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Spell Bound

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Two rival apprentice sorcerers must team up to save their teachers and protect their own magic in this lively young adult romantic adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of In Deeper Waters and So This Is Ever After.

Edison Rooker isn’t sure what to expect when he enters the office of Antonia Hex, the powerful sorceress who runs a call center for magical emergencies. He doesn’t have much experience with hexes or curses. Heck, he doesn’t even have magic. But he does have a plan—to regain the access to the magical world he lost when his grandmother passed.

Antonia is…intimidating, but she gives him a job and a new name—Rook—both of which he’s happy to accept. Now all Rook has to do is keep his Spell Binder, an illegal magical detection device, hidden from the Magical Consortium. And contend with Sun, the grumpy and annoyingly cute apprentice to Antonia’s rival colleague, Fable. But dealing with competition isn’t so bad; as Sun seems to pop up more and more, and Rook minds less and less.

But when the Consortium gets wind of Rook’s Spell Binder, they come for Antonia. All alone, Rook runs to the only other magical person he knows: Sun. Except Fable has also been attacked, and now Rook and Sun have no choice but to work together to get their mentors back…or face losing their magic forever.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published April 4, 2023

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About the author

F.T. Lukens

10 books2,190 followers
F.T. Lukens is a New York Times bestselling author of YA speculative fiction including the novels So This Is Ever After, In Deeper Waters, and the forthcoming Spell Bound as well as other science-fiction and fantasy works. Their contemporary fantasy novel The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Gold Winner for YA fiction and won the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. F.T. resides in North Carolina with their spouse, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,055 reviews
Profile Image for Noah.
214 reviews82 followers
August 28, 2023
Hey! Third times the charm, yeah? I’ll admit to not being a huge fan of the previous two books by this author, but something really clicked for me this time around. I think it’s a combination of the wonderful characters and the (thankfully) consistent tone. That’s not to say this was perfect, of course (what book is), and I had a couple of problems with the pacing. Um, mostly in that it was kind of all over the place. For most the book we get Ghostbusters in how it contrasts the outlandish with the mundane, then it turns into a coming-of-age, “youth-against-the-adults” type of story similar to The Outsiders, and then the third act pivots into a court room drama! Odd choice in my opinion. It sucks because I was a big fan of the first 80% and just okay with the last bit. Better Call Saul, this was not. Oh yeah, also if it were up to me, the ending would have gone down a bit differently, I’ll tell you that much. I’m just saying, if you make a story about rebels and fighting the system… then I’d better see some actual rebellion. None of this, “appeal-to-the-better-nature-of-the-oppressors” bullshit. Yeah right. Hmm. I guess I’m not being entirely fair and maybe I should temper my expectations for Young-Adult fiction. Otherwise, I still think this is a fantastic book and I loved how casually its LGBT+ characters are represented. For every harrowing tale of endurance and triumph, we need a couple of these more lighthearted kinds of stories sprinkled into the mix every now and then. This book isn’t that far from the world we live in, but it’s one I definitely wouldn’t mind living in. And while I don’t think it went quite far enough for a book that’s supposed to be dedicated to rule-breakers, I still think that as a cute romance and fun adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously; this book was absolutely magical. Also, I love the cover. Great cover!

“Okay,” I said. I swallowed. “I can be an act of defiance.”
Profile Image for Charlie.
85 reviews417 followers
May 3, 2023
I loved So This Is Ever After… but this. THIS. Spellbound was everything.

The world-building was incredible and I was so intrigued by the magic system. The way sorcerers draw magic from lay lines was really interesting and I could see vivid spells being cast in my mind. I enjoyed how different sorcerers like Antonia and Sun had distinct abilities that made their magic special.

The evil queen? Maleficent? Regina George? Those ladies have nothing on Antonia Hex. She’ll destroy you with a glance. Antonia was a villain and a hero all rolled into one. If you enjoy shady characters whose motives you are constantly questioning, you will adore Antonia!

Rook and Sun were another adorable grumpy x sunshine moment I devoured. Their romance had a wonderful trajectory. It was strangers to who the hell are you to I kinda want to be your friend to wait I’m obsessed with you. I loved that Sun’s magical ability tied into their relationship with Rook. Sun spoke up for Rook and saw what nobody else could. They were so sweet.

There was a lot to love about this book. The plot was dramatic and the characters were fabulous. The world was queer normative and one of the main characters was non-binary. This book was all about loneliness and finding a home. Rook found a place with Antonia, Sun and Fable. There was a lovely sense of found family in this story, and I’d love to revisit this world in the future!

I post about queer books on: Instagram Twitter TikTok
Profile Image for Stacy.
228 reviews78 followers
April 4, 2023
You guys. Did you see the cover??? I'm obsessed with it. Seriously, take another look. It's gorgeous. The cover alone made me want to read this book and it did not disappoint. This book was so good! It's my first time reading this author and will not be my last.

“You know,” he said slyly, “we have a lot in common.” I balked. “We do not.” He shrugged. “Okay, not a lot in common. I’m tall, and you’re short. I’m extroverted. You’re clearly introverted. I’m talkative, while you prefer to communicate via glower. I’m congenial, and you’re a grouch.”

The inner dialogue and banter in this book is top notch. I could read the back and forth between Rook and Sun all day long. Even Rook and Antonia.

“Oh, wow,” Rook said, pushing a hand to his chest. “Wow. You’re laughing. You laugh. You know how to laugh. Did I break you, Sun? Are you broken?”

