Book Review: SPELLS FOR FORGETTING by Adrienne Young

I received a review copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in gold on dark teal
Genre: Contemporary 
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for SPELLS FOR FORGETTING: title in white on dark teal forest with gold starbursts coming out of letters

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.

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.

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


SPELLS FOR FORGETTING is a beautifully written book about secrets and lies and examination of old ties still tangling hearts and minds and relationships. It’s also about what people a small town will do to protect what they considers their/the town’s own.

The information control as the mystery of just what happened the night of the fire unfolds, and what is happening now on the island. Things are spooled out at just the right pace to make sure you’re still engaged but slow enough to let the character relationships (the heart of the book) shine through.

I’ve seen SPELLS FOR FORGETTING shelved in a variety of genres, including fantasy, but it felt more like a contemporary with a hint of the other worldly to me. It’s a story that explored the fall out of a horrific night that scarred the people and town, and how a small town reacts with it has decided the villain. There are dark secrets being held that will shake up worlds.

While there is a hint of magic in this book, but all but one instance could be passed off as not-real, just traditions and superstitions. To me, that makes this much more contemporary (maybe literary based on structure) with a slight speculative bent. I loved it, but it wasn’t what I expected as I’d heard it talked about most in a fantasy context (probably because of the author’s previous work in YA.)

The book is non-linear. While, most of the time, it’s following chronologically the “present” timeline as Emery and August contend with what happened fourteen years ago (and what it means for them now), there are a scenes here, there, and everywhere looking at the past. They are not in order of time, bouncing about, in order to give you an understanding of the relationships between Emery, August, and the other two people in their childhood group. What drew them to each other, how they all were so close knit, the tensions and jealousies. It means that the night of the fire is all the more heart breaking, and the fall out, once you know what they are like, really see it.

Most of the book is narrated by Emery and August, but there are some “present time” chapters from different people in the town, showing what’s happening and peeling back secrets. There are people scheming, and this is your way of seeing the layers of the scheme and having a deeper understanding of what’s happening.

In all, it was a great read, and I look forward to what Adrienne Young writes next.

Read my reviews of other books by Adrienne Young:

Young Adult:

Sky in the Deep:


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