1) Foreword Clarion Review, JOHN M. MURRAY (November 3, 2020)
With story lines that warn against focusing too much on the future and not enjoying the present, The Spell is a captivating fantasy novel.
In C. V. Shaw’s endearing fantasy novel The Spell, a curse befalls a royal family and thrusts the entire kingdom into an adventure that spans generations.
In an alternate version of 1500s England, King Maurice and Queen Lilac rule over peaceful Fleurham. But a fateful encounter with a strange bird, and the attempted assassination of Princess Isabella, propels their royal family into darkness. To rescue Isabella from the clutches of an unknown curse, the king disappears into the surrounding forest, seeking any means of help. Months pass, and the king is nowhere to be found. As the royal family threatens to crumble from within, others find themselves swept up in strange and unusual adventures themselves, including the castle steward, Johndor, and the bickering witches who call the forest home.
Isabella and her curse are the driving force of the narrative, but secondary characters often steal the focus. Johndor and his family, who live and work within the castle, have a startling history related to their beloved queen; a pair of women known for their magical prowess have rich backstories filled with intrigue and backstabbing; and the king’s lifelong horse, Isiah, meets a tragic fate. Each of these disparate plot lines connect in surprising ways. Meanwhile, the truth behind the curse is obscured, though a charlatan witch’s antics hint at a possible explanation and cure.
The novel blends elements of magical realism and historical fantasy in an intriguing way, with a firm eye on the wondrous: Isabella is cursed by a magical arrow, Isiah combats ethereal hummingbirds, and King Maurice succumbs to a half-baked spell hidden within an everyday item. Sensory details, as of the crunch of leaves and the incessant buzzing of a fly, capture the imagination, making otherwise ordinary scenes feel magical.
But there are abrupt narrative shifts that compromise the book’s tension: the story leaps forward after the curse is revealed, and a significant amount of time is skipped over. A flashback to the events leading up to the assassination attempt comes without warning or enough context; while it fills in interesting details, it also compromises attention.
Further, the book’s characterizations are at first limited to fairy tale tropes, with people defined according to their roles or positions in society; as the book continues, their nuances are better revealed, and they come to hold more individualized attention. This is especially true of Johndor, who is revealed to be burdened by his tragic past and driven to protect those whom he considers family.
As its characters learn that you can’t protect against destiny, and that attempting to change the future results in painful present circumstances, they also come to accept difficult realities. At its end, the story is rounded and satisfying, with the truth about Isabella’s curse revealed in full.
Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review The Spell is set in rural sixteenth-century England, where a royal family faces the curse brought by a strange bird and an archer. The threat doesn't just come from a spell, however, but the psychological impact it has on a mother and her entire family.
Daughter Isabella finds her mother's obsession with the curse is challenging life as much as the threat itself. Charged with trying to effect changes that shield her both from magic and her mother's reactions, Isabella finds herself a prisoner of love as much as adversity.
As a child, Isabella enjoys some of the few contacts she has with the outside world. This taste of the forbidden, her mother's drive to keep her safe, and how the inhabitants of the outside world find their lives entwined with the fate of the castle's residents makes for a thought-provoking story that traces family relationships that evolve under a cloud of threat.
Isabella (whose name has been changed to Celeste by her protective mother) is the focal point, despite the ongoing bad luck which too-closely follows her footsteps into the world and inside the castle.
C.V. Shaw does an outstanding job of capturing Isabella's emotions as she blossoms and confronts the things that scare her the most: She began to fear the change this act would bring. She feared that she would bury her identity with it. She was used to her cursed life. She had accepted that any chance of happiness would always be short-lived. She started getting cold feet as she identified herself more and more with the cursed arrow.
In her quest for a stolen heritage, life, and happiness, Isabella is forced into the kinds of changes everyone feared.
Readers of romantic fantasy stories who enjoy an evolutionary exploration of a young girl's revised role in not just her family but its choices and her future will find The Spell truly captivating. It's a work that casts its own special magic on the reader's heart as Isabella follows an uncertain path into the world and her true heritage.
James Cox, Midwest Book Review, Small Press Bookwatch: September 2020 The Spell by C. V. Shaw is set in the countryside of sixteenth-century England in the town of Fleurham and is the story of King Maurice, Queen Lilac, their daughter, Princess Isabella, and a curse that threatens to tear their world apart.
When Princess Isabella has an encounter with a strange bird and an arrow shot by a mysterious archer, the royal family's world is turned upside down. Maurice goes in search of the archer and instead falls victim to a spell himself. Lilac, back home at the castle, becomes increasingly obsessed with freeing her daughter from the arrow's curse. Isabella grows up under the dark cloud of the curse and her mother's obsession with it, developing her own abilities along the way.
Filled with magic and intrigue at every turn, The Spell also tells the tale of the other inhabitants of the castle (Johndor, Minna, and their daughters Bethlynn and Lauren) as well as various local characters (the gifted Thumbeline, the treacherous Carmile, and the mysterious Maggy Mae), as their lives intertwine with the royal family's.