The magical world that F.T. Lukens has created here is super interesting. There is a rich history that is filled with scandalous moments. We slowly learn about them along the way. Antonia is one of the strongest witches around. She is not to be messed with and she knows it. But this has to balanced out with the magical policing done by The Consortium.

This book is about Rook wanting to learn about magic, even though he doesn't have any. He is extremely smart and creates an interactive app to help him find the magical lines that power witches magic. He calls it the Spell Binder. Rook goes to Antonia's place of business to try to get a job working with her.

Sun is an apprentice for Fable and they occasionally work together with Antonia on more difficult magical jobs. I want to point out that both Sun and Fable are nonbinary and I loved seeing that representation here.

A wink? A wink! The audacity. My stomach twisted, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the blatant taunt or the dimple. There was no way I was going to let him figure this one out before me. Fable’s hand was heavy on my shoulder, and they squeezed. “Don’t let him upset you,” they said. “It’s not a competition.” But it was. It was definitely a competition. That wink . . . That wink made it one.

Rook and Sun have this initial interest in one another. They are both intrigued by the other. Sun may be a bit more frustrated with Rook at first, but they come around. There is a slight flirtation going on after a bit. Sun even goes out of their way to help Rook in trying to figure out magic.

This Sun wore black leather gloves and tattered blue jeans with rips in the thighs and knees, and okay, what was going on? This Sun made my pulse race and my stomach swoop, and I was just not prepared for this Sun.

As the story progresses, we learn that The Consortium has it out for Antonia a little bit. Fable and Sun inadvertently get caught up in this and things get messy. Sun and Rook go on the run to try to figure out what is going on. Along the way, they become even closer to one another.

“I like you. I’ve liked you since the doll incident. And it’s only gotten worse, to be honest.” “Oh,” Sun breathed. “You like me? Since the doll incident?” “You were cute.” “I was grumpy and sweaty.” “What can I say? I have a thing for introverts with brusque attitudes.”

Rook and Sun have quite the adventure together and come to really appreciate and understand one another. It was very touching. We also learn more about Rook's family along the way.

I was hit with the realization that under Rook’s smiley exterior was someone who was hurt and lonely and, despite all that, was still able to be thoughtful toward others.

This book is about found family, first crushes, first loves and discovering yourself. And if that's not enough, it includes magic! I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.

I was just caught making out with the hottest person I know, so, if anything, I’m feeling pretty good right now.” Sun snorted. “Regret,” they said. “So much regret.” “You like it.” Sun lifted their head and smiled. “Ugh. I do. It’s maddening.”

I would love a sequel to this! I feel like there is so much more to explore in this world.

“I like you,” Rook said. “So much.” “Even if I’m grumpy and antisocial.” Rook laughed. “Yeah. It’s kind of my favorite thing about you.”

You can also find me on Instagram.

*** I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and this is my honest opinion. ***
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
510 reviews338 followers
April 4, 2023
Magical/dystopian books are not my favorite or usual genre, but sometimes the world-building is so natural that I forget that I’m reading such a story. Spell Bound belongs to this category, and F.T. Lukens has become an auto-read author for me.

Even though this fantastic cover fits the covers of In Deeper Waters and This is Ever After so well, the story is way different. F.T. Lukens goes back to the world-building of one of their older books, Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic, and Spell Bound is perfectly comparable to that one. So, no princes and castles, but the present world full of spells and curses.

I fell in love with this magical story from the first page. F.T. Lukens humor is so witty. To name a bubbly and open boy Rook, after a European crow, and an always wearing black, grumpy, and antisocial teen Sun. It’s simply brilliant. The frenemies-to-lovers trope is one of my favorite, and Rook and Sun were fantastic and cute frenemies! The corners of my mouth turned up every time they interacted with each other, and the smile on my face only grew bigger and bigger when they became friends and realized they had feelings for each other.

There’s so much more to love in this book. The rep was excellent and it’s found family trope all over. And the discussion about keeping people out of the community and gatekeepers was so good. That there’s no right way to be magic, just like there’s no right way to be neurodivergent or queer.

I believe that Spell Bound is F.T. Lukens's best novel so far. So put it on your TBR and get a copy as soon as it’s out!

I received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Lance.
543 reviews157 followers
July 2, 2023
3.5 stars rounded up. A whimsical and frothy contemporary fantasy that’s all heart, Spell Bound is another warm if slightly underdeveloped magical story from F.T. Lukens.
Profile Image for Maartje.
75 reviews
July 14, 2023
❤️ Spell Bound - F.T. Lukens ❤️

❤️‍🔥 enemies to lovers
✨️ sorcery
💫 self discovery
⚖️ magical laws
💕 found family
Profile Image for Ben Howard.
1,024 reviews118 followers
June 30, 2023
F.T. Lukens' covers are insanely gorgeous. I can't choose a favourite, but Spell Bound is a strong contender.

Content wise, Spell Bound is another winner. An urban fantasy set in a world like our own, except magic is known and commonplace.

Rook has been told he doesn't have magic for all his life. He's determined to make a place for himself in the magical world anyways. He manages to get a job for an infamous and powerful sorceress, Antonia Hex.

Sun is apprentice to Fable. Antonia and Fable are frenemies of a sort and end up working on the same magical cases a lot. So Rook's and Sun's path's cross often. Rook doesn't start off on the best with them, but when their bosses are in danger they team up to help.

