Title: Spellbound (Armitage Black Book 1)
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Ashcroft
Publisher: Amazon Media
Publication Date: 24 July 2015
Rating: 3 out of 5
When a number of unusual murders start happening in her village of Habely, 21-year-old Police Typist Armitage Black is beyond intrigued. The circumstances of each murder identical to the last, and when the man responsible is finally caught, he claims that he had been forced to do it by Elodia Knight – a witch with full-blown magic powers.
But everyone knows that witches aren’t real…
Determined to find out how Knight is making herself appear to be a true witch, Armitage cheerfully throws herself into the investigation, dragging her best friend, Angie, and Black Labrador, Squidge, along with her. But as their snooping continues, they come to the attention of Knight herself, who is determined to reach her goals – and if getting rid of Armitage is the only way to do that, then getting rid of Armitage is exactly what she’ll do.
With another innocent life hanging precariously in the balance, the local Police Force doing their best to keep her out of the case, and Knight closing in fast, Armitage and her nosiness face a challenge that they’ve never had before. But they’ve never given up mid-snoop before – and Armitage will be damned if she lets that streak end now…
Thank you to the author, Laurie Elisabeth Ashcroft, for providing me with a copy of Spellbound for review purposes.
Spellbound is a crime mystery story following 21-year-old police typist, Armitage Black, who gets herself thoroughly embroiled in a situation that seems to involve a witchy serial killer.
As you may be able to tell from my description, Spellbound is quite a light-hearted, humorous read - nothing too dark and gritty - aimed at teens/young adults.
The protagonist, Armitage Black is incredibly nosy and a humongous know-it-all, as evidenced by the very first line in the story, "So, the first thing that you need to know about me is that I'm a fair bit nosy. Ridiculously nosey, in fact.". My first impression was that she is not a character who is easy to sympathise with, However, as the book progressed, I found myself slowly warming to Armitage. Yes, she’s incredibly annoying, however she is energetic, passionate, inquisitive and has an incredible sense of self-belief, along with surprisingly little sense of danger or self-preservation!
The supporting characters are likeable and relatable. Her best friend, Angie Fallows, seems down to earth and sensible. She is happily settled down with Detective Constable Johnny Wallace, another very sensible individual, and, on the whole, seems fairly unshakable even in the face of Armitage's craziness. Detective Constable Aiden Hadaway adds a nicely conflicting element to the story, with him and Armitage butting heads at every conceivable moment.
There is an element of romance within the book, between Armitage and Hadaway. With their constant bickering, you can see where this subplot is heading. The burgeoning relationship between Armitage and Hadaway is very chaste in nature (due, I'm guessing, to the likely age of the target audience), which works well with this particular book. I think a more heavy romance would have detracted from the story.
The main plotline is unique and interesting. Armitage and her friends/police are on the trail of a witch, if there is such a thing!? Elodia Knight is up to something and it's not good. People are going missing, bodies are turning up and she's bewitching the local coppers in order to get out of an interview. Ashcroft has created a truly nefarious and completely crazy villain in Elodia Knight.
As mentioned above, the book is obviously targeted at teens/young adults. This is shown in the language (i.e. the word "knobhead" being used quite liberally throughout) which adults might find slightly immature and repetitive, however I think the language is such that teens would identify with and this may well help to make the reader feel more involved in the story. It also helps to give us a real idea of Armitage's personality and thought pattern.
I think that a large part of the enjoyment of the story comes from suspending belief and accepting what the book tells us. As an adult, I did struggle at time to accept some of the less realistic elements of the story, such as the police allowing Armitage to interfere so readily in their investigation. However, I fully accept that I have become quite pedantic as an adult, often commenting on TV shows that something "just wouldn't happen" in real life. My husband has to constantly remind me that some liberties have to be taken in order to create an interesting story. This is certainly the case here. If Armitage was unable to interfere in the investigation, it would be much harder to keep the story short and snappy.
Overall, Spellbound is entertaining and fun. It is a light-hearted, energetic and pacy read with a huge dollop of humour thrown into the mix.
Of interest to anyone who has enjoyed Spellbound, the second book in the Armitage Black series, Devilish is due for release on Kindle on 23 December 2015.
Probably the biggest thing about me is how much I've always loved books.
Apparently, even before I could walk and talk, I used to just sit there and stare at the pictures in the books that Mum or Dad or whoever was reading to me. And then, of course, I had to go to that horrible place called School, where I used to get bored of the lessons and walk out of the classroom to bury myself behind all the coats in the cloakroom and read my latest book. Clearly, 4-year-old Laurie was a lot more devious than Adult Laurie :-)
When I was 10, my first favourite characters were born: Amber & Vernon, twin children of the President of the United States. Honestly, that story is so bad that I can't read it today (yes, I still have it) without laughing my head off - but it obviously kicked something off, because Amber & Vernon stayed with me, on and off, until I was 19 or 20 (by which time, happily, my writing had very much improved). Amber & Vernon have recently undergone a makeover, actually, and when I come back to them - which I will do, at some point in the probably distant future - they will now be called Mina & Liam.
Amber/Mina & Vernon/Liam have been very much sidetracked, though, by Miss Armitage Black. And Armitage really is my very favourite character that I've ever written - she's so happy and bouncy, and so many things just bounce straight off her, that I think she's fab. (So does Armitage, actually. But then we're both biased.) The thing that I love most about Armitage is that she went in a completely different direction to my initial plans for her, and she's the first character of mine to do that. I have so much fun writing about Armitage and her adventures and her love of biceps - I really hope that anyone who reads Spellbound loves her even a quarter as much as I do.
OK. So. That's all of my writing stuff.
As for me... I live in a 2-bedroom flat between Middlesbrough and Guisborough with my cat-who-thinks-she's-a-dog, Maggie the Moggy. I dog-sit a lot for my Dad and Stepmum and my sister and her husband, so there are times when my flat strongly resembles The World's Worst Petting Zoo. All I need is for one of them to get a horse and I can finally be upgraded to Farm ;)
Like Armitage, I used to work at a Police District Headquarters and, later, as a Police Typist. And I really think that, definitely without being a Typist, I couldn't have finally got her out on paper - for at least two years beforehand, I'd had this little person floating around my head, wanting to have an unusual name, wanting to get involved in some kind of supernatural mystery that the Police were already investigating - but I had no idea how to get her to where she wanted to be.
Being a Police Typist was the perfect way to do it - Armitage would have unlimited access to the tapes of interviews with perpetrators and victims of crime. And if she happens to get a bit too nosey... well, clearly, she's a very dedicated Typist :P
Still looking for Mr Prince Charming, by the way. This is my one problem with books - the men are always so good-looking and so nice and so into their leading lady, when in actual fact, dating is just HARD. You don't know who you're going to like, who you're going to like but not wind up with, who you're going to wind up with but not like, who you're going to (maybe) eventually settle down with and marry and possibly even pop out a couple kids. In Bookland, all of that stuff is so EASY. And maybe that's why I like writing so much - just because real-life can be so hard and muddled-up, it doesn't mean that people living in Bookland have to have the same confusion. (Or maybe they do. Otherwise, things could get boring.)
And you never know. One day, some scientist who loves books just as much as I do might create a machine that lets certain bicepped men come leaping off the pages and into real life...
A girl can dream, can't she? :) xx