January 27, 2023

REVIEW Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young 
Rating: 3 Stars
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Format; eBook (Personal Library) + Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Having initially been introduced to Adrienne Young’s work through her Fable series, I was excited to learn that she would be releasing her standalone adult debut, Spells for Forgetting in 2022. The two literary universes are vastly different, with Fable being more of an action and adventure fantasy and Spells for Forgetting sitting firmly in the contemporary magical realism genre (akin to Practical Magic). However, despite the differences, I think Emery and August’s love story will capture just as many hearts as Fable and West’s did. 

The story takes place on Saoirse Island, which is just as much a part of the story as any of the physical characters. Years ago, there was a fire in the orchard and a death that rocked everybody on the island. They thought the event had been put behind them long ago, but when August Salt returns to the island for the first time in over a decade, long-buried secrets come to light (and no one has their hands clean). 

In terms of vibe, the book is a cross between Knives Out and Practical Magic. Lily Morgan’s death sits at the heart of the story, and while August has long been the main suspect readers quickly come to learn there's more to the story. While it did make things confusing at times, I enjoyed getting more perspectives than just Emery and August’s as it helped fully flesh out the case. It was fun to get to play the role of detective and put all the puzzle pieces together. 

While I was reading, I admittedly struggled with the non-linear storyline (it can be very hit or miss for me in books). I want to note that I appreciated how each chapter gave readers a note on where it takes place chronologically compared to the rest of the story. Thankfully, I pushed through my struggles and was rewarded at the end of the book with the secrets of the island and Lily’s death being unraveled. 

Audiobook lovers are in for a treat with this book. Spells for Forgetting is a full-cast audiobook production, and narrators Emily Rankin, Dan Bittner, Mark Deakins, Kimberly Farr, Ari Fliakos, Dawn Harvey, Carrington MacDuffle, Kirsten Potter, and Oliver Wyman did an excellent job with bringing the story to life.  

Readers who enjoy multiple points of view, small-town murder mysteries, and second-chance romances with a hint of magic involved will enjoy Adrienne Young’s debut adult novel. If you are like me and struggle with non-linear storytelling (especially for a mystery), I highly recommend reading a print version of the book as you listen to the audiobook. It makes it easier to follow along with what’s going on.

About the Book

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.

About the Author

Adrienne Young is the New York Times, USA Today, and Indie list bestselling author of the Sky in the Deep duology, the Fable series, and the forthcoming Spells for Forgetting. Her books have been published in over twenty-five countries around the world and Fable had the honor of being selected as a Reese’s Bookclub YA Pick. 

Young is also the creator of the continuously sold out Writing With the Soul Workshop and numerous initiatives to support women and youth storytellers, including the Fable Grant. Her first nonfiction project is the soon to be released The Storytellers Workbook, in collaboration with artist and author Isabel Ibañez. 

When she’s not writing, you can find Adrienne on her yoga mat, on a walk in the woods, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

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