Review: Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott


Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott

Age Range: 10 and up
Series: Kelpies

Paperback: 216 pages

Publisher: Floris Books (Aug 1, 2013)

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (thank you!)

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

About the Book:

15-year-old Callie Hall has just found out she’s a witch, and things
keep going wrong. Sometimes her mind seems to make things happen, things
she can’t control. She can set fire to things without a match, and when
she’s angry people can get hurt. Her friend Josh understands she’s a
bit weird, but its only on a dark and dangerous visit to the tunnels
under the ruins of St Andrews’ castle that he realises just how strange
she really is. Something comes back with Callie — in Callie, something
she can’t escape. Can Callie control her power long enough to send back
the darkness, before it takes over her life? And will Josh ever
understand her secret? A brilliant, engrossing teen fantasy from the
author of Winterbringers and The Keeper’s Daughter.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Gill Arbuthnott was born and brought up in Edinburgh, but escaped
briefly to study in St Andrews and Southampton. She couldn’t stay away,
however, and now lives in Edinburgh with her family and Leonard the cat.
When she’s not writing, she works as a biology teacher. She has written
several novels for younger children: The Chaos Clock, The Chaos Quest
and Winterbringers (all Floris Books), as well as books with Barrington
Stoke and The Keeper’s Daughter, published by Chicken House.

My Thoughts:

This book is categorized as young adult, but it is better suited for
middle grade and lower YA readers. It has nice pacing and a lot of
exciting magic happening. It involves ghosts and ancient legends, but it
is not overly frightening. The content is clean and free of innuendo,
language, and violence. There is some action and suspense, but it’s
appropriate for children ages 10 and up.

Callie is a sweet yet headstrong character that is trying to figure out
who she is and why she doesn’t fit in with other kids her age. Her long
distance friend, Josh, comes to visit for a couple of weeks during the
summer and quickly gets wrapped up in Callie’s witchy problems. I really
like their friendship and I am glad it didn’t turn romantic. It is
refreshing to read about a boy and a girl that are good friends without
any sort of tension.

I have a few complaints with the book. The first is that some of the
situations and the characters’ reactions didn’t feel realistic. The
second is that much of the story was very formulaic and predictable.
Lastly, I didn’t see the point of including the characters of Evie and
her posse at the beginning. They were irrelevant to the plot and felt
out of place once I got further into the book.

On a different but not unrelated note, I absolutely love this cover!  It’s gorgeous.  I love the colors and the texture.  The cover is what made me pick up the book. Love it.


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  • Reply
    Adriana Garcia
    September 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I would think if I discovered I was a witch it would be the greatest day of my life but I never think about not being able to control my powers (too much HP growing up). I really like that the original friendship stayed that way. It's very rare that happens nowadays.

    Maybe it's supposed to be unrealistic? It's about a witch after all. Maybe.

    Love the cover as well!

    • Reply
      September 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      It wasn't unrealistic because it was fantasy. I just meant that the way characters reacted to certain things, conversations that happened, things that parents agreed to, and other things like that just weren't believable. I enjoyed the "witchy" aspects of the book.

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