Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spell Check

Wright, J. (2014). Spell Check. St. George, UT: Heart Stone Press.

YA / Fantasy / Paranormal

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars

Be careful what you wish for because wishes can come true! It's Ally Peterson's sixteenth birthday, and as she dangles from a tree -- the victim of a cruel prank -- maybe Ally wishes a little nastiness on bully Lisa and the rest of the cheerleaders, and maybe those wishes come true. Ally soon finds out that it is not coincidence but her family lineage that is making her wishes come true, and that even the most innocent of wishes can have dire consequences. Already Ally's life is complicated with divorced parents, bullying that's lasted for years, an annoying little brother, and a crush on a boy who seems beyond her reach. But careless wishing creates even more complications, and now the stakes are high, Ally's mistakes are many, and time is running out for Ally to master the magic.  Can Ally balance her life with her new powers? 

Wright tells a great story with a unique premise (trolls!!) that manages to hit on a variety of elements that readers will recognize: imperfect families, friendship, finding your strengths, figuring out who you are, falling in love. There was one line I really liked, which could be taken literally within the context of the story but also at a more basic level about humanity:  

People speak of dark magic and light magic, but there is no such thing on either side — there are only people who practice in darkness and people who practice in the light.

Humor really helped carry the story along and when things got intense, the funny chapter titles  served as much needed comic relief.  Excellent secondary characters, like Ally's fabulous, feisty Swedish grandmother Farmor, further enhanced the story and their descriptions and actions made them easily imagined.  

There were so many good messages in the book, and it was refreshingly clean -- Ally had plenty of circumstances where no one would have blamed her for dropping an Fbomb or two, but how wonderfully surprising that there was no profanity, and the romance was sweet and thoughtful (but not at all dull).

Despite the main character being sixteen years old, this book would be great for middle grade readers or older reluctant readers.  The storyline doesn't get bogged down with too many details and the writing is pretty simplistic, yet highly interesting.  By the end of the story, I did feel there were too many people who were supposedly "in the know" and sworn to secrecy, and yeah, I think readers know how that probably would turn-out. And though I was happy that Ally ultimately handled being bullied, the scene itself was somewhat vague and anticlimactic. 

I do have a gripe about the cover (but it didn't affect my review) -- it just doesn't fit.  There are no spell books or fancy form fitting dresses for Ally, and if anything, Farmor mocks the preconceived notions of witches and spells. 

I received this book from Ebooks For Review in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.


  1. Thank you for the great review. It's funny that you mentioned the cover because it's changing. Within a week, Spell Check will have a new wrapper. The new cover will fit the tone of the book MUCH better.

    1. Awesome! I can't wait to see it! I went to the YA Lit Symposium this past weekend and heard from MANY authors how little control they have over their covers. Quite frustrating for them. When you can share the cover, I'd love to update my post, Tweets, etc. and show it off.