The plot was interesting and fun. But the high point is definitely Rook and Sun. Their relationship has such a perfect arc. From the bumbling first meet to bickering work colleagues to a sweet friendship and eventually to a cute romance.
Profile Image for Ashley.
830 reviews484 followers
April 7, 2023
Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars

Another magical, adventurous & delightful read from F.T. Lukens!

One thing I love so very much about F.T. Lukens is that there’s always a promised HEA. Their novels are always lovely, chaotic (in the best way), & entertaining. I love that I always know I what I am getting into— A WONDERFUL TIME !

I have to say, this may have been my favorite so far ! The character development was fantastic & the MCs were on a long trail of disaster after disaster with even more magical mishaps at every turn…

“…that was as close as they were able to get because I took off running. They weren’t going to catch me. I was the motherfucking Gingerbread Man.”
[Quotes may not be in the published version of this novel, they were copied from the advanced reader’s edition.]

This book was an absolute joy to read and the relationship between our two MCs Rook & Sun was *insert heart eyes emoji here* and queer! (wooo we love the LGBTQIA+ rep! Not to mention Sun is non-binary, and on the neurodiversity spectrum as well, as you will be sure to notice in the book though I don’t recall it ever being mentioned, besides Rook respecting it! Anyway we love all of that beautiful rep!), and charming AF! The relationship between the two “rivals,” as they are each apprentices of a sort to rival witches— Antonia, and Fable (who is also non-binary— thank you for all the NB rep, Lukens ☺️). The rivalry between Antonia (a city sorcerer) & Fable (a cottage sorcerer), I honestly think, was rather entertaining, and obviously a problem to overcome for Rook &

“I ignored them. It wasn’t mature in the slightest, but I didn’t know what to say. I’d chosen magic. I’d always choose magic. That wasn’t the question. But it had been nice to have a friend. To have someone who liked me in return. Someone who, despite my prickliness and social ineptitude, had kept trying. Most people gave up. Even my sisters didn’t fully understand.”
[Quotes may not be in the published version of this novel, they were copied from the advanced reader’s edition.]

I also just have to say that when applied to real life, that particular quote speaks volumes to me, and truly means the WORLD, as someone who has AuADHD, anxiety, & bipolar II (depressive bipolar)… which getting a little personal:

Magical hijinks ensue (which should be a TM for Lukens 😉), charm, wit, and humor are found at every turn, and Sun is erm, turned into a CAT for a portion of the book, which is the best thing ever oml !

“I sighed, tipping my head back. “I regret everything.”
“Life choices, friend. Come on, like you said, it’s big, and we won’t even have to touch in the night. Unless your inner feline decides it wants to cuddle again.”
“So much regret.”

[Quotes may not be in the published version of this novel, they were copied from the advanced reader’s edition.]

I admire Rook SOMUCH because after having magic ripped away from him, after being surrounded by it his whole life, when his grandmother died, he was left with well, nothing magical. He made his way & is a genius, especially with electronics and technology, and makes a FANTASTIC, erm, very much magically illegal device that maps ley lines & senses magic, called the Spell Binder! He worked SO hard on it, and for someone with no magic, you have to admit that is incredibly impressive.

I also loved, so much, that none of the rep was ever really mentioned by name, either, the author shows, rather than tells, with ease & grace.

This was just such a joy to read and the road, the whole way through seems to be filled with obstacles for each MC alone, the MCs together, and the side characters to not only endure, but overcome! And that they do!

It was a truly marvelous magical comedic romp of a romantasy!

I enjoyed this from start to finish, and I recommend 100%! Another great one by F.T. Lukens!

A HUGE thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing via Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Megan Rose.
206 reviews27 followers
March 26, 2023
Everyone needs to excuse me while I go make Spell Bound my new personality. Seriously, though, I absolutely loved this book. After having loved So This Is Ever After, I was excited to dive into FT Lukens’s newest book, but little did I know that I was about to find a new favorite. From page one, I was completely hooked on Rook and Sun’s story. I had a migraine when I was reading this, and usually that means I’m much slower, but I devoured this book regardless. It was that good.

The mix of technology and magic in Spell Bound was such a neat concept that was executed really well. Since Rook is non-magical, the only way he can stay in the magical world is if he creates a device that can help him detect magical energies and store spells. I don’t know why, but I got really attached to this device? Like, I know that sounds really weird, but Rook put his heart and soul into creating it, and it meant so much to him, and by proxy, it meant a lot to me too. I was so impressed with the way Rook was able to stay connected to the magical world, despite every obstacle keeping him away.

Additionally, the magic system itself was so much fun! It was based around curses, hexes, and jinxes, which led to some hilarious circumstances. At surface level, the magic system seemed pretty simple, but there were actually a lot of intricate rules and detailed lore that went along with it, which really enhanced it. I loved the contrast between Sun’s powers and Rook’s lack of them. They both complimented each other so well. One’s weaknesses was another’s strengths. Together, they made such a great team.

Speaking of Sun and Rook, the characterizations in Spell Bound were excellent! The characters we spend the most time with are the two of them, as well as their mentors Antonia and Fable. All four are incredibly well rounded individuals with such distinct personalities and the best dynamic. Even so, none of the side characters suffered from this. They were still developed and memorable, even the ones who only appeared for a few scenes.

