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Spellbound by Debbie Viguié and Nancy Holder

Spellbound by Debbie Viguié and Nancy Holder
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Book Name: Spellbound
Author: Debbie Viguié and Nancy Holder
Publisher(s): Simon Pulse
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook
Genre(s): YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 1, 2003 (US) August 1, 2003 (UK)

Somehow, I forgot that it got weirder, but I really should have expected that.

To recap: I have been going on a reread of the Wicked series by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié. I first read the books when I was a young teen and for various reasons (too many other books, not enough time, etc.) I wound up only reading them once or twice before sticking them with my other books and all but forgetting they existed. I enjoyed them as a teen, which is probably why I didn’t just give them away in the Great Book Purge before college, but I haven’t actually reopened them until now. Spellbound is the last book of the series that I read, but I have few memories of it beyond an exorcism and a mysterious man showing up practically out of nowhere. So for all intents and purposes, I encountered this book for the first time.

And frankly, my tastes have changed. Maybe it’s just because ten years have passed, or maybe it’s because in those ten years I’ve expanded my tastes beyond witchcraft and fantasy. I enjoy fantasy of all stripes now, particularly magical realism, and I’ve even found some literary fiction that I like, though ten years ago I would have found those books uniformly boring and pointless. (Quite frankly, some of them still are. Many could be improved with the addition of a few dragons.)

If you don’t want to read any further than this, here’s the short version of my opinion: I didn’t enjoy the book. I didn’t have as many troubles with the pacing as I did with Legacy, and there were even some blessed moments where I could catch my breath a little and not be pulled through thirteen chapters of constant drama. My quibbles this time came from the plot itself.

Spellbound opens immediately where Legacy left off, with the coven fleeing Michael’s attack on their cabin stronghold. They have scattered into several groups, thinking that it will be easier for at least a few of them to escape if they flee separately than if they all stick together. It’s a good plan, and probably one of the most sensible things the characters have done. Amanda, Tommy, and Pablo wind up together, and they crash in a hotel room to get some much-needed sleep and regroup.

The situation is pretty grim. Nicole has been recaptured by Eli and James, who forced her into marriage and now intend to either put her in thrall to James or sacrifice her. Holly is still possessed by several demons and has been captured by Michael Deveraux, who decides to keep her alive, even though the more sensible thing would be to kill her right then and there. She is his nemesis, after all.

From there, things get… weird.

It doesn’t start out weird, but if you do want to read this book, I only think it’s fair to warn you that the plot is even more of a wild ride than the other books were. Holly has lost her mind and is hunting down her friends under the influence of Michael Deveraux. Nicole must find a way to escape Eli and James again. On top of that, a member of the Mother Coven has come across a lost Cahors cousin, Alex Carruthers, who may be more (or simply other) than what he seems.

Typing it all out, it looks like a fascinating end to a series, and I’ve found myself softening to the book, and even to the series as a whole. The trouble is I want these books to work, and not just from nostalgia. That’s certainly part of it, but the greater part is that there are moments where they come very close to being genuinely good.

I mentioned in my review for Legacy that the cliffhanger is exactly what I wanted, and I still think I could go back and enjoy Witch, the first book in the series. It’s just that as it went on, it began to suffer from what I think of as the Lost problem. In this case, the authors did know where they wanted to go with the book, but it feels like too much has been added in for excitement or to create unnecessary plot twists. The whole thing could have been condensed into one book, especially as Holly only finds out about witchcraft about halfway through Witch. As it is, having the plot stretched out into four books feels ponderous and — at times — pointless.

There was another cliffhanger/plot twist at the end of Spellbound, and you know what? I’ll be back for the last book. I may not be haunted to the end of my days if I don’t finish this series, but I still have to find out what happens next. I have to find out how or if everything can be tied together.

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