did not need to be overpowering. But it could have been another main character. Sometimes the magic and folklore felt like an afterthought saying, hey, I am still here or a convenience. You can take what the author wrote in the story out, and still had a story.  

Because it was based on an island, everyone knows everything. Most of the families have been living on the island for many generations. As a reader, you get the sense that the island and the head of the families are holding numerous secrets which can cause damages. This is the mystery that is holding the island together. How many secrets is the island holding? No one truly knows. I wish this could have been dug deeper, too.

This was a good story. I did like the mixed genres but wanted more. I did not feel satisfied. I would recommend this to those who enjoy reading cozy mystery, romance, and magic realism.   

*I received an ARC from NetGalley, and this is my honest opinion.

I give this book a 2/5

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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