Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Published: June 1st 2017 by Corgi Childrens
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Trigger warnings: Sexual assault, racism
Book Depository (affiliate link)
One stormy Irish summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hairclips and jewelry, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something much bigger, something she won’t talk about, and Olive thinks her best friend is slipping away.
Then seductive diary pages written by a girl named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing estate. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tight to painful secrets.
When they discover the spellbook, it changes everything. Damp, tattered and ancient, it’s full of hand-inked charms to conjure back things that have been lost. And it just might be their chance to find what they each need to set everything back to rights.
Unless it’s leading them toward things that were never meant to be found…
I went to the launch of this book on June 1st with Gabbie, where we stood awkwardly and sipped white wine and got our books signed by Moïra, who was one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. She did a reading from the book, which had the audience laughing and wanting more, and then I headed home to start reading, clutching my book cover cookie and bubble blower, inspired by one of the characters.
I knew I would love this book, since I love anything witchy, mystical, spooky, or involving dad jokes, but I didn’t anticipate the way in which I would love this. It was different from what I was expecting but it was still full of spookiness and surprises. It took me a few chapters to get my bearings and to get used to each point of view, as there are a lot of characters, but I got into it quite quickly and each voice is very distinct. I loved every character and every new event and revelation had me gasping and hurriedly turning the page to find out more.
The storyline is so original and interesting and it kept me turning the page, because I could never guess what was going to happen next. It’s definitely driven by plot, but it’s also character-driven, so it’s the best of both worlds.
This book features several LGBTQ+ characters and a WoC (I believe she is Native American, but I’m not sure if it’s explicitly stated in the text). There is a trigger warning here for a racial slur [which I’ve hidden; highlight to see it]: “Pocahontas.” This racism is addressed in the text. I was impressed with the level of diversity and self-awareness; the main character has a younger sister who frequently calls out sexism and talks about feminism. The gay and bisexual characters never feel forced or token; they have realistic relationships and I loved them. There’s also an instance of sexual assault (there is no detailed depiction but there are text messages with derogatory terms and insults) and it’s dealt with well.
I loved the setting of this book – the middle of nowhere, Ireland. It’s definitely a setting I can relate to, so it felt more real to me than books set in the US. It feels like it’s written from experience, the way rural teenagers act and what small community life is like.
The only thing I didn’t 100% like about this book (though it didn’t bother me much) was that there’s only one spell. It’s early on in the book, and after reading it (and getting chills; it’s a very creepy spell) I went flicking through the book to see if there were more. Because the title is “spellbook” I thought there would be more than one spell and I was excited to read them, but the story doesn’t really need them once it gets going anyway.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Recommended for: Fans of anything witchy or spooky! It’s a fast, fun read, and it’s perfect for any time of year, particularly summer and Halloween.
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