• Spellbound

  • Magic in Manhattan Series, Book 1
  • By: Allie Therin
  • Narrated by: Erik Bloomquist
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (223 ratings)
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Spellbound  By  cover art

Spellbound

By: Allie Therin
Narrated by: Erik Bloomquist
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Publisher's summary

To save Manhattan, they'll have to save each other first....

1925 New York

Arthur Kenzie's life's work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric...and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan's gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he's become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city's fate hanging in the balance, he can't force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory's ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break - even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.

Contains mature themes.

©2019 Allie Therin (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Spellbound

Average customer ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Audiobook Review

This is a review of the actual AUDIOBOOK, because way too many of the existing reviews only talk about the printed book, which I found completely useless when trying to decide whether or not to spend a credit on it. Yes, yes, the book is a five stars if you like paranormal gay romance at all. But we've all read books we love, then go to buy the audiobook so we can enjoy it again hands-free, only to find it ruined by a dreadful narrator.

In this case, the review of the narrator is especially important because the sample is NOT impressive. The guy sounds like he's never been so bored in his life. I am relieved to say that the full reading is better than that. Kudos to the reviewer who said that the reading is greatly improved by boosting the speed. This is, I think, critical to enjoying it. I liked it at x1.25, and that was still a pretty relaxed read.

The narrator doesn't have a wide range of voices, and Mrs. Brannigan sounds like something out of a British 70s sitcom, but it's amusing rather than annoying. (Really. She's very likable and she's read that way.) Even though the range of voices was less diverse than I like, I never struggled to tell which character was speaking. After a minute or two of listening, as another reviewer mentioned (see how important it is to talk about the narrator in an audiobook review??) my initial misgivings about the narrator faded, and I forgot about him and enjoyed the story. Is that a glowing review? No, that's why I gave the book 5 stars and the audiobook 4 stars.

Authors don't always have control over who reads their book, and new authors don't always get a Joel Leslie or Michael Farraiuolo. This guy is OK, like, "I can live with this" OK. No more, no less. I realized after I looked him up that he read another series for which I own all four books. I felt similarly about his work in that series, too. He'll probably read the next in this series, and I'm happy enough with the work to know I'll buy it, too, because he does OK with a great story. I will almost certainly listen to this one again as the next in the series are released.

Short version: 3 stars performance, 5 stars story, up the speed for better enjoyment.

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39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So Glad I Picked this One Up!

It has been 47 minutes and 22... 23... 24... 25 seconds since I finished listening to the audiobook of Spellbound by Allie Therin. I know this because I now mark time by what happened before I was able to experience this book, and how my life has been utterly and irrevocably changed by having finished the experience. This book is... it's finding that last piece of candy at that bottom of your jacked pocket when you thought you were all out (and not the gross, old piece, but a beautifully wrapped, shining piece of your favorite sweet, still glistening within it's beautiful wrapper, filled with sweetness, saltiness, and a taste that you want to remember for the foreseeable future).

Can you tell I really liked this book?

Perhaps it's the books I have been reading recently, which I have enjoyed JUST AS MUCH as this book, but which present emotions in different ways. Perhaps it's my own writing, which is set in a world that acts as a heavy weight before the characters can even get to explore their own emotions. Whatever the reason, the naked sincerity and bold openness of Rory Brodigan stole my breath away (much the same effect it seemed to have on Ace, really). Part of the reason it took me longer than usual to finish this book was that I was constantly worried that something would happen to Rory, the adorable, rough-tough-cream-puff that he is, to rob him of that vulnerability. I can understand Ace's want to protect him, as it surged within me every time Rory might set off on his own or faced something down that was entirely terrifying. I won't lie, ALL of Therin's main characters shared the same level of depth. The ever worrying, compassionate Arthur, the sarcastic, confident, and quick-witted Jade, the caring, stubborn Mrs. Brodigan... I could go on and on, but I really only had eyes for Rory, and let me tell you, my big sibling senses were going CRAZY for half of the book!

Characters aside, I loved the magic system presented. It added so much to the overall story that it became a character in and of itself. It made villains identifiable and, dare I say, sympathetic? It made heroes vulnerable and brave and sacrificing in a way that no other setting or environment could have.

I don't know if I can recommend this book highly enough. It's a great adventure in 1920s New York, full of magic, mystery, and love. I have to take my hat off to the author. From the first moment I began the story, she had me...

(should I do it? Should I? Oh, I'm going to do it, you watch me.)

...Spellbound.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Recommend

The story is really good, with real chemistry between the leads. This is definitely on the less explicit side of the MM spectrum, so wouldn’t recommend this if that’s what your looking for. But the plot and characters are great, so if you’re more interested in that go ahead. I was slightly put of by the narrator at beginning, but he really grew on me.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Charming love story, decent narration

Pros: charming love story, I really liked their first kiss scene. It's sweet and sexy and fun. I love the setting, 1920s NYC, with the look into all the different socioeconomic groups. It's also refreshing to have an unapologetically bisexual lead who doesn't decide he's gay the as soon as he falls for a man.

