About the Book:
Title: Spells for Forgetting
Author: Adrienne Young
Page Length: 352
Publication Date: Sept. 27, 2022
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: A rural island community steeped in the mystical superstitions of its founders and haunted by an unsolved murder is upended by the return of the suspected killer in this deeply atmospheric novel.
Emery Blackwood’s life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Now, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence among the community that fractured her world in two. She’d once longed to run away with August, eager to escape the misty, remote shores of Saiorse Island and chase new dreams; now, she maintains her late mother’s tea shop and cares for her ailing father. But just as the island, rooted in folklore and tradition, begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that no one wants to remember.
August Salt knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night that changed everything. 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 the 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 that span generations threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily’s death once and for all.
Evocative and compelling, Spells for Forgetting is a vivid exploration of lost love and the unraveling of a small town and its many secrets.
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THERE WERE TALES THAT only the island knew. Ones that had never been told. I knew, because I was one of them.
Spells for Forgetting is an incredible story of secrets, lies, betrayal, magic, and undying love. Dark, rich, and deeply atmospheric, the story pulls you in from the first ominous lines.
Young is a master at crafting immersive stories. I love the autumn vibes, as the island prepares for a tourist-free winter. The sense of impending isolation, the ending of the harvest season, and all the business that comes with it enhance the eerie feel. The imagery and symbolism add to the dark tone of the story, and the skillful use of personification and other figurative language brings the island to life. Saoirse island becomes a character itself, a living, breathing thing, much like Manderley does in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. It’s an island filled with secrets and lies, and it feels like everyone has something to hide.
The mystery of Lily Morgan’s death is at the forefront of the story, as August Salt returns to the island fourteen years after being accused of murdering Lily. Told in the present with flashbacks to the past, a variety of points of view (though mostly Emery and August’s) offer a glimpse into what happened all those years ago. The characters are as vivid as the island, and their connection to the island, each other, and the secrets of the past are complicated, messy, and fueled by lies. It’s so fascinating to see how the past continues to haunt them and how it defined their future.
Emery and August were each other’s first love, and it was deep, lasting, and true. I felt so much sympathy for them as they faced the pain they still felt over losing each other. At one point in the story, Emery says “I’d been in love with August Salt before I knew what the words meant.” Their story is heartbreaking, especially as you learn of their ill-fated romance, how much they cared for each other, and how deeply wounded both were. Neither has really moved on, and throughout the story you see both struggling with their feelings. I live for love stories, and Emery and August have my heart. Like the other relationships (romantic, family, and friendships) theirs is complicated.
This is the kind of story that keeps you guessing with some surprising twists. I buddy read this with Leslie from Books Are the New Black, and from the start, we were sharing predictions about what happened. It’s intriguing and suspenseful and layered, and even though we correctly guessed some things, it was still captivating. The ending wasn’t my favorite, but it made sense when compared with how the islanders handled previous criminal acts. And the creepy way Saoirse island proves it will always have a hold on its inhabitants is absolute perfection.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing me with an advanced copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The writing style.
- The love story between Emery and August.
- The mystery.
To me, the island had always been a stone tied around my ankles, and everything that could have been was no more than the puddle of light on the surface as I sank.
It didn’t matter how far I went, the orchard and its scars had followed me.
“There are spells for breaking and spells for mending. But there are no spells for forgetting,”
I’d known nothing about suffering or responsibility or loss, but somehow I’d known this soul-deep kind of love that I now wondered if most people never found.
I would definitely recommend Spells for Forgetting to readers who enjoy dark and atmospheric mysteries.