I bit my lip. “You could see me?”
Sun nodded. They reached out for me, took my hand in theirs, laced our fingers. “Since the beginning.”
LENGTH: 336 pages
GENRES: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Romance, YA, Fiction
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books
RELEASE DATE: 4 April 2023
Two rival apprentice sorcerers must team up to save their teachers and protect their own magic in this lively young adult romantic adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of In Deeper Waters and So This Is Ever After.
Edison Rooker isn’t sure what to expect when he enters the office of Antonia Hex, the powerful sorceress who runs a call center for magical emergencies. He doesn’t have much experience with hexes or curses. Heck, he doesn’t even have magic. But he does have a plan—to regain the access to the magical world he lost when his grandmother passed.
Antonia is… intimidating, but she gives him a job and a new name — Rook — both of which he’s happy to accept. Now all Rook has to do is keep his Spell Binder, an illegal magical detection device, hidden from the Magical Consortium. And contend with Sun, the grumpy and annoyingly cute apprentice to Antonia’s rival colleague, Fable. But dealing with competition isn’t so bad; as Sun seems to pop up more and more, Rook minds less and less.
But when the Consortium gets wind of Rook’s Spell Binder, they come for Antonia. All alone, Rook runs to the only other magical person he knows: Sun. Except Fable has also been attacked, and now Rook and Sun have no choice but to work together to get their mentors back… or face losing their magic forever.
This book was pretty good. It wasn’t as good as I’d hoped – or even had been hyped up – but it was a mostly enjoyable read. Though I must admit that I preferred Lukens other novel that I read, In Deeper Waters.
The characters were the highlight of the book, and it would’ve been a problem if they weren’t, as this is a very character-focused story. Rook is a wonderful MC – smart, sassy, and horribly kind. Best friend material right here, folks! And did I mention that he’s also a genius who finished high school early? Lucky!
Sun is the more relatable of the two protagonists, fore at least. Quiet, socially awkward, prickly, and averse to physical contact. Honey, believe me when I say I get you. They’ve also got a super sweet and gooey interior that they’re afraid to show, and they’re just as kind and as passionate about magic as Rook is.
“I don’t know how your mentors stood it,” Mavis said, leaving in the doorway.
“Stood what?” I asked.
“The crackling tension between you two. I’ve known you two days and I don’t know how you two exist in the same space without kissing. It’s like watching a rom-com.”
Rook and Sun’s relationship was also a very sweet, slow-burn. I don’t much care for the puzzle piece analogy to romance, but these two really did fit together perfectly.
Antonia and Fable also had an… interesting friendship. I do kinda wish the book touched on their relationship more, but I understand that this was primarily Rook and Sun’s story.
Moving on from the (admittedly very well written) romantic relationships, I really liked Rook and Antonia’s familial bonding. Rook is lost and hurting from the death of his grandmother, and Antonia is still mourning her last apprentice, though it has been many years since. These two were exactly what each other needed, and I love how Antonia is basically like Rook’s eccentric and sassy older sister.
“You,” I said.
Sun looked at me and grinned. “Me,” they replied.
Sooo… Even though I really liked this book as a whole, there was some stuff about Spell Bound that I didn’t care for. Look no further than this above quote for an example. This specific interaction happens between the two main characters around six times throughout the novel. I realize the author thought that it was cute and clever, but I mostly found it annoying. I honestly don’t know why.
It also irked me that the plot didn’t really feel like it started until about 50% of the way through. Like, stuff happened before that, but it also felt for the sake of establishing characters and character interaction. And half the book to get to the main conflict is way too long.
But once that got going, the book was fine, for the most part. I didn’t find the ending to be a very realistic resolution – it reminded me of The House in the Cerulean Sea’s ending and that of When Life Gives You Vampires, neither of which I cared for all that much. But it was optimistic, which is something that I can always appreciate.
And the plot had some really great points, too! Like animal transformations, specifically that of the cat variety. Now, any book with a cat in it immediately gets at least an extra quarter star, but this one has one of our precious MCs turn into one. And it’s the best third of the book, honestly. The (platonic) bonding was amazing.
I knew where I belonged.
So yeah, Spell Bound was a pretty fun adventure about found family, love, and magic, in unexpected places. (Wait. I’ve seen that before somewhere!)
It’s a fun YA romp, and I highly recommend it to those who love fantasy, and in particular, LGBTQIA fantasy. F.T. Lukens really does write these genres well.
Thanks so much for reading, and have an awesome day/night!
See ya ~Mar