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Spellcast by [Ashford, Barbara]
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Spellcast Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Length: 446 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


Four Stars. (Romantic Times Book Reviews)

A surprisingly poignant novel...woven by an author with a deft touch at creating a realistic and emotional love story. (Night Owl Reviews Top Pick)

There's a vast but little known overlap between fans of fantasy and fans of musical theater, and Barbara Ashford hits the sweet spot on both with SPELLCAST. It's warm, humorous, emotional, heartfelt, and full of magic. Curse you, Barbara, for making me cry! And for getting ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ stuck in my head all week.
(New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn)

[A] charming fantasy novel...left me wanting more, in fine theatrical tradition.

One of those rare gems... something completely different... a love story, a fantasy, a mystery, and a theatre book all rolled into one. (New Myths)

About the Author

Barbara Ashford grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and began her theatrical debut at an early age. After performing all over in converted playhouses from barns to churches to used car showrooms, she gave up performance to write musical theatre. Eventually she returned to fiction, using her theatre background to create the novel that became Spellcast. Barbara Ashford can be found at

Product Details

  • File Size: 1554 KB
  • Print Length: 446 pages
  • Publisher: DAW (May 3, 2011)
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004XFZ4DG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,218 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
After hearing so many good things about Spellcast by Barbara Ashford I knew I had to read it, I was waiting for the perfect moment and it came during my vacation, a vacation in which I vowed not to read (much) or do anything book related. But Spellcast had another idea; after reading just couple of paragraphs I found myself completely surrendered to its magic and wishing for more alone time to read.

I like and enjoy theater but if I'm being honest I don't know much about what's going on behind the curtains nor do I know about the process it takes for an idea to become a reality in a stage. Mrs. Ashford clearly knows her theater and in Spellcast she masterfully brings all her knowledge to the pages making us live and experience the life behind and on the theater.

What I liked about Spellcast? I liked everything, there is nothing I can say I didn't like. Spellcast is a book that made me laugh, cry, hope and wish for more. The characters are diverse and so well written that they felt very real, so real that you can identify them with people you know. They all have their flaws and their good qualities, flaws and qualities you also identify in yourself and others.

Maggie is a great heroine, her life is upside-down and she finds herself in a weird theater, surrounding by unconventional people. She knows there is more to them and the theater even though they are pretending everything is normal. I loved how she was stubborn enough not to let other people's suggestions change her reality.

Rowan is the mysterious hero with a secret past and an aura of sadness surrounding him. He is moody and reclusive but lives to helps others.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an unusual novel in that it combines contemporary fantasy and a highly realistic account of what it takes to put on musical theater in summer stock. I enjoy theater although I've never worked behind the scenes, but the author clearly knows her stuff. Her descriptions of all aspects of putting on a play, from casting, rehearsing, set design, the anxieties of an amateur cast, and the relationships among cast and crew are all finely drawn and believable.

The POV character, Maggie, is a bit of a mess when the novel starts. She finds herself unemployed and at loose ends. Seemingly by accident, she encounters a summer theater group in Vermont that pulls at her like all good calls from spirit. She has had some acting experience, and finds herself in an unlikely group of cast members who were also "called" to Vermont to learn something about themselves. The crew is strangely mysterious, and the director, Rowan, is a melancholy, mysterious and complex man who immediately attracts Maggie and also brings to the fore her insecurities about herself.

Rowan has a secret, though, as do many of the characters, and as the novel unfolds, we learn why Rowan feels a responsibility to help his unlikely cast members learn something about themselves as they struggle to become actors for a summer.

The writing is excellent throughout, the characters well drawn, and, although I felt the novel dragged a bit in the middle, the last half was well worth the effort. The author has an interesting take on the paranormal elements. Some of the images in the resolution of the book are still with me.

Maggie not only learns what she went to Vermont to learn about herself, but also comes to terms with unresolved family issues.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Spellcast is a wonderful fantasy-romance with enough mystery and suspense to keep readers guessing until the last page. A mysterious director beckons people from all over the country to his theater to perform musicals based on what they "need" to learn. The 32-year-old heroine begins to delve into the director's secrets while (naturally) falling in love with him.

The narrative voice tends toward chic-lit side rather than epic fantasy, and it worked marvelously well. I loved getting the inside knowledge of theater that Barbara Ashford obviously brings to the tale.

Despite being lifelong lover of fantasy, I have found most fantasy romances to be largely unsatisfying (the books of Juliette Marillier being an exception). Spellcast won't disappoint.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you have immersed yourself into the amateur acting sub-culture, this novel is exactly what you want to read. It's filled to the brim with inside jokes (I didn't get) and theater references. The magic is subtle, not as big a part of this novel as the emotional transformations of the cast. The magic is more an explanation for why these normal people can act with the minimum rehearsal time.

So why aren't I cheering along with the other reviewers? The book was more romance than fantasy, with character transformation, showtunes, and theater jargon being the whole thing. The author makes an effort at mystery (Director Rowan), but it turns into a veneer/delivery vehicle for the romance. The Crossroads Theater in Vermont feels more like rural America in the 1960's than the rural town I live in, and I found the hospitality of the townsfolk more a 'fantasy' than the rest of the book. The author assumes the reader knows the plots for musical theater; "Carousel", "The Elephant Man", "Into the Woods", and others are all referenced by page twenty-five. If you aren't familiar with theater (like me), the book loses a certain something and becomes merely 'OK'.

If you did tons of plays in college and high school and still have lines from them memorized, then add a star. If romance if your favorite kind of book, add another star. On the other hand, if you only like fast-paced actiony fantasy with combat and flashy magic, subtract a star.
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