The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman (2015)
Rosemary, Adam, and Adam’s older sister Shelby share a special bond over books. Together they’ve spent much of their years growing up reading books together and writing plays to act out favorite books. But now it seems like Shelby, who now insists on being called Michelle, is getting too old for these pastimes and has more important things to do with her friends. Rosie yearns for things to be like they used to be.
While moving her room into her father’s old study, Adam and Rosemary find an old book that appears to be mostly empty. Using clues from what is written in the book, they learn that this book belonged to Constance Brooke, a well-known elderly poet in town, and may have once even been owned by Shakespeare himself.
Given the books famous former owners, Rosie and Adam decide to use the book for a poetry project at school. It’s when they start to write in the book that the book seems to come alive. A magical book? Couldn’t be.
While sharing what they’ve found with Shelby, Rosie and Adam learn the book has a dark side to it’s magical capabilities as well. The book can send people you love into a void, causing you to lose memory of them as well.
It’s a race against time when Shelby disappears into the void. Rosie and Adam have to hurry to bring Shelby out out of the void before she is trapped forever. They also must race before all of their memory of Shelby is gone.
What I liked: I really liked the concept of having to race against your memory before you forget what it is that you are trying to save. Although it’s never really mentioned or explained, it seemed like the book had a guiding hand in distracting Rosie and Adam from their goal. It was frustrating to watch Rosemary and Adam be so determined and focused on saving Shelby only to turn around and lose sight of what they were doing. There were so many times that I wanted to step into Rosemary and Adam’s world to remind them what needed to be done.
What I didn’t like: I don’t like when a certain media is used to tell you how great and magical that particular media is. Not only was there a book with actual magical capabilities in The Rosemary Spell, but there were numerous times where the characters reminisce about their favorite books, and reflect on the power those words held. Readers don’t need to be told that books can hold special meaning; all true readers have experienced that firsthand. What’s magical about reading is that the books that hold special meaning are unique to each person, and the reasons those books are treasured is a personal matter.
I don’t read a lot of books that would be classified as literature or classics, especially Shakespeare, so having a book with lots of quotes from Shakespeare in it made the book less approachable for me. I realize that’s my own experience and other readers who are more familiar with Shakespeare may like hunting for clues along with Rosemary and Adam. However, this book is targeted at children who are in the upper grades of elementary school or middle school. I don’t know too many children of this age who would enjoy reading Shakespeare, much less be able to make sense of it, without someone there to explain the text.
My opinion in summary: From reading the blurb on the inside cover I was really excited for what this book had to offer. In the end though, I was frustrated that it ended up being more of a literary read and less science fiction/fantasy as I had hoped.
Overall rating: 4 out of 10