Spells for Forgetting

By Adrienne Young

Spells for Forgetting, a novel by Adrienne Young
Book details About the author

Having grown up in a village, life there had its pros and its cons. There is a real sense of community, and everyone knows each other. Great, but also not so great. Any small incident can become gossip, no matter how benign, so I can only imagine what would happen should a fire break out and a body be discovered. In a toxic place like the island of Saoirse, it led to accusations of murder. 14 years later the wounds have not healed, but August Salt needs to return to the island to bury his mother’s ashes, but will he ever manage to leave? 

The fire at the orchard and death of young woman, Lily, left an indelible impression on all the residents of Saoirse Island. August left for the mainland with his mother, accused of the murder, but never charged. However, the island always has a pull and August is back. This no ordinary place, steeped in the old ways, the locals believe in the use of magic. Could these old tales have something to do with Lily’s death? 

Magic can be written in many ways from the epic visual style of wizards in fantasy novels, to the more folk style found in Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young. The residents of Saoirse are not abnormal in their belief in magic, it is just most communities have moved on, but if you go to any local museum in the UK you will find charms that were dug out of the walls to protect from evil. The question should not be about people believing in magic, but whether it is real. 

At its heart this is a book about a community and relationships. August returns to discover that his childhood love, Emery, still live there. The connection between the two of them remains, even after over a decade of no communication. Emery is not sure how to handle August’s return, she has a new life now, with a new lover. The community is less confused, they want him gone by any means necessary. 

The magic in Spells is not front and centre, but instead weaves through the story silently. Instead, this is a mystery set on an island. Who killed Lily? A locked room puzzle, with only so many suspects. The story is mostly told from the perspective of August and Emery, one then the other. We get to see two sides of the story, each having love for the other, but also a suspicion. Dispersed through the book are chapters from other character's POVs or the past, these often give a new insight and push the crime element further. 

Spells is a book that can be read as a crime drama. All the elements are there and as the book progresses it certainly becomes more thrilling, and the truth is revealed. The fantastical elements of the book are downplayed, but still important, if nothing more for the way that they inform life on the island. The old ways remain strong and those that try to fight against them will always be viewed with suspicion. The story starts off relationship heavy, but the reader is rewarded as when the action peaks, you care for the characters involved.  

Written on 29th September 2022 by .

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