Spellbound (Spellbringers #1) by Tricia Drammeh (4.3 Stars)

The Book

There are two narrators in this story, Alisa Cole and Rachel Stephens.

Alisa is the school’s outsider. She cannot disappear, as her cousin Becky is the main oppressor – especially after new boy Jace Alexander arrives, whom every girl immediately crushes on, and Alisa can’t escape it either. Alisa knows there is something different about Jace even before she sees that he is attacked by a Hunter on his way home from school, and she saves his life. Jace comes from a magically gifted family, a people called Spellbringers. As she saved his life, she is welcomed into the family, but there is one exception to the welcome, Jace’s brother Bryce. Bryce is cold, distanced, and seems to want nothing more than to see Alisa leave the family alone, ignorant of their powers.

Rachel is one of the populars at school. In fact, she is Becky’s best friend, and not seldom involved in Alisa’s, as well as others, bullying. But she also keeps a secret from everyone around her. When, at a high school dance, she is asked to dance by Jace, they have an immediate, magical connection. Rachel is an Innocent, a Spellbringer who didn’t know about her magical heritage, and the Alexanders had moved to town to find her, teach her, and introduce her into the magical community.

Why I Read The Book

I’m not exactly sure why I read the book. I think I downloaded it out of boredom. (I would like to state at this point that the name “Jace”, and one’s immediate connection to The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, had absolutely nothing to do with my decision. No way!) I shouldn’t even have wanted to read the book, since it clearly offered a love triangle between Jace, Alisa, and Rachel, and I don’t like them (I might have mentioned). Well, I may also have read the summaries to the other two books in the series, by which time I decided that I wanted to read the entire series.

The Idea

Magic. I must admit that I am currently not too familiar with the magic side of young adult fiction. Since I am always open for new subgenres, here I am. The Spellbringers sounded interesting, especially since they never painted their people as a blissful community, but the dangers of being one of them are shown immediately – as Alisa saves Jace from a Hunter. Naturally, I wasn’t drawn by the idea of a love triangle, but the dark and brooding Bryce gave hope that it wouldn’t be everlasting, and I was curious how the change in feelings, both in Bryce and Alisa, came about – especially since Jace and Bryce are brothers. Lastly, I was curious about the narration-style, giving two main narrators and storylines.

Characters

Alisa opens the novel by narrating the first chapter. She was my favourite character in the novel, particularly because I could relate to her in so many ways. She is shy, an outsider, unable to form a coherent sentence with peers she considers above and beyond her. At the same time, when she doesn’t think about what she is doing, she is undeniably brave. Her development throughout the novel is interesting to see, as the friendship with Jace brings her out of her shell, and her budding romance with Bryce shows unanticipated courage.

Rachel is the second leading and narrating character of the novel. She comes from a good, Christian upbringing, and has spent her childhood wanting nothing. At the beginning of the story, she is one of the populars, but already questions their ways. However, while she sees the wrong, she doesn’t attempt to stop the bullying until several chapters into the story, when, especially through her relationship with Jace and her beginning friendship with Alisa, she is eliminated from the clique. I had a hard time following Rachel’s thoughts, due to her jumping opinions between wanting to be part of the magical world, and not wanting to disappoint her mother and her upbringing. She couldn’t make up her mind which side to choose. I disliked that she didn’t take her role as a powerful Spellbringer serious enough, almost willingly putting herself and others in danger.

Jace is the heartbreaker of the story. The moment he arrives at school, all the girls are in love with him. He, however, doesn’t appear to rely on being swooned over, but is a fair judge of character – by not giving into Becky’s advances and actually talking to Alisa. The problem is that we are introduced to him mainly through Alisa, who is instantly convinced to be in love with him. With the further development of the story, he becomes less and less perfect. While he undoubtedly is a fair judge of character and is protective of his friends, he has a problem listening to authority, is easily swept away by new ideas and distractions, and quickly influenced.

