Review: The Charmed List by Julie Abe

The Charmed List by Julie Abe

The Charmed List
Julie Abe
Wednesday Books
Published July 5, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Charmed List

After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia.

But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.

In THE CHARMED LIST, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars.

The Charmed List on Goodreads

My Review

So… somehow I missed that this book had magic in it? I went back and read the cover copy, and it does talk about there being charms and a “secret magical world”, but I guess I assumed that was metaphorical? Whoops on my part.

It isn’t a bad thing for THE CHARMED LIST to have magic. I just wasn’t expecting that when I started reading, so I felt thrown for a chapter or two. Once I understood the magic system and how it worked, I connected with the story more.

I enjoyed the fact that their families have sort of rival businesses or roles in the community. And the setup of Ellie and Jack being forced to go on the road trip together was great. I loved that.

One of the things that kind of bugged me was the history between Ellie and Jack and even her feelings about him. It felt like she made some pretty harsh judgments about him at a time when he was deeply grieving. I kind of wished they talked more specifically about that and that Ellie had more opportunity to own that perhaps she made some mistakes, too. There’s a little bit of that.

The whole premise is that she and Jack had a big falling out that she’s still nursing hurt feelings over, and I could understand her feeling hurt over what happened. What was hard to understand was that she never considered that he’d just lost his mom, whom they were both close to. I guess I felt like Ellie sometimes came across as shallow and selfish.

That aside, I enjoyed the story’s awkward flirty moments, secret magical towns, and lots of the side characters in the book. Ellie’s sister and Jack’s brother are probably my favorites, but I really liked Ellie’s best friend, too.

All in all, this was a fun summertime read with a little magic sprinkled in. I think readers who enjoy books by Sandhya Menon will enjoy THE CHARMED LIST.

The Charmed List on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Major characters are Japanese American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Some characters have the ability to make charms from recipes. They imbue things like luck to the user. Many people are unaware of the existence of the magic or places that sell magical items. Their existence is a closely guarded secret.

Violent Content

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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