Spells for Lost Things
Jenna Evans Welch
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published September 27, 2022
About Spells for Lost Things
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.
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?
One of the things that I find interesting about this book is the fact that both characters have issues with their moms. Willow’s mom is emotionally absent. She’s there, but she’s so remote that Willow feels distant from her. Add to that the fact that she has this whole secret past life including a family Willow has never even heard of, much less met, and it only makes sense that she’d feel estranged.
Then there’s Mason, whose mom has been missing for the last few years while he’s been shuffled around in foster care. He clings to rituals they used to share about looking for signs and exploring new places together, but he knows she’s a mess. It’s part of why he feels like he needs to find her. To help her get her life straight. After all, that’s what you do for the people you love, right?
So mom issues on both sides. Which is an interesting choice because Mason is seventeen. It seems unusual (though not impossible) that a boy that age would focus on his mom in that way. I thought that made him an unusual and empathetic character.
Willow’s great aunts were a lot of fun. I liked that they leaned into the witchy-ness of Salem and the family lore. I also loved the things that came up as Willow and Mason began to look more into their family history and to try to understand what happened and learn about Willow’s potential family curse.
The historical setting and letters from Willow’s aunt about the past all added some nice layers to the story. I think those were my favorite parts, actually. I loved getting to piece all that together and the way things shifted the more we learned about the past.
SPELLS FOR LOST THINGS is the second book by Jenna Evans Welch that I’ve read. I enjoyed it for sure– I’ve been reading such dark (spooky!) books lately that it was really nice to take a break and read a fluffy romance. I think I liked LOVE & OLIVES a teeny bit better than this one. That might be because of the Greek setting and the amazing bookstore in the book. It’s hard to beat that!
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Mason is in the foster care system.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
The bulk of the story is set in Salem, Massachusetts. There’s some discussion about its history, specifically the Salem Witch Trials. The town has also leaned into its witchy history and there are lots of businesses that references witchy things. Willow’s great aunts also describe themselves as witches and celebrate rituals at the full moon. There are rumors that the women in Willow’s family are under a curse which Willow decides to investigate.
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