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Spellcrossed, by Barbara Ashford Book Review | SFReader.com
Spellcrossed, by Barbara Ashford Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Daw Published: 2012 Review Posted: 4/22/2014 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Spellcrossed, by Barbara Ashford
Book Review by Joshua Palmatier
Have you read this book?
This is the second book in this series, the first being Spellcast. I really enjoyed both books and highly recommend them to urban fantasy readers who are looking for something a little different, something perhaps not quite as dark and with a slightly different feel than the typical urban fantasy out there. I strongly suggest these books to anyone who's more of the paranormal romance persuasion, since there's a strong romance plotline to both books.
The main premise behind this book is that Maggie Graham, once a helping professional (in the help hotline kind of vein) but at heart an actor, has taken over as director the Crossroads Theatre in Vermont. In the previous book, Spellcast, she found herself drawn to the theater when her life felt as if it were falling apart. But after auditioning for the summer stock theater and getting parts from the enigmantic and mysterious director Rowan McKenzie, she learned more about herself, her family, and the magical elements of the theater herself than she expected. Now, she wants that magic to continue as much as is possible with others who find themselves drawn to the small town atmosphere and the barn where the productions are produced. The only difference is that now she has to deal with a board of directors and a budget, along with worries about making enough money to at least break even. All while dealing with the loss of Rowan and her fiesty production crew with minds and wills of their own. The first musical--Annie--is stumbling along fine, with the usual hangups brought on by a cast of children and dogs, divas and amateurs. What Maggie isn't expecting is the sudden return of Rowan . . . and her long-lost father.
The book mainly deals with Maggie's emotional issues with her father, who vanished when she was little, Rowan and how he can fit into the new organization at the theater, Maggie's mother and new boyfriend, all while staging three musicals and handling the cast and crews problems and dramas as well. Thankfully she has the support of said cast and crew, who have adopted Maggie as part of their family. The best part of the book is, in fact, the characters and their interwoven problems. Unlike the first book, the theater itself is no longer the focus. It's still there, of course, causing problems and distractions, but this book shifts much more toward Maggie and the rest of the permanent crew at the theater, how their adapting to their new roles and how the theater is changing. Its this sense of family--with all of its dysfunctionality--that kept me riveted to the book.
And, once again, the musicals are interwoven into the relationships and drama happening off stage. There are parallels between what's on stage and what's occuring in Maggie's life. Sometimes those parallels are misinterpreted (very effectively in terms of plot, in my opinion). In the end, Spellcrossed is a great book, weaving subtle magic through the lives of those who have been drawn to the theater seeking something they can't explain and through Maggie's life and her relationships to her father, mother, Rowan, and the family she has found at the Crossroads. I recommend it to paranormal romance readers, urban fantasy readers, and anyone who enjoys (or enjoyed) summer stock theater. I've not read anything like it in the fantasy genre.