cover image OLD MAGIC


Marianne Curley, . . S&S/Pulse, $5.99 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-7434-3769-1

An appealingly witchy atmosphere combined with breathlessly over-the-top narration and a generous helping of high school intrigue go a long way toward camouflaging the slack plotting and clichéd characterizations of this first novel by an Australian writer. Witch-in-training Kate is smitten with Jarrod, the new boy at school. Numerous chapters—which Kate and Jarrod take turns narrating—chronicle in great detail Kate's efforts to convince the doubting Jarrod that, in addition to possessing a vast reservoir of untapped magical power, he is also the latest victim of a centuries-old family curse. On the social front, loner Kate must cope with her potential soulmate's adoption by the school elite and his apparent role as the chosen boyfriend of the most popular girl, a standard-issue nasty-but-gorgeous villainess. Eventually, Kate and Jarrod leave their tiny Australian mountain town and travel magically back in time, to a medieval-lite version of 13th-century England, where they try to stop the curse at its source. Not surprisingly, the curse is lifted by novel's end and—equally important—back in the contemporary world, Jarrod commits to taking Kate to a very important dance. More old hat than old magic, but fun nonetheless. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)