Critique: Showcasing a genuine flair for originality and the kind of entertaining narrative storytelling style the fully engages the reader's total attention from first page to last, it is all the more impressive when considering that The Spell is author C. V. Shaw's debut as a novelist. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that The Spell is also readily available in a digital book format
The BookLife Prize, September 17, 2020
Plot: Shaw's plotting is quickly paced and engaging yet never feels rushed. The many different plotlines that emerge following the injury of Princess Isabella, however sometimes add confusion to an already intricate narrative and could benefit from clarification. Prose/Style: Shaw's prose is formal yet unpretentious and works to help set the scene of the novel. The tone feels appropriate for the sixteenth century English locale without being so elevated as to isolate readers.
Originality: Fans of historical fantasy will find much to love in Shaw's work. Queen Lilac is a compelling character whose obsession with the curse and the subsequent ramifications adds weight and intrigue to the story.
Character/Execution: Johndor is a strong protagonist; his proximity to family despite being non-royal provides a grounded perspective to the hectic events of the novel, and readers will likely find his loyalty towards and trust from the family endearing. The royal family itself is a wild cast of characters that rounds out the novel nicely.
Score: • Plot/Idea: 7 • Originality: 8 • Prose: 7 • Character/Execution: 7 • Overall: 7.25
K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Spell is a work of fiction in the fantasy, fairy tale, and suspense sub-genres, and was penned by author C. V. Shaw. Taking the classic atmosphere of fairy tales and giving them a dark and thrilling twist, we find ourselves in the kingdom of Fleurham where King Maurice and Queen Lilac each have their own agendas to try to control the kingdom and save their daughter. Isabella, the princess in question, lives amongst this power play as a terrible curse plagues every day of her life. What results is a fantastic adventure mixing sixteenth-century English history with lavish magic and interpersonal drama.
Author C. V. Shaw has crafted a truly fantastic tale that will surely please fans of fantasy, fairy tale, and romantic suspense genres, and it packs a whole lot of passionate punches for a debut novel. One of the things which I really adored throughout was the building of atmosphere and the way that the mood shifted with the depiction of different scenes and how the characters physically reacted to what was happening to them. It gives a strong sense of immersion where you can be in the character’s head and emote with them, and this connecting kept me rooting for Isabella in particular as the rest of the exciting plot unfolded. The dialogue too was excellently penned, smacking of authentic history and character realism. Overall, I would highly recommend The Spell to fantasy fans for its accomplished writing style, immersive worldbuilding, and fantastic characters.
Rylanne Burdette, reader The Spell by C. V. Shaw is a fantasy novel about a royal family that struggles to get along with one another while fighting against curses that continually get placed upon them. When Princess Isabella is shot in the leg with what is supposedly a cursed arrow, King Maurice rushes off to find the one who shot her. The problem is, he never returns. For years, Queen Lilac and Isabella are without the king and have no idea where he is. Life moves on, and the queen and princess face their own trials as Maurice makes a new life for himself. Will the royal family ever be reunited? Will the situations that continually befall them ever provide happiness rather than harm?
I personally really enjoyed The Spell It was an extremely quick and easy read, and C. V. Shaw writes with grace and elegance. My favorite aspect of the novel was the development of the characters, and I loved reading about Isabella because her flaws made her someone that I could connect to. Overall, the plot was enjoyable and exciting, and it was easy to read large portions of this book in short amounts of time because I was able to get invested in the plot from the start. The cover of the book is what originally drew me in; I think that it is absolutely beautiful. This novel made for a great standalone, but I would also be curious to see more of the story in a sequel. I would definitely recommend checking out this book if you are a fan of the fantasy genre!
King Maurice and Queen Lilac are the rulers of Fleurham, a town located in southern England and within close distance of France. The two have a turbulent but passionate marriage that results in many arguments. Their lives are changed forever when an archer attempts to shoot Lilac with an arrow, only to hit the couple's young daughter Princess Isabella. Maurice goes out in search of the archer that harmed his daughter, only to get lost in the woods and find his way to a strange cottage. An old witch and her granddaughter lure the king into the house and give him enchanted tea that will make him fall in love with the granddaughter, Maggy Mae. The witch ends up dying in a freak accident that rainy night, but she succeeds in keeping the king at the cottage with her granddaughter. Daily he tries to find his way back home but to no avail. It will be ten years before he finds his home and family again, but in that time much has changed.
The Spell by C. V. Shaw is a unique and different kind of story. It has that grim fairy tale feel to it but on a more mature level. The characters were very interesting and fun to read. I especially liked Lilac and Isabella and their rocky relationship as mother and daughter. I was also surprised by some of the outcomes that occurred in the novel which kept me on my toes; something that is good to find in a book. It was quick-paced and straight to the point which captures readers' attention, making them want to read on. Overall, I think C.V. Shaw did an excellent job of telling a new type of fairy tale. I am eager to read more of her work.
