Incredible, enjoyable, romantic, whirling, other-worldly:
It's the sequel to Aprilynne Pike's debut novel, WINGS, and it's head and shoulders above most YA fantasy I've read lately. My complaint about WINGS was a slow start (my same complaint about Twilight, incidentally), but the storytelling in SPELLS is so tight and seamless, that any slowness in its prequel was instantly forgiven.
(THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THE BREAKDOWN BELOW- depends on your definition.) :-)
Magic: The magic was ever-present in this installment of the series, which is what I really wanted from the first one. Naturally, I ate it up and am now craving more Avalon!
Choices: A recurring theme, but there was a definite choice made by the end of this one, and I found myself really conflicted over whether or not Laurel made the right one. There's a battle going on inside her, not mainly between two boys she loves, but over which world owns her. She has this idea that she gets to choose to be human or fae, an idea I had trouble understanding after all the talk of duty and the sense of fate (being a Fall faerie). She was placed with humans for a reason, but she puts her emotional attachments way above that purpose, which--I got the sense--is in stark contrast against her previously dutiful personality. After all, she wouldn't have been chosen if she didn't feel that same emotional attachment to Avalon. She just can't remember, which is truly sad for Tam and Avalon.
At the same time, I felt bad for David because he will never understand her completely. He wants her to think about what she wants to be when she grows up, but even Laurel admits she only wants to help people (something she will naturally do as a faerie), and has no real career ambitions. That's something David wouldn't understand, though--the idea that she already made her choice. She chose to save Avalon, and the consequences of that choice aren't going to fade, even if she does "choose" to act human.
Love: This story is full of love. Family love, friend love, and of course romantic love. Aprilynne Pike does LOVE so well! I cried at the end, and felt pretty soft at several points in the story, especially concerning her relationship with her mom. The mother's initial response to learning about her daughter is so real, it grounded the fantastic tale for me, made the whole story seem more real.
Props to Aprilynne Pike for creating such a vivid world, and successfully making it exist parallel with contemporary California. I would recommend SPELLS to anybody craving a bit of magic and romance.
Next up? Still reading SOULLESS by Gail Carriger (my first read on the Nook). It's taking me longer to read than usual because I seldom pick up the device. But I can't wait to finish it. Whatever the format, Carriger's humor and wit is delicious!