Tag Archives: witchcraft

Spellbook of the Lost and Found (Moïra Fowley-Doyle)

8 Aug

This book has everything I liked, which is why it jumped to the top of my reading queue.  Definitely pick this title up if you also love any of the following: secrets, magic, spells, friendship, strong women, Ireland, narratives in multiple voices, tree and flower names.


Spellbook of the Lost and Found  Squinklethoughts

1.  The title alone hooked me.  I like books about magic and spells, especially in modern times, so this seemed the perfect choice for me.  One thing I really like about Spellbook is that while magic permeates throughout the entire story, it’s not presented with the type of clichés that persist in other books.  The magic here is treated with respect, even by the characters who don’t believe in it at first, because there is every chance that a life will be changed.  Or lost.  No foolish wand-waving or silly incantations here.  (In fact, the spells are very nicely worded.)

2.  Right off the bat, I was sucked into the stories of SO MANY characters, all of whom narrate a chapter here and there.  In reality, there are only a handful, but it sure felt like there were more.  Once I got the dramatis personae figured out, including which girl-named-after-a-tree is related to or friends with that other girl-named-after-a-tree, the multiple narratives are not a problem at all.  Olive, Rose, Hazel, Ivy, Rowan, Laurel, Ash, and Holly … You really become invested in their stories once you meet them.  I felt like they might have been my own friends.

3.  In fact, I liked the multiple-narrative format that Fowley-Doyle employs here.  It really highlights the fact that the characters are all related but are experiencing the events of the story in his/her own way.  Even if they share scenes or encounter the same strange trinket in the woods, the characters repress different secrets and develop unique perspectives.  I do think there could have been a little more work put into adding more idiosyncrasies in the speech or thought processes of the characters because often, the narrator of one chapter sounds exactly like the narrator of the previous one.  I’m thinking along the lines of one of them always saying something like “Wotcher” (à la Tonks), though I like Rose’s quirk of blowing bubbles to manage her cigarette cravings.

4.  It is a lot of work to weave different characters’ stories together when those characters have little reason to be connected at all, and I really applaud Fowley-Doyle’s plot.  Everything came together very well, and although I got an inkling about the ending about halfway through the plot, I was sufficiently surprised at how she designed it.  Nothing seemed contrived … so much so that I wanted more.


Spellbook of the Lost and Found 2  

5.  About that ending … As great as the entire story was, I felt let down at the end.  Not because it wasn’t a good conclusion, but because the conclusion was so delightfully messy.  I can’t help but think (and hope) that it serves as a bridge to a sequel.  I want more of Rose’s healing, more of Hazel and Rowan’s reconciliation, more of Ivy’s secrets, more of Olive and Emily’s changing sisterliness, and more of Laurel, Ash, and Holly.  More of everything and everyone.  And I definitely want to know more about Mags.  I mean, she could be the star of her own book, and that would be awesome.  Is there even enough for a follow-up book?  I think so.  The ending of this one just leaves you wanting more … and isn’t that the sign of a great story?

6.  Fowley-Doyle writes very lyrical prose.  It was a pleasure to read her turns of phrases, though I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or swig of poteen). There were many times that I had to reread a sentence or phrase because it just seemed so deep that I needed to give it extra attention.  If you’re into that kind of writing, this book will definitely satisfy you.

7.  Parents/teachers, there are a few scenes that might be too delicate for certain readers, and there are sprinkles of profanity throughout the book (though not enough to seem like it was put in for the sake of sounding teenage-y).  On the whole, this story would be just fine for YA readers to devour.  Even better, I’m sure readers of adult lit would enjoy this story, too!

8.  Last thought for you to keep in mind before you begin your journey with Spellbook of the Lost and Found: Be careful what you wish for; not all lost things should be found.


4.5 Squinkles


Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Chapters/Indigo


Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada, for sending me a copy of Spellbook of the Lost and Found in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.


Born Wicked (Jessica Spotswood)

25 Oct

Hey Squinklebooks Squad,


I’ve heard of a saying that there’s a special place in heaven for mothers with three boys in the family. But if you ask my mom, she’d say mothers with three girls deserve a palace gilded in gold among the clouds as well. Because Jessica Spotswood’s Born Wicked is of three sisters, I was immediately drawn to it. Add their magical abilities and a setting where said magical abilities must be repressed on pain of death or being deemed delusional, and you’ve got a great unputdownable story.

 Born Wicked


Spotswood’s novel abounds in conflict. On top of the aforementioned need to hide magical abilities, there’s a distant and often absent father, a busybody neighbour, a meddling governess, a looming intention ceremony, an omnipresent and repressive group, and the kind of class struggles present anywhere and everywhere. There’s also a really interesting love triangle, which made me, at various points in the story, root for one or both of the suitors!


But the strength of Born Wicked lies in the relationships amongst the three motherless girls. Cate, the eldest, shoulders loads of responsibilities, and it is through her eyes that we view Spotswood’s world. Cate is strong, determined, and unfailingly protective of her sisters. You can definitely see how negative an impact their mother’s death had on her. Tess, the youngest, is just beginning to experience and learn about the magical abilities they possess, and hers are so powerful that they are potentially dangerous. She’s also great at observing people’s feelings and reactions, which I envy a lot. Maura is the middle child, and what a typical middle child she is! Smart, witty, stubborn, passionate, … and sometimes unable to control her emotions, Maura is a great foil for Cate. That I am so annoyed with her by the end of the novel is a testament to how well Spotswood writes and develops that character.


4.5 Squinkles


I love, love, love that Spotswood tackles witch hunting and burning that harkens back to the 16th to 18th centuries in Europe and North America. It was great to read about the characters encountering conflicts like taboos, persecution, and mild paranoia about whom to trust. I felt like I was in a perpetual state of anxiety … which may not be great for some readers, but I surely loved it! And there was something delicious about Belastras’ bookshop: I’d probably spend all my time there if it were in my town.


I can’t wait to dive into the second book, Star Cursed, but ay, here’s the rub: the earlier I read Book 2, which I’m sure will end off with an incredible cliffhanger, the more interminable the wait will seem for Book 3, Sisters’ Fate, which releases in summer 2014. Oh well—happy dilemma have I.


Shelf Life - Add


Jessica Spotswood very kindly signed my copies of Born Wicked and Star Cursed when I met her at the Penguin Canada offices this past summer. I’m crossing my fingers I get to meet her again once I manage to get my hands on a copy of Sisters’ Fate!


Cahill Witch Chronicles Trilogy

*Image from Jessica Spotswood’s website.


Jessica Spotswood’s Online Corners

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters


Thank you, Penguin Canada, for sending me a copy of Born Wicked and Star Cursed.  All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own;
I received no compensation for them.
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