Publisher: Del Rey
Author: Lucy A. Snyder
Release Date: 12/29/2009
Recommended Audience: Adult
I love the new-age sci-fi/fantasy genre that mixes real life with magic, and Spellbent is a grand example of this. You follow the story of Jessie Shimmers who wants to just live everyday life with her boyfriend Cooper, and their familiars Palimpsest and Smoky. Cooper teaches Jessie how to harness her magical powers, but one day while creating a storm for some farmers Cooper gets sucked into hell, and a monstrous Wutganger attacks. Jessie does everything in her power to stop it, but can she do it? She is then being chased by a crazy team of wizards trying to kill her. You follow her through a week of trying to find a way to that hell and rescue Cooper, and what she goes through is horrifying.
Lucy Snyder does a great job of keeping the book feel real but adding just enough magic to not make it seem like Harry Potter. Instead of wands and potions, wizards and witches in Spellbent must speak ancient words and imagine what they want to do. Usually, it’s just one word, but this makes the book feel more down-to-Earth and real and not too fantastic. Talented people find animals called familiars that are spirits from another dimension sent here to help Talented folk. They can communicate telepathically and Pal is Jessie’s familiar. The whole mythology isn’t too deep, it doesn’t go into any history or anything, but it’s enough to feel fresh and new and keep you hooked. The book is very mature with sex, foul language, gore, and seriously gross stuff. Lucy does a great job making you really feel for all the characters, especially Jessie and Pal.
The book’s main issue is that it has bad pacing. It starts out slow, then gets intense, then slow again and 2/3 of the book is Jessie running around in the real world trying to figure out what to do with bits of suspense. It’s not until the end that she’s in another world and you really get the dark feeling of the book. The book is raw, edgy, and very mature, and this no-hold-barred book is great for people who are into that thing. If you are looking for another Harry Potter, however, you should turn around right now. Lucy is a clever writer that can make you feel hooked on something that you know little about and that requires real talent. While the book may get straight to the point it becomes a good thing so you aren’t falling asleep learning back history on everything like some longer sci-fi/fantasy novels. If you really want a new fantasy book to read pick up Spellbent, and you are going to be happy.