Sun and Rook had to be my favorites, though, and between the two of them, I can’t help but love Sun just a smidge more (though that’s not to say that I didn’t love Rook because I absolutely did). I related to Sun so much, and their personality was the best. At first glance, they’re quite prickly and want to keep to themselves. They wear all black and rarely ever smile. Even so, Sun is a soft-hearted individual who cares deeply for others. Sun is also clearly neurodivergent in some way, and as someone who related to them a lot, I saw a lot of autistic traits in them, which I thought was great. Watching them grow throughout the book and learning to open themself up to others was wonderful.

I also loved how Rook was so conscientious of Sun’s boundaries and never crossed them without explicit permission from Sun. This was something Sun hadn’t experienced much of before, but something they desperately needed. Sun and Rook gave me all the grumpy/sunshine vibes that I love so much. Watching them grow from slight hostility, to frenemies, to friends, to even more, was such a fantastic journey and one that was developed so well. Also!! There’s something that happens later in the book (I won’t say what because of spoilers), but it had me simultaneously dying of laughter and cuteness at the same time. I was living for it.

I honestly don’t have a single negative thing to say about Spell Bound. I loved every part of it. I loved the plot, the pacing, the writing style, the characters, the relationships and dynamics. Just. Everything. I can say without a doubt that this is my favorite book of the year so far, and I won’t be even remotely surprised if it stays in the top five or ten by the time the year ends.

I can’t recommend Spell Bound enough! If you love queer fantasy stories with fun magic systems, you absolutely have to read it.

Thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Kalob Dàniel.
Author 8 books149 followers
January 21, 2023

Spellbound is a much different book from F.T. Lukens’ other previous young adult work. So do not go into this book with any expectations other than to completely be captivated by the story and the world building and magic and the character development and the adventure.

I absolutely loved both of the MCs!! Rook is the biggest sunshine, optimistic, endearing, hilarious cinnamon roll. You can’t help but fall in love with him right away. Sun on the other hand took some time, with their grumpy, antisocial, only wears black, moody mess. But you slowly learn why they are the way they are and it just makes your heart swell. And then Rook and Sun together?! UGH!! I love them and I love them together.

The adventure, the plot, the drama and suspense of this book was truly top tier! This world Lukens created is what’s so different from their other books. It’s more modern and progressive in structure, but definitely not in the way the magic system is governed. Magic is oppressed, but que Antonia and eventually Rook who’s trying to challenge the backwards ways of Spire City. The way everything played out was so fun and eventful. I have THE best time. Antonia is so badass! And I’m so happy with how things played out. Yes yes yes!

Lukens has truly spun a fantastic tail to behold. I was weary because it felt like a departure from their other books but truly, it was an open door into a new world. I highly, highly recommend preordering this fantastic, magical adventure.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,339 reviews352 followers
April 20, 2023
I enjoyed reading and listening to an audiobook for this young adult queer fantasy a lot. I liked the humor. The magic story was good. Rules breakers vs rules followers. Opposites attracts. A bit of forbidden love and forbidden use of magic. The narrator did a great job. I laughed more with the second character because of his dark clothes aesthetic and his miserable feelings in the summer heat.

This story followed Rook. He's been missing his grandma. His grandma can do magic. Rook can't. Rook just graduated and attempting to obtain a job with a powerful sorcerer in town. He showed up and won his way into a job by his skills at fixing technology devices. Rook invented a device that can show him where magic exists. It's against the law. Luckily his boss doesn't care for law too much and took him on as an apprentice. Their rival is the dual guys team and they're a rule follower. They got called to solve some magical problems together but often had disagreements. Those times when they ran into each other, the adults argued while the teens grow to like each other from becoming friends enemies to friends to more than. When Rook's magic device was found out, all 4 of their lives were in danger. The adults were captured and the teens were on a run, with one teen being in an unexpected circumstances. They came up with a to do list and solve one problem at a time together.

Thank you SimonAudio and SimonTeen for the opportunity to read, listen, and review!
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,470 reviews355 followers
September 1, 2023
This was super wholesome, I loved the Queer representation, the unique magic system, the cursed angry doormat and the found family. I do also wonder if writing a wizard(ish) book and repeatedly naming the villain as Evanna Lynne is a little bit on the nose, but also that's hilarious. And her surname? Beech.

Rook is sheer chaos, always seeming to be juggling everyone else's problems all at once, whereas Sun brings a calmer energy that perfectly balances him out. I thought the equally chaotic, destroyer of fax and coffee machines, Antonia Hex, was such a fascinating character, and this mentor role so often goes to men so this was really cool to see.

This had a bit of a vibe of a 90s TV show, the campy scenarios, the Big Bad at the end, and the plot was so much fun overall while keeping a good pace. This is a really different book than So This Is Ever After, and I think it's a much stronger story.
Profile Image for Nofreeusernames Nofreeusernames.
Author 6 books1,442 followers
July 29, 2023
Feel good fantasy je něco, co jsem ve svém životě fakt potřebovala a nevěděla o tom. Až Šťastně až navěky mi ukázalo, že tenhle žánr musím přidat do své poličky a F.T. Lukens tak na ní získali čestné místo. Stála jsem tedy před volbou, jestli se dřív pustit do jejich starší knihy In Deeper Waters, která je plná pirátů a moře, nebo do Spell Bound, což je urban fantasy odehrávající se v našem světe, jen plném magie. Přečetla jsem prvních pár kapitol obou a Spell Bound vyhrálo na plné čáře (a hlavně taky úspěšně dosprintovalo do konce).

