Willow has never felt like she belonged anywhere and is convinced that the only way to find a true home is to travel the world. But her plans to act on her dream are put on hold when her aloof and often absent mother drags Willow to Salem, Massachusetts, to wrap up the affairs of an aunt Willow didn’t even know she had. An aunt who may or may not have been a witch.
There, she meets Mason, a loner who’s always felt out of place and has been in and out of foster homes his entire life. He’s been classified as one of the runaways, constantly searching for ways to make it back to his mom; even if she can’t take care of him, it’s his job to try and take care of her. Isn’t it?
Naturally pulled to one another, Willow and Mason set out across Salem to discover the secret past of Willow’s mother, her aunt, and the ambiguous history of her family. During all of this, the two can’t help but act on their natural connection. But with the amount of baggage between them—and Willow’s growing conviction her family might be cursed—can they manage to hold onto each other?
From the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato comes a poignant and romantic novel about two teens trying to find their place in the world after being unceremoniously dragged to Salem, Massachusetts, for the summer.
**Spells for Lost Things comes out September 27, 2022**
Thank you Simon & Schuster for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
In Jenna’s latest novel that is separate from her renown Love & Gelato series, I found her usual whimsical storytelling with likable protagonists set in a location that becomes as much of a character as anyone. Spells for Lost Things is a heartfelt novel about two individuals who don’t know where they belong in this world, but perhaps could find what they’re each searching for with one another’s help.
Yes, this is a dual POV story and I was totally here for it. I loved how both Mason and Willow have such distinctive voices right from the start and it totally adds to the story by knowing their deepest thoughts and struggles both so intimately.
Mason is an astronomy lover, and the little geeky stargazer that I am was super ecstatic with all the star facts just splayed across this story. Also, he keeps a star log and I absolutely need to do that over a traditional journal. Being a foster kid in search of his mom’s whereabouts, immediately we get the sense of his struggles as she had always been the anchor to Earth, the gravity that kept him moving from home to home because they’d be reunited one day when she was ready. I don’t have firsthand intimate knowledge of what the foster system is like, but I did think his actions and behaviour felt genuine when placed in his new foster home. He wasn’t always happy or outwardly grateful but my heart couldn’t help but love him for what he had gone through and was still working out.
Willow brought some more of the lightness to the story, although her own struggles with her workaholic mom was prevalent. Her mom’s secrets and distant behaviour left Willow in search for home, that sense of feeling that she belonged and fitted somewhere. Like Mason, she too was unmoored and had a wanderlust that drove her restless to see all that was out there in the world.
That being said, while it could’ve been a really serious and dark book, the balance of fun and lightheartedness worked out well in the context of Willow’s search for her witchy ancestry. With the help of Mason by her side to decode her aunt’s clues left for her and her mom to follow surrounding a mystery in their ancestor’s past in Salem, their struggles and individual losses were brought to light that felt natural. The chemistry between the two teens were present right away. While I loved both characters individually for who they were – a grand feat as YA romances sometimes define their protagonists based on their interactions with one another and not as separate individuals – I am glad their interaction as a unit was just as beautiful.
I mentioned earlier that the location is just as big of a presence as any person in the story. Like Jenna’s previous books, Salem gets brought to life on page before us. For someone like me who hasn’t travelled extensively to such locations, I felt like I was walking down the streets with them, seeing ghost tours, feeling the 365-day year round Halloween spirit that still had room to be amplified more in October. The witch aspect of the story wasn’t super developed like other books, so don’t expect a whole system described about how spells work or their specific beliefs. This might’ve been something that would bother me in another story, but it worked in this one. Being witches is not the main focus, although Willow’s eccentric great-aunts were such wonderful gems that brought the comic relief. But I will warn that may be something certain readers would want to see more, so unfortunately I’m letting you know now it may not be as expected.
Overall, Jenna Evans Welch displayed she can write a fun contemporary story even within a more local setting while focusing on character development that made her protagonists shine brightly. Spells for Lost Things is a perfect read for contemporary romance lovers and comes at the perfect time to snuggle up with a blanket on a cold October evening.
Spells for Lost Things follows 2 protagonists, Mason and Willow, on their individual journeys to seek what they feel is missing in their lives. It brings them on a crash course collision in Salem, home of magic and whimsical longing. Salem was beautifully described, almost like a character itself, and it made me want to take a visit there some time. The seriousness of both protagonists’ struggles with feeling lost was balanced with the lightness that came with Willow’s quest to discover her family’s past, including the fact that she is a descendant of a line of witches. I really enjoyed the character development most in this book for each character, and their romance was sweet and perfect for any who loves a good ending. Overall, a solid read and continues to show off Jenna Evans Welch’s writing in this genre.