Spells For Forgetting by Adrienne Young | #BookReview #Mystery #Fantasy #Magical Realism

“Lush with secrets, magic, and a past that won’t stay where it belongs, this novel is (quite fittingly) spellbinding.”—JODI PICOULT, author of Wish You Were Here

From New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young comes a deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

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. But 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.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young is a spellbinding, previously unsolved mystery with a fantasy/magical realism spin that simply took my breath away.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

In NetGalley, Spells for Forgetting is listed as mystery/thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, and women’s fiction. So I’m not sure what to expect. My previous reads by Adriene Young were fantasy, so I tend to focus on that aspect of the description. The blurb talks about folklore, magic, and strange happenings on a misty remote island. It also talks about a mysterious death and an unwelcome homecoming. From all these parts and pieces, I get the sense that this will be a complex story full of layers that speak to each of the genres listed.

Actual Reading Experience:

This story was nothing like I expected, yet it was everything I expected. I was right about the layers, but I had them configured all wrong in my head. I am unexpectedly happy about that because Adrienne Young’s story is more haunting and intense than I could have ever imagined. When I read that Young lives in the North Carolina mountains, I could see those influences in the story as it reminded me of the mystical folklore tales often told in the literature of the area, and I really enjoyed seeing that.

I loved the atmosphere most of all. It is magical, mystical, and pervasive and sets the story up perfectly. Even though the fantasy thread in the story is essential, it is not as strong as some of the other lines. The atmospheric component makes it more substantial since it runs on that same thread. Shakespeare couldn’t have created a setting that set the mood any better than Young did in this novel, and he was a master of that very thing.

The struggles of returning to a childhood home are even more poignant with the addition of an unsolved mystery brought to the forefront. I loved the mystery and the thrills that went along with solving it. I figured out some aspects of mystery but not all of them, so I delighted in the surprising twists that came out along the way.


Emery Blackwood is the main character of the story. She was born on the island, and though she once dreamed of leaving the island when she turned eighteen, she has remained well into adulthood due to events that no one could have predicted. I found her to be relatable in her loyalty, her choices, and her challenges.

August Salt (Solomon) shares the central character spot with the love he once left behind – Emery. He didn’t want to return to the island to bury his mother’s ashes (at her request). Once there, he wants nothing more than to cut all ties and leave the island as quickly as possible. Except for one thing, seeing Emery again brings back into sharp focus all he lost when he left the first time.

Narration & Pacing:

The narration is in the first person through the eyes of various characters marked at the chapter head. Still, it is told chiefly through Emery and August’s point of view. This is a highly personal story, and the first-person narration reflects that perfectly. It also helps keep the pace from getting too slow, keeping a nice medium pace throughout the story. And, there are little cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, which really worked well in keeping me wanting to read just one more chapter.


Saoirse Island is a highly atmospheric island off the coast of Washington State, holding an orchard that people love to ferry over to pick apples from in season. I can imagine the island clouded with a fog that disperses once you are on land, but that comes in every evening and makes the nights more magical and mystical. The setting is perfect for this story and is used in delightfully surprising ways.

To Read or Not to Read:

If you enjoy a story rooted in mystical folklore that embraces many genres, Spells for Forgetting is the perfect read for you this Fall.

Overall Rating:


  • Originality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Writing Quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Pace: ⭐⭐💫
  • Character Development: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Use of Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

25 Replies to “Spells For Forgetting by Adrienne Young | #BookReview #Mystery #Fantasy #Magical Realism”

  1. This one intrigued me when I first saw it. I love the mystical feel and the folklore element. Based on our review, I think I’d love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you would. It had that same feeling as Cusp of Night to me. The strong characters and the pervasive lore/atmospheric element are just your thing. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s got something for everyone. Incredible story, well developed characters, lots of atmosphere…perfect for fall ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds right up my alley. I can’t wait.
    I can’t read as fast as you and you are making my to read list on my Goodreads explode! Lol Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear that! Before book blogging, my reading was sometimes as fast as it always is now but then other times it was at a much more leisurely pace. This one is perfect for October though!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I keep reading rave reviews about this book. If I were to read this book, then it would be the first one by this author I’ve read. My interest in this book keeps rising, and it moves further up my TBR stack!


    1. I think that would actually be a good thing because this is nothing like her last book which was YA Fantasy. The intended audience for this one is adults and it’s more magical realism/ folklore than full fantasy, plus the unsolved mystery is the focal point of the whole story. Very different from Fable/Namesake which I read. It’s definitely worthy of being on your TBR!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for telling me the difference between the 2 books. Not that there’s anything wrong with YA; but, sometimes the intended reader does need to know the ages of the intended audience so there is a comprehension on what they are reading.

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  4. I’ve seen this around and it looks intriguing, Now I’m adding it to my TBR, fantastic review, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I recently finished this book also and just loved it! Emery & August are great characters and I live in Seattle, so felt a little tug of familiarity even though there is no island like that, of course. All the orchards are in eastern WA where there’s enough sun and heat to ripen the fruit – in the islands it would be too wet. BUT, that little reality aside, it was a terrific story. My review is up as well if you’d like to take a look.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a wonderful story. I wondered about an orchard on the island – maybe it’s possible because of magic 😉


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