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Spells

Review

Spells

In her first novel, WINGS, Aprilynne Pike introduced readers to Laurel, a teenager whose odd physical symptoms and peculiar desires culminate in the discovery that she is a faerie, an implicit participant in the age-old conflict between the faeries and the trolls, and the heir to important knowledge about plant and herb lore particular to her class of faeries, the Fall faeries.

But just because Laurel now knows she is a faerie, that doesn’t mean she automatically knows how to be a faerie. At the opening of SPELLS, therefore, she arrives at the Academy of Avalon for a crash course in faerie lore. In addition to reading and memorizing countless books of spells, Laurel gains an education in the social strata of Avalon, where Fall faeries like her are served and respected by the Spring faeries, who significantly outnumber them and belong to a much lower class. The strict class hierarchies at the center of Avalon’s life are confusing and, in many ways, off-putting to Laurel, raised as a typical American kid for much of her life.

Nevertheless, Laurel does value her time in Avalon, as she learns about her heritage, reconnects with other faeries, and becomes even closer to Tamani, the faerie who loves her. But Laurel’s heart belongs to her human love, David, even though she finds their relationship complicated when she returns to her human home after her brief time in Avalon and tries to reintegrate into her home, school and social lives, with varying levels of success.

David, who knows about Laurel’s secret faerie identity, soon finds himself intimately acquainted with the faerie realm, when the faeries’ sworn enemies, the trolls, attack unexpectedly and David and Laurel are suddenly at the center of a timeless, ongoing conflict. What’s more, Laurel’s heart is at war, as she finds herself harboring feelings not only for David but also for the very different (but no less alluring) Tamani. Caught between her old life and her new one, Laurel’s affections are far from settled at the end of SPELLS, leaving the door wide open for a classic love triangle for the remainder of this projected four-book series.

Certainly SPELLS owes a great debt to Aprilynne Pike’s fantasy forebears, especially J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. But Pike has created a singular, fully-realized vision of her faerie realm of Avalon, and more importantly, a complex, compelling character in Laurel. Compared with vampires and werewolves, faeries might seem pretty tame; as WINGS and SPELLS show, however, their world is no less mesmerizing, their battles no less fierce, their heroes no less heroic, their loves no less lovely. Like Laurel, readers will travel to Avalon again and again, eager to discover what new magic and mystery await there.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 18, 2011

Spells
by Aprilynne Pike

  • Publication Date: May 4, 2010
  • Genres: Urban Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0061668060
  • ISBN-13: 9780061668067