Teenage mage Channie Kerns struggles to overcome two curses—one cast by her parents to change her power-name and another keeping her from being with the nonmagical boy she has come to love.
In Abel’s world, mages live among magically disabled people (or “Empties”), mostly in hiding, and each has a power-name that denotes what kind of magic the individual wields. In Channie’s case, her father’s unfortunate power-name is Money, and his gambling addiction drives his family away from their hometown when he incurs the wrath of the powerful mage queen by casting a spell on her horse during a race. Channie’s troubles don’t end there, though; not only does she now have to blend in with the Empties at a new school in suburban Colorado, but her parents grossly overreact to her flirtation with some boys and cast a curse to change her power-name from Enchantment to Chastity. This plan only serves to increase Channie’s desire—for one boy in particular: Josh Abrim, a BMX racer who, despite being “zapped” by Channie’s new chaste powers any time lustful feelings surge, is unwaveringly drawn to her. From their first meeting on, the novel’s storyline descends into the overly familiar push-pull of confused teenage emotions regarding sex and love. Conflicts such as Channie’s runaway sister and her father’s gambling debt fall by the wayside as Channie’s main concern becomes how to overcome her new power-name and other curses thrown her way that keep her from physical intimacy with Josh. After Channie uncovers a secret Josh has been hiding from her, she hitchhikes back to her hometown with the hopes of freeing herself from a curse she had unwittingly enacted. The consequences of this journey lead to the novel’s fairly predictable conclusion. Although Abel adeptly describes the all-consuming, tangled feelings of teenage passion, readers hoping for magic and adventure will find the back-and-forth, melodramatic teenage jealousy wearisome. Plotlines and character development are sacrificed for pages of seductive glances, self-imposed restrictive cuddling and arguments about how appropriate it is to act on their desires. But these situations will undoubtedly appeal to fans looking for another Twilight-influenced teen paranormal romance.
Abel’s novel starts imaginatively, but in the end magic mostly serves to add further fuel to the flames of teenage lust in an overly familiar story of young, fervent first love.