November 17, 2017

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Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle | SLJ Review

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redstarFOWLEY-DOYLE, Moïra. Spellbook of the Lost and Found. 368p. Penguin/Kathy Dawson Bks. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525429494.

Gr 9 Up –This lush and deliciously twisty contemporary Irish novel, set in Balmallen, County Mayo, population 2,400, has just a hint of the supernatural. It takes the form of the red, leather-bound Spellbook of the Lost and Found, which three friends find when their diaries go missing just before the town’s annual early May bonfire. The temptation to call for “the lost to be found” is great, and since “every lost thing requires a sacrifice—a new loss for every called thing found,” the repercussions of the teens’ spell are far-reaching and profound. Readers slowly realize just how far-reaching and profound as the mystery unfolds and they learn the identities of the spell casters. Secrets abound, and many of the outings and adventures are fueled by high drama and strong spirits, including poteen, or moonshine. Fowley-Doyle is herself a literary spell caster, conjuring up a suspenseful and sensual ambience in the forest on the edges of town and in the remains of bonfire revelry. The chapters are narrated from the points of view of six different teens over time, and their voices and connections are immediately distinctive and relatable. They all experience losses, some of which are serious and debilitating, yet the overarching theme, if there is one, is the motto that Olive discovers written on her arm the morning after the party: if you don’t get lost, you’ll never be found. ­VERDICT This smart and sexy page-turner that readers will want to devour and share with their friends is a real find.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

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