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Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Magical realism

Spells for Forgetting

by Adrienne Young

Excellent choice

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Quick take

Beware of the spell that this seemingly idyllic island can cast; everything is a bit more haunted than it appears...

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Multiple_Viewpoints

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Creepy

    Creepy

  • Illustrated icon, Rural

    Rural

  • Illustrated icon, Magical

    Magical

Synopsis

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.

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.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Spells for Forgetting.

Spells for Forgetting

One

AUGUST

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

I stood at the bow of the ferry as Saoirse emerged from the mist like a sleeping giant tucked into the cold waters. The biting wind had numbed my fingers clutched around the railing and they tightened as I swallowed. I’d imagined that moment a thousand times, even on days that I wasn’t completely convinced the island had ever existed. But there it was, as real as the skin that covered my bones.

I tucked my hands into the pockets of my jacket, turning my back to the sight of it. As if that would somehow erase all the darkness that had happened there. The last time I’d stood on the deck of that ferry, I was eighteen years old, and instead of watching it grow bigger in the distance, I’d watched it disappear, along with the life I’d lived there. My mother had kept her face turned away from me just enough to hide the tears striping her reddened cheeks, but I could feel in the center of my chest the words she wasn’t saying. That I’d fucked everything up. And that deep down, she would never forgive me for it.

My eyes dropped heavily to the pack at my feet, where the smooth emerald face of the urn was visible through the cinched opening. Even in those final days, she’d never spoken a word of any of it. We swore we’d never go back to Saoirse, and we hadn’t. That was one of many promises we’d kept. So why, after all these years, had she broken it?

The only answer to that question was one I couldn’t stomach.

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Why I love it

I often crave the autumn—the crisp turn of the air, changing leaves, pumpkin patches, and uncanny sense that this season possesses a magic all its own if you just take the time to look. From its very first pages, Adrienne Young’s adult debut, Spells for Forgetting, spoke to my autumnal cravings and cast a quick spell on me.

Saiorse is an island off the coast of Washington, reachable only by ferry, and full of secrets. These secrets begin clawing their way to the surface when August Salt returns to the island after vanishing fourteen years ago amidst accusations of murder. When August’s sudden reappearance is accompanied by bad omens that tie into the island’s rich folklore and magic, it quickly becomes clear that this unwanted event will upend the lives of every resident in this close-knit community.

I loved how this story, told in a number of perspectives, skillfully explores how one incident can change so many lives in unexpected ways. If you want to get embroiled in a mystery, lost on a spellbinding island, or swept away by a star-crossed love story that will pull on your heart strings and leave you completely unraveled, Spells for Forgetting is your perfect read.

Member ratings (8,295)

  • Melissa D.

    Dos Palos, CA

    There is a lot of set up to this book! Lots of “well maybe” and “oh no definitely” followed by a “wait, no, it can’t be”. Great read! Great story telling! It’s not always for the good of the people.

  • Leora K.

    Sarasota, FL

    Practical Magic (the movie) meets We Were Liars Forks, Washington setting ✔ Magical tea shop and apothecary ✔ Dark witchy spells and grimoires ✔ First love ✔ Family secrets ✔ Atmospheric writing ✔

  • Emily S.

    Richwood, OH

    At first I wasn’t sure about the hype I had been seeing. After having read it, it was completely justified. Loved from start to finish. A land of magic woven in and it’s effect on the people there. ❤️

  • Madelyn K.

    Asheville, NC

    A great ending, very sweet compared to some of the darkness throughout this tale. The mystery was more prevalent than the mystical, but Saoirse definitely sounds like a place I'd like to visit. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • BreeSean P.

    Madison, WI

    I’ll say it more throughout my life-we need more fantasy mysteries. Another reviewer put it perfectly: “Slow and atmospheric”. The flashbacks & 1-off POVs peppered in keeps the right amount of hooked.

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A Short Walk Through a Wide World
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The Astonishing Color of After
The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World
All of Us with Wings
The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic