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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Genre: Fantasy

Publish Date Sept 27, 2022; 352 pages

Thanks to #NetGalley and #RandomHouseBallantine for the advance copy of #SpellsforForgetting for review. The opinions are my own.

First Sentence: "There were tales that only the island knew. Ones that had never been told. I knew because I was one of them."

Main Characters: Emery and August, Dutch and Lily; parents and grandparents


This is a magical love story. On a magical, ominous island. The love story is between Emery and August, together since they were children and inexorably connected through their whole lives. The island of Saroise is a small island in the Puget Sound, near Seattle, WA whose claim to fame is a fabulous apple orchard. The island's residents are bound to the island, the orchard, and the secrets that swirl through the community.

“There are spells for breaking and spells for mending. But there are no spells for forgetting.”

For me this is the best kind of love story because it's about a couple fated to be together from the time they were kids and who feel incomplete when apart. The way Young describes their relationship makes it clear they both are wildly in love from a very young age - even adults on the island recognize it. Yet the unsolved tragedy of the death of Emery's best friend Lily on graduation day haunts them and the whole community. Eventually events separate them but 14 years later, they are back in each other's orbit as August has to return to the island to bury his mother. Can they overcome the hurt, the disappointment, the lies?

The format of the story is in alternating 1st person chapters as we learn the back story and current events from various perspectives. There are occasional flashbacks to before the tragedy, walking us through the events leading up to the big night of a fire and a teenager's death. If you don't pay close attention to the chapter subtitles indicating the past timeframe, the chapter might be a little confusing. But, mostly I really liked the rotating first person voices.


The underlying mystery surrounds what happened to Lily - did someone murder her? The prime suspect is August, but when he returns to the island, secrets begin to surface. Emery starts asking hard questions and suspicions bloom about many of the residents. What really happened the night of Lily's death?

I love this kind of mystery that is hidden behind a zillion lies and trying to figure out who has the most to lose or is telling the biggest lie is the fun part. As each layer is peeled back, as each lie is uncovered, my oh my, it's a great resolution. Though I saw it coming a ways ahead, it certainly didn't lose any impact.

“Sometimes the signs were subtle, like a fleeting shadow or an echo in the trees. Other times, the island wasn’t gentle with her words. This wasn’t like the gentle shift of wind before a storm. Something dead had woken.”


Spells for Forgetting is a wonderful blend of tragic love story and mystery with a dash of magic. The magic doesn't take over the story, but it definitely plays an important part. The setting on the remote island is very atmospheric and almost has a gothic vibe sometimes.

I think the characters of Emery and August are very well defined and believable and I thoroughly enjoyed the difficult dynamics of their relationship. Thankfully, this is NOT a sappy love story. The circumstances of the tragedy and ensuing secrets are believable. This is a book I did not want to put down!

Due out Sept 27, I highly recommend you pick it up ASAP.

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