|Title: Beautifully Broken
Author: Sherry Soule
Series: Spellbound #1
Cover Art: Rachel Rivera
Genre: Paranormal YA
Reviewed by: Julia
Intense making out and discussion of sex.
Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.
Thirteenth daughter. Heritage witch. Demon slayer.
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse.
Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. When she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes spellbound by his charms. Yet she is determined to discover the connection between them before it’s too late.
Finally, Shiloh’s met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list. And Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?
It sucks to have a destiny, especially since Shiloh would rather spend her summer being a normal girl who worries about clothes and boys, not the supernatural. But she’s never been normal and the stranger things become the more her own magical senses awaken.
With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, she will begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.
Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.
With a mix of pop culture references and old school witch craft, BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN develops an above average number of metaphysical and social details for a YA novel. While this isn’t bad thing (especially at the start of a series), there were a few key failures that, for my part, will keep me from finding out where all of these different avenues are leading.
The first road block I encountered was a lot of “tell me” writing, which unfortunately, used the voice of a very immature main character. While I wouldn’t say Shiloh was poorly written or unbelievable (especially for a nearly-sixteen-year-old), she could be repetitive, oblivious, or boorish in turn. I tend to prefer characters that are too perfect rather than too flawed, so I struggled with Shiloh’s faults. For readers who don’t mind main characters with lots of room to grow, Shiloh is your girl.
The world in which Shiloh is growing up (hopefully), is a complex mix of Gothic, urban, and pop culture fantasy. Think Buffy living in present day Salem battling an evil version of the Canterville Ghost. I liked this mix of vibes, and it was the world building that kept me reading around Shiloh. However, in classic Ghostbusters fashion, these various streams worked best in BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN when they didn’t cross through the same scene. There were definitely a few moments of high melodrama that had me laughing and shaking my head, even as I kept reading for more.
While BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN doesn’t end with a classic cliffhanger, it explores such a wide story line there is no way to wrap everything up in one book. Soule provides a climax for this particular book, but the real resolution of Shiloh’s trials (and most of the details I was interested in) will have to wait until later. For the reasons mentioned above, this series doesn’t work for me, but curiosity about about the town of Whispering Pines just might manage to lure me back for book two.