Rook touží po tom stát se čarodějnickým učněm, jen jaksi neovládá magii (v tomhle světě se kouzlí tak, že se odebírá síla s magických vláken, která jsou různě mocná a proplétají se celým světem, někde je jich víc, jinde chybí, a tak je tam moc čaroděje slabší). Zato je ale zatraceně dobrý v oblasti technologií, a tajně vynalezl přístroj na odhalování magických vláken, které jako „mudla“ sám nevidí. A tak se mu podaří nastoupit do služeb proslulé čarodějky Antonie Hex a přes ni se seznámit se Sun, kteří slouží u Fable, Antoniiny nemesis.

Vztah Rooka a Sun je super, je to taková ta první láska, je to cute, začíná to jako od nepřátelství k lásce, ale miloučké. Ti dva skvěle fungují jako naprosté protiklady. Rook je pozitivní, ukecaný kluk, zato Sun jsou dost grumpy a moc nemusí lidi. Absolutní top byla Antonia, taková čarodějka potížistka, ale děsně mocná a navíc dost fancy ženská, jakákoliv scéna s ní byla mega vtipná a až vyrostu, chci být jako ona. Nestojí to ale jen na postavách, na plné čáře vyhrává svět a jak v něm funguje magie. Všechno hlídá magické konsorcium, čarodějové komunikují skrze zrcadla, řada z nich (včetně Antonie a Fable) se živí lámáním kleteb a jiným napravováním magických patálií… Tohle mělo parádní atmosféru, moc mě to bavilo, a to o tom ani nemůžu říct, že by to bylo kdovíjak propracované a komplikované. Prostě v jednoduchosti je krása.
Profile Image for ash.
187 reviews6 followers
April 6, 2023
thank you to margeret k mcelderry books, simon and schuster children’s publishing, and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

“you” i said.
“me” they said.

Y’ALL this book. this mother f-ing book. it was exactly what i needed right now. after a few recent flops, i needed something quick, something fun, something that would tug at the heartstrings. and this did all that and more.

now it’s no secret that i’ve adored f.t. lukens’ two predecessors to spell bound. and of course, when you have an author that is quickly and easily becoming an all time favorite, you always worry that their next release will live up to hype. all that worry was truly for nothing. something, some specific way f.t. lukens has with their books, it just grabs me by the collar and immerses me deeply into their worlds. from the first page, i was hooked. rook’s opening interactions with antonia, it felt so real to me, so raw, and it only got better from there.

we followed rook through their beginning stages working their way (back) into the magical world. trying to prove himself, doing whatever it took. we saw him bond with sun (sun, my sweet summer child we’ll get back to you soon, i promise). we saw him grow his skills as an “office staff”. we saw this little found family fight for each other and for what’s right. i cannot say how much i loved being mostly in rook’s footsteps. seeing his determination first hand. the sunshine to sun’s grump. i just, i have no words for how truly deeply i felt for rook.

on to sun, the grump with a heart full of love, buried deep down. sun, my short enby royalty who wears all black and hates to be touched by others without specific consent and only by certain people. are you me?? like truly, i cannot believe how much i saw them and was like, holy shit, that’s me. am i bit more outgoing, maybe? but only as a survival mechanism (haha kidding… sort of). i just, i love sun so deeply. they see things no others can, literally and figuratively, and they deserve all the love from those around them.

i loved this queernormative, urban fantastical world. i loved these characters and how they interacted. their humor. and i especially loved rook and sun, they own a special little place in my heart, tucked neatly alongside f.t. lukens’ other pairings. and i wish i had more of this world. more of this little group, doing the mundane magical things.

i didn’t know much about what this book was about going into it, just that there was magic. and beyond that i didn’t need to. i trust this author with my time. i know that i can open a door into their worlds and get lost in it. and with spell bound, i can easily push f.t. lukens into an all time favorite authors list. i wholeheartedly (and very impatiently) cannot wait to see what’s next. next for their books and for them.
Profile Image for Cyndi.
600 reviews29 followers
April 12, 2023
I somehow forgot how much fun it is to read YA fantasy. This book was so good! And that cover...the ache in my hands was a small price to pay to own this beauty in hardback. I loved being in Spire City, where magical and non-magical people were fairly integrated in society and magic was a marketable commodity. It was such an interesting diversion from the usual dynamic I've seen in other books, where magic was typically hidden from the rest of the world. In this book it was monetized, which meant it was also regulated by a governing force known as the Magical Consortium. What would be the magical equivalent of Uncle Sam? Uncle Merlin? (Oh god, was that a mom joke? I apologize.)

This book was so funny and overflowing with warmth, especially when it came to the friendship between Rook and Sun. They both wanted to fit in, but in such different ways. Rook didn't have access to magic and had been booted from the community when his magical grandmother passed away. Sun had been a magical apprentice for years, but kept people at arms length after they were teased for being different. I loved seeing prickly Sun begin to reluctantly soften towards Rook. And every time Rook looked at Sun and thought about how cute they were, I melted. Rook was so respectful of Sun's boundaries. It was almost painful how much that level of acknowledgement and care surprised Sun. And in Sun, Rook found a friend who accepted him with or without magic. It was so precious and sweet! I just couldn't with all of their banter and blushing and accidental cuddles!

