Spellcast [NOOK Book]


When Maggie Graham lost her job and her apartment fell to pieces, she decided to flee New York City for a while and hide in Vermont, at the Crossroads Theatre. She hadn't planned to audition, yet soon ...
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When Maggie Graham lost her job and her apartment fell to pieces, she decided to flee New York City for a while and hide in Vermont, at the Crossroads Theatre. She hadn't planned to audition, yet soon found herself part of the summer stock cast. But her previous acting experiences couldn't prepare her for the theater's unusual staff-and its handsome, almost otherworldly director.

Read Barbara Ashford's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn
There's a vast but little known overlap between fans of fantasy and fans of musical theater, and Barbara Ashford hits the sweet spot on both with SPELLCAST. It's warm, humorous, emotional, heartfelt, and full of magic. Curse you, Barbara, for making me cry! And for getting ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ stuck in my head all week.
[A] charming fantasy novel...left me wanting more, in fine theatrical tradition.
New Myths
One of those rare gems...something completely unique in the pantheon of novels I have read over a lifetime. It is a love story, a fantasy, a mystery, and a theatre book all rolled up into one.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101514672
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 327,409
  • File size: 699 KB

Meet the Author

Barbara Ashford grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and began her theatrical debut at an early age. After performing all over in converted playhouses from barns to churches to used car showrooms, she gave up performance to write musical theatre. Eventually she returned to fiction, using her theatre background to create the novel that became Spellcast. Barbara Ashford can be found at barbara-ashford.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 6, 2011

    The best sort of fairy tale

    It is obviously a sign from above that Maggie needs a change of scene when she is not only fired, but the ceiling of her bathroom collapses on top of her while she tries to take a consolatory bath. She packs a bag and leaves New York City for Vermont, intent on finding a Bed and Breakfast. What she finds instead is the Crossroads Theater and its enigmatic director Rowan.

    Spellcast is a fairy tale, and like all the best fairy tales it is dark and dangerous, and examines all of the things about ourselves we would rather not look at. It also glimmers with wide eyed wonder and rustles with restless energy. It is impossible to put down.

    Ashford's love of theater is apparent and will touch everyone who has had the luck to walk across the stage, and everyone who has ever wanted to. She captures the camaraderie of the theater perfectly, with all of its dysfunctions and drama. Her descriptions of things I enjoyed so much when I was younger, my time spent engaged in summer theater, tickled a smile onto my face and marched goosebumps down my arms. It was perfect. And I didn't realize I had enjoyed theater as much as I had, or that I missed it. It is an amazing author that can appeal to memories that are almost 20 years old and get me to recall them so vividly.

    And it isn't just theater. It is family, and friends, relationships and work and all those little and not so little things that fill our lives and make us who we are.

    Spellcast can be a very personal read, if you let it. And I encourage you greatly to do so.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A wonderful whimsical witty tale

    Following losing her job and the ceiling plaster in her New York apartment caving in, Maggie Graham decides to spend a weekend in Vermont to get away before regrouping. When she learns of summer stock roles performing at the Crossroads Theatre in a barn just outside Dale, Maggie shocks herself and decides to audition. She is further stunned when she obtains roles in three shows.

    Maggie muses how she has come full circle; having left the stage years ago only to return. She finds the troupe odd yet endearing. However, Maggie is most disturbed by director Rowan Mackenzie, who she has never seen leave the Crossroads Theater and never casts a person in the role they plan to try out for; instead he somehow knows what the person needs to perform on stage and in life.

    Maggie keeps this wonderful whimsical witty tale focused as her past (she feels she failed professionally and personally) has impacted her present belief she is a loser and how she feels about her lack of a future. The theater proves healing and mesmerizing as it casts a spell on Maggie (and the audience). The otherworldly elements subtly enhance Barbara Ashford's tender look at a second chance at making dreams real.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An interesting Magical Read

    I thought this was going to be a simple novel about a young woman finding herself on a journey of self exploration after losing her job. It's much deeper and way more involved then that. Maggie, the main character is frustrated and sort of lost after losing her job. She decided to take a long weekend up in New England to try and clear her head, and figure out what she wants to do with her life. Traffic on the interstate is so bad that she grabs an exit onto the road less traveled and ends up in a small town with a Summer Stock theater.

    So now we have her auditioning, studying parts, interacting with the crew and finding herself enjoying things. I enjoyed it immensely and hope the author Barbara Ashford gets enough letters and e-mail to both herself and the publisher so that we will be treated to a second book. There certainly is more then enough material to do justice to another one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    Magic and Romance, All In One!

    Barbara Ashford's debut novel is at once fantastical, realistic, heartwarming, and touching. It begins with Maggie Graham losing her job and having her bathroom ceiling plaster cave in on her while she's taking a relaxing conciliatory bath. Fed up, she decides she needs a break from Brooklyn and her life and heads to Vermont in her car. There, she finds the Crossroads Theater and, reaching back to her original passion before she settled for a 9-5 day job, she "accidentally" auditions for the summer stock roles.

    All of this happens in the first few chapters of the book. After this, Maggie sinks herself into the theater while keeping her illicit affair with the stage secret from her mom and working half-heartedly on seeking another job. As the summer progresses, she begins to realize that there is more going on at the theater than it at first appears, something magical. The director and the staff seem to be able to take ordinary people with no theater experience and turn them into decent actors over the course of a few weeks, and most of these newbie actors undergo some kind of life-changing transformation, most for the better. Meanwhile, Maggie gets along fine with the staff, but seems to be in continual confrontation with the director about nearly everything. HER life doesn't seem to be getting better. Until they hit the production of <i>Carousel</i> and she's forced to confront her role as Nettie . . . and her own past.

    This is not really urban fantasy, more of what I'd call contemporary fantasy. The magic is subtle and evocative, not in your face, and the general feel of the novel is in no way "dark" as I expect of most urban fantasies. There is a strong romance element in this novel. It will appeal to urban fantasy readers and paranormal romance readers alike, mostly because it has all of those elements but is slightly . . . different. It's a refreshing take on those two genres. Readers will love Maggie with all of her insecurities and the sheer reality of her life, and they will root for her as the confrontation with the director, Rowan MacKenzie, progresses and Maggie discovers the true magic behind the Crossroads Theater. I'll definitely be reading the sequels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Paperback/Paranormal Romance: I wanted so much to like this bo

    Paperback/Paranormal Romance: I wanted so much to like this book more, but it was a struggle to read it for me. This book has everything; fantasy, romance, kookie characters, mystery, and I was in drama club in high school. I started reading this in the summer and still I couldn't fully get into the book.
    Maggie finds herself suddenly unemployed and decides to joyride for the weekend because her apartment is too depressing. She ends up in Vermont and joining summer stock. The book goes zero to 80 with interesting characters.
    As many plays as I seen or just know about, I have no idea about Brigadoon or Carousel. The novel makes several hints about parallels to Brigadoon, which I of course, didn't get. The book is more romance than fantasy, with magic as the catalyst on why everyone ended up not wanting to leave the plays even though they had commitments on the outside. Even Maggie was suppose to be trying to find a job in between rehearsals.
    Again, I really wanted to love the book and I honestly don't know why I barely liked it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

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