Cons: Rory's class angst is understandable but gets tiresome. Ditto the jealousy.

The narrator has a good voice. He doesn't phrase things the way I would, but he's a competent reader and overall I find it fine to listen to.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Immature characters

The plot is good and the system of magic is interesting, but wow, the characters are so immature and unconvincing. They are supposed to be 20 and 28, but they have all of the emotional depth of fifteen year olds. When someone else is flirting and smiling at each other they're like: ugh, get a room, gawd. And when they themselves are flirting they're like: You know I'd hang a second moon for you right?.. oh, haha, no, that was a joke, haha lol I take it back.

My eyes hurt from rolling them too much.
I listened to the second book in the series as well, because I had influenza and needed something easy, but I kinda regret it

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Wearhouse 13 in a tux

The set up is a copy of Wearhouse 13.
Some of the nineteen twenties detail was way off. If the author doesn't know what a fountain pen is, all else is suspect too.
The reader sounded a bit like Rex Reed (Google it if you're under forty.) The performance is greatly helped by speeding it up.
I got this as a recommended example of Decopunk without knowing it was a gay romance; this is the last time I ever use a credit on the strength of a recommendation alone.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty good from chapter 5

“You’re not that short.”
“You’re not that funny.”
You might consider starting an hour in, at chapter 5, where Rory and Archie have their meet-cute after Rory made the mistake of snooping into a relic locked in a box. Before then, it’s pretty dull.

“It’s not your business.”
From chapter 5, with the speed at 1.5x, the narrator and the story settle in, and this delivers a mostly cozy, slightly immature oil-n-vinegar MM romance with a magical mystery as merely a backdrop.
I’d almost consider this magical realism for the measly screen time given to paranormal effects.
I would have enjoyed a lot more descriptions of how the magic works, 1920s world building, and backstories/features for the supporting cast. Jade, for instance, is black, but is she tall and thin or short and stocky? Zang I’m assuming is Asian, but if he was described, it was blink and I missed it.

“Still not your business.”
The romance was sweet, even if a bit of a stretch. Archie behaved like he was a 40 year old debauching a kid instead of him at 28 navigating differences with 20 year old, streetwise Rory. They both behaved like teens with their inner doubts as to whether the other guy liked him. However, their push-pull chemistry was great and there was great smolder heading into the fade to black bedroom scene.
Although the mystery was weak, the overall story was charming, once I got to chapter 5.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Always listen to a sample

The narrator sort of …drones? I think I would like this story a lot but the narrator sounds like he’s reading something that bores him. I’m not sure what it is but it’s preventing
Me from finishing.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A little lite magic

A few magical folks exist in prohibition era NYC, and they’re either friends or frenemies. I kept getting this recommended. After a reviewer with similar taste recommended it as a comfort read, I finally bought it. It’s fine, I’ll read the next one, but the story doesn’t have a feeling of depth that it feels like it should have. The tale and characters are a tad cartoonish. Despite the heroes battling bad actors. it’s a low angst tale of magical shenanigans made so by the nice vs evil being overdone. It’s saved because the characters we’re supposed to like are genuinely kind people, so if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s here.

A few things kind of threw me. In a story with diverse characters it felt a little odd for the blonde guy to express the most disconnect from society for his looks. For his magic sure, but not his looks. And at least the villain’s motivation felt a little hollow and a bit ableist. The sometimes random seeming use of Arthur’s varied nicknames - I didn’t work out why they changed it up so often.

The romance could have used more listening to each other. Both Rory-Ted & Arthur-Ace expressed interest in each other in a way that felt obvious to me as a reader, not subtle with plausible deniability, but they reacted with the denials. It was kind of jarring, except when Arthur-Ace worked through his (kind, sensible) reasoning after one such rebuff. It was odd that they worked together well except for the romance until the end. It was more like bumper cars recolliding than people edging closer.

Steam: Low. The guys were into each other, but again, more colliding, less burning passion. Once they do get together they’re all in. M/M details go off page beyond kissing.

Narration: While the narrator did voicings for different characters’ dialogue, the background narration didn’t change with the dual POV. The editorial decision not to indicate scene breaks, thus switches in POV, made listening often confusing. The author made it clear within a few sentences, but it was a struggle to retrofit the breaks that could have been made easier by a slightly longer pause. Also, there were a lot of mispronounced words. Some I get because they’re foreign or regional but is ‘the Thames’ pronunciation still niche in the internet era? It didn’t interfere with understanding, but it kicked me out of the story.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

So, so very bad

At first I was taken aback by the monotone performance. It was literally him reading. No acting, no emotional nuance, just him reading in one note. So I adjusted my expectations and thought I could get into the story.....I just couldn't. I thought maybe it's supposed to be a YA book because it was so juvenile. Then I thought maybe it was written by a very young, very immature person but in the bio it says she was a lawyer. It was like she had zero understanding of human psychology or just basic human nature. I could not finish it because it was torture. The one good thing was Audible let me return it. Just sooooo bad!

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