The story itself was quite the ride. Antonia was my kind of character, with a brash demeanor that she could afford to have because her abilities terrified people. I wasn't sure I could trust her, but I wanted to because she was such a badass. And I loved her rival relationship with Fable, especially when they crossed paths in the field and their competitive natures came out to play. But even though they acted more immature than Rook and Sun at times, I appreciated the way both Sun and Rook realized how much they needed them, especially when they were scared and overwhelmed. So many YA fantasies show teenagers as heroes without much adult intervention. As a parent reading something written for younger people, I loved this reminder that it's okay to admit that you need a trusting adult when you're not sure what to do next. This was such a lovely message.

The end gave me all of the found family feels I could handle and the bonus content had me up laughing way past my bedtime. I could not get the smile off my face. There is so much possibility within a world like the one created in this book. If the author decides to add to it in the future, I'll be ready and waiting with my grabby hands engaged.
Profile Image for Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight).
904 reviews127 followers
April 4, 2023
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

This was so fun, and the romance was so cute!

The characters were so lovable easy to root for. Friendly, sunshine-y, extroverted Rook. Prickly, slightly grumpy, introverted Sun. Both struggling with feeling like outsiders for different reasons, but both goodhearted. Both the kind of character you just want to hug, although Sun doesn't like being touched by most people, so I'll let Rook hug them for me.

There was a cute frenemies-to-lovers romance. They were never truly enemies, just apprentices of rival sorcerers (who weren't truly enemies either). And Sun was closed-off with everyone, despite wanting to be helpful, that was just their default setting. But that wasn't going to stop Rook! There was friendly, playful teasing. There was genuine empathy and understanding. There were sweet, helpful gestures. All with the occasional (increasingly more affectionate) grumbling from Sun. It was a lovely progression of feelings that felt very sweet, made all the sweeter by how lonely they'd both been before.

The magic was a lot of fun! Hexes, curses, and other spells, more on the silly side, rather than heavy. Very mild spoiler, *SPOILER* *END SPOILER*

There was casual queer rep. Sun is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. Their mentor does as well.

The story wasn't action-packed, but it wasn't slow either. It was focused on the characters learning about magic, growing as people, getting to know each other, and figuring things out, with a bit of tension and action sometimes popping up here and there. All of it kept my attention.

Last but not least, there was a lovely message about found family and finding people who love you for who you are.

Now for the aesthetics. Not only is the cover gorgeous, the dust jacket on the hardcover is SO SHINY! It reflects the light in such a cool way. It has a really cute back cover too. The hardcover itself is dark blue with pink font on the spine. (Pictures below. I had to use my phone, which isn't the best, but hopefully you can still see how pretty the book is!)

Overall, this was a great story with lovable characters, fun magic, cute romance, and a lovely message about finding your place in the world!

*4 Stars // Read Date: 2023 // Format: Hardcover*

Spell Bound by FT Lukens hardcover front. Art is Rook in a denim jacket and pink jeans holding a flashlight, walking behind Sun in a pink jacket and a snapback over messy hair with electric-looking magic in their hands. Behind them is a haunted house with glowing pink windows and dark green smokelike atmospheric coloring all around. The title is in pink letters.

Spell Bound by FT Lukens hardcover front. It's tilted back so the light hits the cover, making part of Rook and Sun's clothes and hair and hat and the magic look almost white with shine. The green and pink in the background looks brighter and shinier too.

Spell Bound by FT Lukens hardcover back. Art is the back of the haunted house with some bushes and tree branches and a pinkish cat leaping over the bottom right corner.

Spell Bound by FT Lukens spine with no dust jacket. It's dark blue with the title, author, and publisher in pink lettering.

Recommended For:
Anyone who likes magic, YA, casual queer rep, cute romance, frenemies to lovers, extroverts and introverts working together, and found family.

Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight
Profile Image for Nico.
96 reviews3 followers
January 10, 2023
I received an arc from netgalley for this review -

I will always slam a request/read button for F.T. Lukens, no doubt about it. It's well written in typical F.T. Lukens fashion, and the bond between the characters was fun. It's the epitome of the happy person likes grumpy person trope, but tropes are tropes for a reason and I'm always here for them when done well.

The world building was fun, though as another review stated I did feel it was slightly too similar to the rules and regulations for mediating myths & magic, but I loved those books so it didn't totally bother me.

My biggest complaint is that I wished we spent more time with Sun. They're amazing, and I would have loved a little bit of a deeper dive into them than what the book gave us.

Overall, a solid read and another great entry into the F.T. Lukens catalogue. I didn't love it quite as much as their other works, but it was still great and a fun use of my time.

Also, that cover tho.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,514 reviews254 followers
June 2, 2023
What wonderful chaotic queer disasters. This is a rivals to frenemies to friends to lovers story about two magical apprentices who are apprentices to rivals in the magical community. I know that that sounds confusing but I promise that it's not. This book is funny and at the same time packs an emotional punch. The cat scenes were some of my favorite IYKYK 😹

I loved how these two learn to work together and also to rely on each other well also fighting a corrupt and outdated system. We live for that energy.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 4 books164 followers
March 26, 2023
If you're in Rhode Island, I will be introducing F.T. Lukens at their event on April 2nd at Barnes and Noble in Warwick!

This was such a fun book! I would even go so far as to categorize it as cozy urban fantasy, because while the stakes were high, this wasn't an action-packed story. It was an adorable frenemies to lovers, grumpy/sunshine, queer romance jammed with satire and themes of found family and belonging.

"There's not a right way to be magic, is there? Why are we keeping people out of the community who want to be there? He's one of us."

