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Spellcast Mass Market Paperback – May 3, 2011
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Four Stars. (Romantic Times Book Reviews)
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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 barbara-ashford.com.
Top customer reviews
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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. This is a "feel-good" book with a surprisingly complex plot that resolves nicely. The author does an excellent job with the emotional content, and handles a large cast of characters with apparent ease. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be entertained and moved.
Think of a summer stock theater that casts roles by personal needs rather than talent per se- and in which personal growth is valued over performance (though performance is not scanted). Add fey magic to help make this work...
This was a complex and interesting book, with some great characters and an idiosyncratic take on the fey.
The large cast is wonderfully drawn, with enough detail and personality to keep each of the actors alive on the page without stealing the show. They've all come to the theater needing something. The glimpses the reader gets into their lives are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and often a bit of both. For all the care that has been put into creating the lively cast, though, the focus is always on Maggie, and on Rowan, the mysterious director/writer at the theater.You know right away that there is something mysterious and quite possibly magical about Rowan, but the gradual revelation of his identity pulls you along anyway, eager to know more and to see how the knowledge will change Maggie's relationship with him.
Because they do, of course, have a relationship. They're drawn to one another romantically right away, and it would have been easy to fall into a typical pattern for an urban fantasy romance. But they're both adults, people who know who they are and don't think the first flutter of lust is some primal true love. When they draw apart and then draw close together, it feels real and permanent in a way that is rare to see on the page.
SPELLCAST made me laugh many times, and once or twice made me tear up, too. If you like musicals or romance or magic that manages to be both powerful and subtle, it's the book for you.
Most recent customer reviews
"Spellcast" by Barbara Ashford is a sweetly fantastic book that conjures up the highs and lows of summer theater as it tells the tale of Maggie Graham who ends...Read more