Dear Paranormal Romance Authors, Aspiring Paranormal Romance Authors, and Aspiring Aspiring Paranormal Romance Authors,
I think we can all agree that certain tropes have become somewhat overused in the past couple of years. They were well-worn in the ParaRoma boom of the '90s, but with the advent of Twilight and the thousands of knock-offs and look-alikes that followed in its wake, what was once simply "well-worn" has now become painfully, frustratingly trite.
Which is why we need to LET THEM GO. Starting about twenty and a half books ago.
Admittedly, very few books are completely original. Every ParaRoma novel has elements that have been done before, but most manage to inject some spark, some freshness, some new twist on old ideas that make them distinctive, even memorable. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but at least they tried, right? And yet every now and then, we end up reading a book that doesn't manage any of that, a book that settles for formulaic. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Spellbound.
I'm sure you can tell just from the flap summary what I'm talking about. We've got the heroine, Emma, a New Girl in the Prep School Full of Spoiled Socialites. She's a Secret Born Witch who falls in Insta!Love with the Mysterious Bad Boy the first moment they see each other, but of course, he pulls the bullshit Hot and Cold Game with her. She finds an Insta!Enemy in the Queen Bitch, whose boyfriend is the Douchey Jock/Man Whore, develops a Token Gay BFF, and befriends an Exposition Character in the form of the school's Token Witch and Scholarship Student all rolled into one.
It would be different if, say, the sum of these tropes were something unusual or innovative, but it's not. The story is very typical, and the cliches are there to serve the same purpose they've served in every other paranormal romance book ever. Why does Emma's love interest, Brendan, play the Hot and Cold Game? Because it draws out the first act. Why does the Token Bitch instantly hate Emma? Because she provides conflict and contrast. Why does Emma find a Token Gay BFF? Because we're diverse, okay, and also because she's so irresistible that if her male BFF weren't gay, he'd have to be in love with her!
Then there's the presence of Reincarnated Soul Mates and a plot based on the Cursed Reincarnated Lovers trope, which makes Spellbound undeniably reminiscent of a certain other book that has already pretty much cornered the market with this premise. Yes, Spellbound has quite a bit in common with Fallen. It comes off like the Transmorphers to its Transformers, which is to say, a bit of a knock-off. And a generic one at that.
This is the only - ONLY - time I'll ever say anything good about Fallen, but at least it had angels and shit. Sure, it did absolutely nothing with them, created no substantial internal mythos, but at least they were there, lending a bit of their angelic flavor to the bland reincarnation schlock. Spellbound doesn't have that. Spellbound has arbitrary curses and bad poetry, and Witches in Name Only.
I'd hesitate to even call this a "paranormal romance", except that, well, that's all this is. While most other "paranormal romance" titles have plots that concern something other than the heroine's love life - or alternately, the heroine's love life is a part of something bigger - Spellbound is only about getting the guy, breaking the curse, and two people finding a happily ever after. And I mean, I guess that's fine if that's your thing, but when I read paranormal romance, I generally read them for the other stuff - for the world-saving, the evil-defeating, the mystery-solving - and that was painfully lacking here...
Read more at You're Killing.Us