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Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott

Dark Spell 
by Gill Arbuthnott
official page | goodreads

Format: Kindle, ARC
Published: Aug. 1st 2013 by Floris Books
Genre: Children's/ Middle-grade lit, Paranormal Fantasy

Amazon | Kindle | Book Depository

"Fifteen-year-year-old Callie Hall has just found out that she is a witch...and things keep going wrong. Sometimes her mind seems to make things happen, things she cannot control. She can set fire to things without a match, and when shes angry people can get hurt. Her friend Josh understands that shes a bit strange, but it is only on a dark and dangerous visit to the tunnels beneath the ruins of St Andrews' castle that he realizes just how strange she really is. Something comes back with Callie--in Callie--something she cannot escape. Can Callie control her power long enough to send back the darkness before it takes over her life? Will Josh ever understand her secret? A brilliant, engrossing young peoples fantasy from the author of Winterbringers and The Keepers Daughter. (Ages 11-13)" -goodreads


“‘You’re a witch, Callie,’” (loc. 131)

This interesting tale is a coming-of-age story of Callie Hall and how her first real witching encounter displays her unique powerful skills. With her family threatened, and her best friend, Josh, in the mix, how can Callie ready herself for the dark force of nightmares?

“They were right. She was a freak. And there was no one she could tell.” (loc. 51)

I liked the premise of this book, and I found the plot build-up interesting. I really feel that, although the age of the characters are 15, that this book fits really well with the Children’s and Middle Grade genre it’s in. It’s a nice little paranormal fantasy, and I was beyond pleased that romance did not play a factor in Dark Spell, but the situation, wording, dialogues and actions felt a bit stiff. Callie’s constant insecurities and self-esteem issues struck a bad chord with me, but other than that the characters are pleasant. I must say that I did not like how Callie’s familial relations are not displayed as simple pronouns like “mom,” “dad,” or her “grandparents” because using the adults first name’s got really confusing and I had to constantly remind myself of how they are related to one another, and Callie. Even if I saw the names separately right at this very moment, I still wouldn’t be sure on who is who. I love how the story is told in third person, so as the reader can get a better experience in the adventure’s outlook, but I think that better transitions could have been used between character point of views to avoid confusion. Better transitioning probably would have been better at the beginning when the time spans kept spreading in a matter of paragraphs.

“There was something special about Callie – nothing to do with her being a witch – that meant he didn’t want to let her down. He cared about her; he didn’t want her facing this alone.” (loc. 1607)

In all, I believe that this is a delightful tale for those of the younger generation. I could easily have seen myself reading a tale like this in elementary or middle school. I love the plot and the frightening supernatural twist it takes and how much more interesting and different it makes the story. The ghost of a witch? Great stuff! I would recommend this book for the younger crowd who love to dabble in paranormal fantasies and witchcraft, and who are as tired of reading about romance in everything, as I am.

First Line: “I am living in a nightmare.” (loc. 9)
Last Line: “Callie smiled as she watched him walk away.” (loc. 1948)

Galley provided by NetGalley via Floris Books

*Quotes are from uncorrected advanced galleys and may change before going to press. Please refer to the final printed book for official quotes.

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