Review of Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

A perfect atmospheric, mysterious novel for your Halloween reading!

Blurb: Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings. But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. 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 his 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 spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

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Having never read Adrienne Young before, I began Spells for Forgetting not knowing what to expect, but, I hate to admit it, expected to be disappointed. Isn’t that horrible? However, imagine my glee at a novel that is richly atmospheric with a setting of an island, Saoirse, off the coast of Washington State that is as equally alive and emotional as its occupants.

After the death of his mother, August Salt is returning to the island where he grew up, where the inhabitants think of him as the man who murdered Lily Morgan on the same night that the apple orchard that is the life blood of the island almost burned down. There’s never been any proof that he murdered Lily, but here suspicion seems equal to guilt. When he fled the island with his mother, August left behind Emery Blackwood, the love of his life. During the subsequent years, she’s had to endure whispers that suggest she knows more than she lets on, that she protected a murderer.

Upon August’s return, Saoirse’s own magic comes alive. Overnight the leaves change color and the starlings stay longer than normal. Reckoning is here.

Spells for Forgetting is everything I want in a novel about “the old ways” and witchcraft. Adrienne Young has created a perfect setting, woods and ocean, nature that is alive but in a more spiritual way than one might expect. And the characters, though some stock, are layered and interesting, sometimes surprising.

Plotting and characterization are pretty much impeccable. If you’ve read enough novels of this type, you will probably figure out Lily’s death, but this is where the “getting there” is so satisfying. Mystery and suspense fill almost every page. Every sense of normalcy that exists almost exclusively in August’s life in Oregon after he’s left is subjugated by the mystery and tension of Saoirse that never leaves. And, even when events seem to lend themselves to an almost-happily-ever-after, a wrench is delightfully thrown in the works.

A definite must-read for anyone who loves witchy stories and towns that seem almost lost in time practicing the old ways. A perfect Halloween read and also for any time you need a little gothic read.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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