With major Owl House vibes, Rook is a non-magical person looking to get involved in magic, and Antonia Hex is an outcast sorcerer who likes to break the Consortium rules. She takes Rook on as an apprentice, and then he meets Sun, the non-binary apprentice of sorcerer Fable. Rook's eternal optimism is no match for Sun's more pragmatic, black-wearing sensibilities and the two eventually become friends (and maybe more?)

If you're a fan of Owl House or satirical, humorous fantasy, cozy fantasy or just plain good stories, you need to pick this up when it comes out on April 4th!
Profile Image for Dani.
1,151 reviews103 followers
April 15, 2023
This was a hard audiobook to listen to. Sun is one of the mains and prefers they/them pronouns. I started out listening to this book and had to switch to the ebook copy where it would never have been an issue at all. "Come along, Sun" and other variations said by their mentor always sounded like masculine pronouns and I was like, no, that's not right. Every single time.

That aside, these characters felt younger than the other FT Lukens books I've read which may be untrue but they felt younger maturity wise as well. I was certain that Rook's grandmother bound his magical abilities (based on the title of the book) when Sun mentioned that they could see the magic lines flowing through him. That ended up being a red herring and a missed opportunity.

I didn't feel much chemistry between Rook and Sun but we were nudged at it by all of the other adults in the book and I just didn't see it. I desperately wanted to. Sun was shy and standoffish and Rook was like this one is mine based on literally nothing. They were ghosting Rook when the bulk of the drama unfolded and only broke that based on necessity.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Audio for a copy of the audiobook and Netgalley for a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Sheena.
614 reviews277 followers
April 14, 2023
I loved So This is Ever After but this one missed it for me. I was hoping for something similar. I found is boring and slow instead. I don’t think this was bad but it just didn’t grab my attention or give me anything. I zoned out quite a bit too and didn't really feel anything for the characters or plot.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book!
Profile Image for Mei ☽︎.
196 reviews24 followers
June 13, 2023
This is my second read from FT Lukens, and I LOVED this one. Spell Bound was such a fun YA read! I really loved the shenanigans that we get to see early on in the book between the two pairs of masters and apprentices, and how they differed in their approach. While the blurb does end up revealing something that happens at about the post-50% mark, I did feel like the buildup made it kind of obvious that it was going to happen, so it worked out fine.

I absolutely loved all of the characters here, but especially the side character Antonia Hex. She was freaking hilarious and great, and it was interesting to learn more about her, the background, and also the magical world and the Consortium politics/rules of the community, and how there were some things that were fair, and others that were unfair. I really felt like FT Lukens included some great themes about bureaucracy and otherness was explored well!

The camraderie that builds up between Sun and Rook felt both a bit natural and while at times a little forced in the beginning, but I think they definitely had good rivals/"frenemies" vibes as they aptly discuss in the book. It was fun to see them find common ground and learn about each other too over the course of the book. Rook coming from a non-magical background but so desperately wanting to feel like he belonged. Sun being a bit of a natural, having their background and family being completely surrounded by magic all their life. The two balanced each other out really well, and the final third was SO MUCH FUN. Major spoilers: There were very sweet moments between the two and I absolutely loved how they really saw each other by the end.

I loved the pacing of this book and the tone. Just an overall fun ride that I almost wish wasn't standalone! The found family vibes was a nice addition too!! I'm excited to read more of Lukens' backlog and also read future books! 😊

🥈Silver 🥈
Disclaimer: I won a review copy of the book in a giveway hosted on Goodreads, but am voluntarily and happily giving my honest review. Many many thanks to Simon Teen and the author for the opportunity!
Profile Image for miracle.
207 reviews17 followers
September 3, 2022
Lukens is three for three for me. I love the worlds they create, and Spell Bound is no exception.

Rook and Sun were absolutely adorable and I love a good grumpy/sunshine moment. I really enjoyed that the majority of the book was about them getting to know one another and tentatively becoming friends rather than jumping right in and forcing something where it wouldn't have worked.

The magic aspect was also super fun, and Rook was coming into their own and finding their place was such a fun journey. I love the humor and the heart that Lukens puts into their writing. This one is tons of fun!
Profile Image for —lex♡.
53 reviews17 followers
August 10, 2023
Me gusta mucho Lukens, pero su último libro que leí, This is ever after, me había dejado un muy mal sabor de boca, razón por la que pospuse sus últimos dos lanzamientos. Sin embargo, después de un par de lecturas que, a mi parecer, fueron bastante malas, decidí irme por un autor con el que ya tenía experiencia y me gustaba. Gracias a todos los dioses esta vez no me he decepcionado.
Para resumir la historia en una palabra: lindo.
Cuenta la historia de Rook, un chico sin magia que quiere, a pesar de todos los obstáculos, ser parte de la comunidad mágica, por lo que acude a la hechicera más poderosa que conoce el mundo para que lo acepte como su aprendiz. Ella lo acepta como su recepcionista, porque el gobierno mágico prohibe que cualquiera sin magia se relacione de forma cercana con la magia, pero Antonia es una rebelde y Rook está dispuesto a escalar desde lo bajo (y también tiene un desdén por las reglas impresionante). Un día, mientras Antonia está en una misión de campo, una persona entra en la tienda y, de repente, Rook se encuentra volando por las nubes gracias a conocer a la persona más hermosa que ha visto en su vida, que resulta ser el aprendiz del rival (¿eneamigo?) de Antonia.
Así que ahí están nuestras dos tramas principales.
1. Rook intentando entrar en el mundo mágico que lo prohibe.
2 La relación entre Rook y Sun.
Rook es de los personajes que me fascinan. Tipo Sam de Tales from Verania. Un personaje complejo, que esconde sus debilidades y sentimientos detrás de una sonrisa perpetua, y con comentarios tan ridículos que es imposible no preguntarse cómo son parte de una trama con un trasfondo tan serio.

