Spells is the second book in Aprilynne Pike’s YA series about Laurel, a sixteen year old girl who just recently discovered she is really a Fall fairy. She has a human boyfriend, David, and is very much attracted to a fellow fairy, Tamani. As a Spring fairy, Tamani is below her in the fairy social hierarchy, so there’s an interesting tension between him being her guide to the fairy world, and thus someone on whom she depends, and him having to walk behind her and having to ask her to ask him to dance. Spells has Laurel spending a summer in the fairy world and learning how to be a fairy. When she goes back to the human world, she then has to deal with trolls, and with David encouraging her to live a more fully human life.
I didn’t read Wings, the first book in the series, but it’s fairly simple enough to catch up, with Pike giving enough background to keep me in the loop without boring those who have read Wings. I did have some unanswered questions though, which I suppose must have been tackled in Wings – what’s this land that Laurel is supposed to protect, why are the trolls after it, and is there any reason (other than her being the only fairy raised as a human) that Laurel is special to the fairy world?
There are some interesting elements in the story. I like how Pike depicts Laurel’s more complicated relationship with her parents now that they know she’s a fairy; Laurel’s mom’s reaction in particular is very realistic. I also like the social hierarchy in the fairy realm, mostly because it enhances the Tamani/Laurel romance. Laurel is clearly uncomfortable with it, and there’s the hint that Laurel may some day lead a fairy revolution. I enjoyed learning about the fairy world, especially about the potions class.
That being said, Spells didn’t grab me. Possibly, there was just too much fairy school and not enough troll-fighting, but I actually liked the fairy realm parts all right. I think it’s more that with such amazing YA series in the market (Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians), this one just pales in comparison. Spells has an okay story, with okay characters and some interesting elements, but it’s nothing special. If you’re an Aprilynne Pike fan, or a fan of fairies in general, and you think you’ll be interested in this story, the paperback of Spells and the hardcover of the third book in the series, Illusions, are both coming out this April.