Spellcast by Barbara Ashford
MY RATING: 5 of 5 Stars
I finished this lovely book at 12:45am last night, and I am embarrassed to tell you how emotional I was by the end of the story. It actually kept me awake a long time, as I pondered what might lie ahead for these very engaging and, in the case of Rowan MacKenzie, charismatic, characters. Yes. I admit it. I fretted. Over fictional beings. But isn’t the whole purpose of writing to make the reader care? I think it is. And I think Barbara Ashford did just that, so the book rates very high with me. I don’t give out 5 stars very often. The plot line & characters have to be quite strong, and even more importantly, the writing must be very, very good, if not downright lyrical.
I will confess that I wasn’t sure when I first started reading. I like musical theater probably more than most, but since I’ve never acted, I’m not particularly drawn to the behind the scenes things like stage direction, set building, and so forth. It was interesting, but for awhile, I was wanting to get away from it and move on with the main focus, namely Maggie & Rowan. However, Ashford was not to be rushed. And it turns out she was right to build her foundation slowly and surely. Gradually, as the theater’s productions became a metaphor for what was really going on in this tale, I began to enjoy even that part more and more. And when the action finally began to pick up, I was very glad I hadn’t let anything, even the plethora of characters whose names I was barely keeping straight, stop me from continuing.
I will confess, I love reading about a tortured, tormented, and angst-ridden man, and I don’t think they come any more so than the enigmatic Rowan. Who and what he is puzzled Maggie to the point of near obsession, and I felt the same way. I’ve read plenty of urban fantasy, so I had drawn my conclusions as to what he was early on, but I wanted confirmation. And I wanted to know the whole back story. It unfolds bit by bit, sometimes excruciatingly slowly, but unfold it does. And it brings with it some of the most emotional and drama-packed love scenes I’ve ever read. I was elated one moment, heartbroken the next, and desperate for resolution the entire time. All I can say is, I was crying through the last 30 or so pages of the book, and as I said above, sleep didn’t come easy last night.
If I had one negative thing to add, it might be that Maggie’s “daddy issues” were a bit overdone for my taste. But they certainly factor into describing who she was and what kind of baggage she was carrying on her shoulders, so I don’t know whether it would have helped to tone that down a bit or not. It certainly wasn’t a big enough problem to spoil my enjoyment of the book in any way.
If you like your love stories a bit less sugar-coated than some, and with plenty of interesting side stories to round out the cast, “Spellcast” is probably just what the doctor ordered. I found I couldn’t even wait to get to the store today to pick up a copy of the sequel, “Spellcrossed,” so I downloaded it onto my Kindle and started reading right away. I even put my long-awaited copy of “Odd Apocalypse,” received yesterday, on hold until I finish this second book, and for me, that’s something. I had been counting the days to get that one and catch up on what’s happening with Oddie. That’s how wrapped up in this story I am, and how eager I am to read more.
One more note. After having read several very poorly written books in a row, it was such a treat to open the covers of “Spellcast” and find solid story telling and good writing, with no noticeable errors in grammar or spelling. What a relief. But that’s a post for another day. Suffice it to say, this book was good on every level, and I hope to enjoy many more stories from Barbara Ashford.
So what do YOU think?
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