“Hello. Thank you for calling Hex-A-Gone. This is Rook. How can I help you today?”
A colorful expletive accompanied by shouting, then another expletive. A hair-raising screech followed by another more creative expletive. Then the problem erupted from the caller in a scream. “My daughter has a pig nose!”
Swiveling in my chair, I scooted closer to my desk and logged into my computer. “Has your daughter always had a pig nose, ma’am?”

Sun, por otro lado, es una masita introvertida con comentarios sarcásticos, que no sabe cómo expresar del todo bien sus emociones, pero que termina siendo una lindura. Sin duda, mi personaje favorito de toda la historia.
Ambos tienen un meet cute. Sun entra al negocio de Antonia, llevando una caja llena de artículos malditos y se tropieza en la entrada con el tapete maldito, que siempre hace caer a las personas. Así que está súper apenado, porque acaba de ridiculizarse a sí mismo frente a Rook, pero también súper conmocionado, porque al caerse dejó caer la caja y una muñeca maldita con un cuchillo (un abrecartas) en la mano está buscando la forma de escapar. Y trabajan juntos para volver a meterla en la caja mientras se envían sonrisas de amor a primera vista. Sí, muy lindo.
Aunque, dado que sus maestros son rivales... ya pueden imaginar que el camino a darse mimos no es tan fácil...
De todas formas, son un gran apoyo constante el uno para el otro.
-Rook le ayuda a Sun con matemáticas.
-Rook no se burla de Sun y lo apoya con su claustrofobia.
-Rook lo ayuda a Sun a lidiar con otras personas (que resultan ser hermanas de Sun, pero la intención es lo que cuenta)
-Sun le ayuda a Rook con su magia.
-Sun deja a sus hermans tiradas en el cine para darle un aventón a Rook en medio de una tormenta.
-Sun siempre está alentando a Rook, diciéndole que él puede hacer magia y práticamente todo lo que se proponga.
Estoy soft.
¿Y ya les dije que esto es en contra de sus maestros, porque son rivales?

“Your eyes are pretty.”
My stomach twisted. “What?”
“Your eyes. They’re very pretty. Like the night sky. Like space. But not the scary space. But the pretty one. With stars.”

La idea de la familia encontrada es muy bonita, y personalmente me encanta leerla. Rook, que es un chico completamente solitario, encuentra de nuevo el apoyo en Antonia, que quién sabe cuántos años tiene y está estreñida emocionalmente por culpa de las situaciones del pasado. Todo el mundo duda de sus intenciones tomando a Rook como su aprendiz, porque piensan que su objetivo es molestar al gobierno mágico, venganza, entre cualquier otra cosa mala que se les ocurra. Pero en realidad, tiene un lado tan suave por Rook que como lectora, se me hacía imposible encajar ambos puntos de vista sobre ella.
Sinceramente, me ha gustado mucho la forma en la que maestro y aprendiz son como un pequeño núcleo familiar. Se nota que los maestros se preocupan por los más chicos y que solo quieren lo mejor para ellos.
Creo que el final es muy de Disney. Estaban en una situación que parecía imposible y, sin embargo, la han podido librar con bastante facilidad. Y, aunque me molesta un poco, tampoco me pareció del todo malo. Dentro del universo que se ha planteado, funciona. ¿Yo quería más acción? Sí. Especialmente por parte de Rook, pero creo que es realista no hacerlo de repente una persona muy poderosa que puede contra todo. Lo mismo con Sun. Después de todo, solo son aprendices.
Profile Image for Frank Chillura (OhYouRead).
896 reviews36 followers
June 2, 2023
I am such a fanboy for F.T. Lukens! I read In Deeper Waters a couple of years ago and fell in love with their writing and it’s been all steam ahead since then.

Spell Bound had their typical queer angst and first love vibes, but in an urban fantasy backdrop. If you were a fan of The Midnight Girls, The House in the Cerulean Sea, or How to Succeed in Witchcraft, YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!

After the death of his grandmother, Edison Rooker goes to world renowned witch Antonia Hex to inquire about an apprenticeship. She isn’t the first witch he’s been to, but he’s hoping that this time the outcome will be different. But just like before, she tests his magical abilities and finds he has none. But somehow he talks her into allowing him to work in her office. She calls him Rook, which nicknaming someone is usually only something a witch does for their apprentice.

When he meets the apprentice to Fable, his boss’s rival, not only is he jealousy for Sun’s magic, but also attraction to this new grumpy person. While their bosses may be frenemies, they start to become something closer to friends. Lending each other a helping hand when they need it.

But Rook is hiding something more than a lack of powers. He’s been working on a new device that will help those born without it, be able to see and work with magic.

I absolutely loved this book. I love that F.T. Lukens writes standalones, but at the same time, I don’t like to have to imagine what comes next for characters. I want it all laid out for me with a little bow. Tell me they get married and have lots of little babies together. Tell me they break up and meet someone new. Tell me one of them dies and the other is HEARTBROKEN!!!! No! Don’t tell me that. I will die inside. But I do want to knooooooooow!

Okay! Now I eagerly await their next book.
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