It's a page turner!
During this bizarre time we are living in, I think we all need a captivating tale to take us far far away into a magical place. This book will do that for you. You won't be able to put it down. There are plot twists and unexpected turns that will keep you turning the page wondering what will happen next to these interesting characters. I highly recommend it!
Peggy Jo Wipf for Readers' Favorite
The Spell by C. V. Shaw is an enchanting novel that takes the reader back when kings ruled and magic made havoc with their destinies. King Maurice of Fleurham strains with being faithful to his wife, Queen Lilac. Her anger and nagging don’t make it any easier for him. Princess Isabella is caught between their power struggles. All comes to a head one fateful day when a mysterious archer shoots an arrow towards the queen and princess. The king enters a magical forest to rid the castle of this attacker. Meanwhile, the queen oversees the princess. Isabella lives for years under the weight of the curse placed on her that day. Will she ever find genuine happiness and love? Or will she continue to bring suffering to those around her?
I found C. V. Shaw an intriguing author who writes about mysterious spells and healing plants. The Spell beautifully combines the author’s hobbies and passion. The plot depicts a common theme, but the author weaves intricate details of the characters, landscape, and mystic that she constructs an engaging story line. The characters feature powerful personalities, allowing the reader to form their opinion of them. I like Isabella most. The trialsshe faced make the reader bond with her misfortune. Overall, it disappointed me when the book ended. I wanted to read more about Isabella and her future. Hopefully Shaw will delight us with more books of fantasy genre. The mystical cover of this book drew my attention, and I am glad to read it.
C.V. Shaw's The Spell left me wanting more. The story takes you through the years of a royal family and their struggle to correct their ill-fated future. I enjoyed all the facets of the relationships that were explored (mother-daughter, husband-wife) and also loyalty, betrayal and romance. All this was sprinkled with a little magic creating a very imaginative and yet oddly believable story (despite the fantasy aspect). Any mother will relate to the desperate actions of the Queen to help her child.
The book was a fast read and I would say leaves you craving more from each of the characters and story lines. Having said this, I will wait patiently in hopes that I will see these characters once again in a sequel or even a prequel.
Danute Jurksaitis, reader
It was amazing. An excellent read! Once you start you can’t put the book down, better make sure you have time to read it because you just think one more chapter and then it becomes two, then five and so on. The author’s imagination is brilliant and I loved the detailed descriptions which make you feel like you are there. Can’t wait for a movie and a sequel or prequel or the three of them.
I am a big fan of fantasy books and therefore I picked the book The Spell. It's an intriguing story about the King Maurice of kingdom Fleurham. There was a revolt between France and England and luckily Fleurham town survived the revolt. One day, a black crow swooped on Isabella's head and she was also darted by a cursed arrow. As the king Maurice got much angry with all this, he went towards the dark forest in search of an archer who has hit her princess daughter.
Lilac is too concerned that the cursed arrow must have cursed her daughter and her husband who has went in search of a mysterious archer must be dead now. The storyline is pretty interesting and I couldn't put this book down until I finished it. I read it on weekend and I enjoyed every bit of this story. It is very well written and narrated. Cover of the book is so decent. I liked it a lot. If you are into fantasy genre, then you couldn't miss to read this book. A promising debut novel by C.V. Shaw.
The Spell is the debut novel of the author C V. Shaw. The story is set in the lush countryside of the sixteenth century England in the town of Fleurham. This is the story about King Maurice, Queen Lilac and their daughter Isabella. A mysterious archer shot the Isabella with an arrow.
Maurice sent his men to search for the mysterious archer but they didn't found anything. Soon, the Queen noticed that her wedding ring too is missing. As Maurice himself went to search the archer on his bold horse, he also didn't return soon. As a result, Queen got concerned and she went five King's men info the dark forest. Read the further story yourself to unveil the suspense yourself.
Language of the book is easy and comfortable. Narration style of the author is remarkable and seems mature. Plot is intriguing. Characterization was stunning throughout the book even though there were so many characters. Pace of the story is fine.
I really enjoyed this fantasy story and I recommend it to my fellow readers.
Monika Singla, reader
Recently I read the book THE SPELL on my friend's recommendation and it was totally worth my time. I binge read this as I love stories about queen, king, kingdoms etc. Maurice is the king of a town Fleurham in England. When Isabella, princess of Fleurham was hit by an arrow, King Maurice went in quest of a mysterious archer but he was held captive in a cottage by some lady. Queen is worried due to the cursed arrow, her missing husband, etc. What gonna happen further in the story?
The cover of the book is attractive. The title of the story is short, sweet and apt. It is related to the content of the story. World building is amazing and I felt like I am watching everything happening in front of me. Characters are well penned down by CV Shaw. Narration is smooth and clear with a lucid language.
It is the captivating story involving magic.
You had me at magic! Could not put the book down. What a great story to really take your mind away. Highly recommend!