REVIEW: Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Emery Blackwood’s life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when a fire ripped through the island’s orchard and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. She’d once dreamt of running away with August, leaving Saoirse Island for good. Now, she is doing what she thought she never would: living a quiet existence among this tight-knit community steeped in folklore and tradition, ruled by the seasons and ancient superstitions. But when August returns after fourteen years to bury his mother’s ashes, Emery must confront her first love and the reason he left so abruptly. But the town wants August gone again. And as the island begins to show signs of strange happenings, the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily’s death once and for all.

Spells for Forgetting is a multiple point of view story. It’s mostly told from Emery and August’s perspectives but there are the odd other characters’ viewpoints sprinkled throughout. It’s also told in the present when August returns to Saoirse and how everything starts snowballing from there, and there’s flashbacks to various points in time before the night of the fire and Lily’s death.

It’s the atmosphere in Spells for Forgetting that I found really compelling. The community on Saoirse is very tightknit and hits all those stereotypical smalltown community tropes with everyone knowing everyone’s business and there being unspoken rules about how to behave. Then there’s the addition magic and it’s the kind of magic where you’re left wondering if it is just superstitions and old wives’ tales or is the island really steeped in magic. It’s the women on the island who potentially have some sort of magical connection to the place and seeing how different women either use or sense that magic is really interesting and adds to each woman’s character.

Out of the two protagonists, I liked Emery a lot more. She’s grown up on this island and has had to look after relatives and take over the family shop so in some ways she’s given up on any dreams she may have had. It’s interesting having Emery (and August) be in their early thirties as while they are obviously adults, many of the adults in their lives who they grew up with still treat them as children and in Emery’s case, in need of protection. As Emery starts looking into Lily’s death more, she finds that just about everyone of note on the island has secrets, including herself.

Emery and August’s relationship is like an undercurrent throughout the novel. Even though it’s been over a decade since they’ve seen one another, it’s clear they both still care for one another but there’s also a lot of hurt between them too. It could be described as a second chance romance as they both have a lot to come clean about even if their chemistry and attraction is still undeniable.

I really enjoyed the mystery in Spells for Forgetting and how it combines true to life smalltown politics and magic. However it is one of those stories when if I think too much about the ending and the reasoning behind the culprits actions I’m left a bit bemused. In some ways it’s unsurprising as greed and jealousy are often the reasons behind people’s illegal/deadly actions but the extent to which some of these characters went to was impressive.

Overall, I found Spells for Forgetting to be a very readable and atmospheric mystery that kept me intrigued throughout and having a flawed but compelling lead in Emery definitely helped. 4/5.


  1. This sounds like an intriguing plot. I’m not a big fan of multiple POVs, but I like how magic is woven into Saoirse’s community and the dynamic that it brings, so I might give this book a try. Great review!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.