A Moody, Mysterious Modern Gothic of a Story!
Spells for Forgetting Book Cover Spells for Forgetting
Adrienne Young
Mystery & Suspense, Coming of Age Fiction, Magical Realism
Delacorte Press
September 27, 2022
ebook, hardcover, audiobook

“Lush with secrets, magic, and a past that won’t stay where it belongs, this novel is (quite fittingly) spellbinding.”—JODI PICOULT, author of Wish You Were Here From New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young comes a deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love. 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.

“I’d lived enough years to know that there were some ghosts that haunted you forever.”

Adrienne Young has a very distinct way of telling her stories. Spells for Forgetting is Adrienne Young’s first release aimed towards adult readers and is an ode to the Pacific Northwest.

Everything about this new release—from the title, the gorgeous cover illustrations and graphics, and even the blurb—absolutely passes the vibe check for a moody read, set in the even moodier PNW, and features magic that is as old as the island of Saoirse itself.

Though primarily told in the present day and through multiple POVs, there are chapters that are snapshots into the past that lead up to the event, 14 years ago, that rocked Saoirse’s very foundation: the night of the nearly devastating orchard fire. Which also happens to be the night of Lily Morgan’s death.

“Sometimes the signs were subtle, like a fleeting shadow or an echo in the trees. Other times, the island wasn’t gentle with her words. This wasn’t like the gentle shift of wind before a storm. Something dead had woken.”

While I personally believe that Spells for Forgetting reads more like a murder mystery with magical elements, there is also a romantic subplot as well. Emery and August as teenagers were always together and their friendship duo was made into a quad with the addition of Lily and Dutch. While Lily and Emery weren’t siblings, their friendship made them as close as sisters. Both of their grandmother’s also passed down age old family magic to them. I desperately wanted more magic injected into Spells For Forgetting, but each morsel that Adrienne Young shared with readers boosted the feel of otherness that became more apparent in later chapters.

With August’s return to Saoirse Island —14 years after he and his mother fled in the night— omens begin to appear and the quiet community of townspeople began to feel like the events of the past would now finally be put to rest as well—whether they wanted it or not. Those events also thrust Emery and August back together and force them to confront everything that was left undone and unspoken over the years.

There is entirely too much beautiful intricacy in Spells for Forgetting for me to go into any more detail. I will say that while the beginning of the book felt very heavy and slow, it was pertinent for understanding the events that unfold later. Emery, August, and Dutch are all tied together with other older citizens of the island and in a way, it felt more like a clashing of younger and older generations—intentional or not. These three characters also felt like they hadn’t aged in the 14 years since their graduation night. I’m unsure if they were supposed to feel so immature for being in their early 30’s as each of them easily acted like they were all still fresh out of high school.

“It’s normal, you know. To replay it in your mind. To pick apart the moments and try to make sense of them.”

I raced to the finish with Spells for Forgetting and felt satisfied with the conclusion even though I had so many questions and thoughts after reading. Ultimately, I believe it was myself being overly critical. The main takeaways are this: I did enjoy the plot as well as the setting, and overall, I would recommend this book to other readers. Saoirse Island reminds me of the island setting of Practical Magic. Though, I wish there was more magic, I think that was just my expectations getting in the way of my enjoyment. There is enough ancient magic, moodiness, and mystery that I liken Spells for Forgetting to a modern gothic.  Look for the release coming soon!