Bryce only becomes a regular character in the second half of the book. Upon first introduction, he is dark and angry, with an unhealthy dose of dislike towards humans. He has the biggest development curve out of all the characters in this novel. He is slipping towards the dark side of magic, and only by finding an anchor, a mate, will he keep to the side of good. He remains a bad boy, being moody and possessive, a little too forward and direct in taking what he wants. At the same time, due to loss and slipping, he is insecure beyond belief when offered something from the side of goodness. He is a difficult person, and hard to form an initial liking with.

Abe and Jerica are Jace and Bryce’s parents. They are highly ranked in the magical community. Additionally, they are incredible parents, always nice, always good-humoured, and, I dare say, a little too perfect.

Realization and Writing Style

Waiting led to thinking. Thinking led to daydreaming. Daydreaming led to trouble.

I loved just about everything about this book. It was well-written, had good characters, followed a straight line, and didn’t allow any reading breaks. It allowed me only one afternoon and evening to finish.

I know I am jumpy when it comes to making favourite supernatural communities, but the Spellbringers come awfully close to the top. From book one, they are fully developed, there is a good side to being a part of them, and there is a bad side to being a part of them. There is a learning curve for the younger generations, the control of their magic is not through intuition and tapping in at will. Furthermore, they don’t rely on their magic for everything, especially since everyone is gifted differently and “household-magic” is not included. They actually practice real hand-to-hand combat. I enjoyed everything, and soaked it up, that concerned survival for being a Spellbringer.

It was so very interesting to bring a human into the mix. And very clever, too. As they have to explain everything to her, who couldn’t know anything at all, the explanations never were over-the-top, and shouldn’t-it-be-obvious-to-the-character. The best (and most disappointing) part of Alisa being human is that nothing can ever change that. Magic cannot be just transferred, and neither can she be transformed. This is what makes this book and her character really interesting. What part can a little human play in the Spellbringer community that makes her worth keeping and educating, and even teaching to fight? What can she do that cannot be solved by magic?

It would be equally interesting to watch a novice Spellbringer develop her powers, learn to control them, and grow into her role. However, Rachel is not that kind of character. She prefers to be undecided about accepting her magical heritage, by either thinking it evil and unchristian, or by using her powers to talk to the dark side, seemingly forgetting the easy way the Alexanders want to teach her, that magic is not evil and can be used for good. She all too easily avoids accepting and understanding the danger her life is in. So, yes, I was disappointed in the novice Spellbringer character. I found her rather annoying, ready for a good slapping.

I felt that the narration was unbalanced at times. There were scenes told in the smallest detail, and then there were summaries over months and events that I would have liked to know more about. I did, for example, never feel completely satisfied with the explanations the Alexanders gave Alisa and Rachel for the world of the Spellbringers. While for Alisa I could accept that basic knowledge needs to be enough, it almost makes me understand why Rachel couldn’t take her destiny seriously. Furthermore, I can just about accept the sudden development of Jace and Rachel’s relationship, due to their magical link which seems to bind them together (and it feels a bit like that and physical attraction might be the only thing), but Alisa and Bryce’s relationship needed more detail. How was she, all of a sudden, head over heels in love with him? What did he say/write that made her understand his character when before he was nothing but cruel?

The showdown of the book was unexpectedly small and uneventful. However, it was probably the reason that made me curious about the series, as it raised so many questions, instead of answering a single one that seemed to lead to this point.

After Reading

Addicted. Where and how soon can I get the next book? – If only to read more and get to understand Alisa and Bryce’s relationship! Because, isn’t this what we all want:

Over the past couple of months, I didn’t need to drift off into a fantasy world in order to keep myself afloat. With Bryce, I was able to live in the moment.

Rating

Idea: 5 Stars
Characters: 4 Stars
Realization: 4 Stars
Writing Style: 5 Stars
General Rating: 4 Stars
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

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