Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Book review by
Rachel Sarah, Common Sense Media
Spellbook of the Lost and Found Book Poster Image
Eerie, unsettling, magical story about loss and love.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about Irish culture and pick up a bit about patron saints. 

Positive Messages

Great representation of bisexual teens: one girl falling in love with a boy, one with a girl. Positive take on feminism, and the importance of trusting others. Be true to yourself. Sharing your secrets can help you overcome sadness, fear, and shame. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Strong female teens who are open about their sexuality. Also refreshing to see different body types represented. 

Violence

Implication that rape has happened, but it's not described graphically. Memories of abuse. 

Sex

Kissing, heavy making out, clothes coming off, and mentions of teens having sex. 

Language

Infrequent swearing: "s--t" and its variations, "f--k," "dammit," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "hell."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spellbook of the Lost and Found, by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (The Accident Season), is a twisting, mysterious, dark story about secrets and promises made. After a handful of teens in an Irish town realize their things have gone missing, they find a spellbook that promises to return what they lost -- but perhaps they should be careful what they wish for, because "not all lost things should be found." The writing is very lyrical and sensual, and there's a diverse cast of characters, including two bisexual teens, one of whom is deaf in one ear. Teens and adults drink and smoke. ("My parents ... well, they mostly just drink and disappear. That's kinda what they're good at.") There are references to consensual sex and frequent swearing, including "s--t" and its variations and "f--k."

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byren2003 November 19, 2017

What's the story?

In SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND, a few teen girls (Olive, Rose, Hazel) who live in a small Irish town start losing things, and as the scenes unravel, two more groups of teens show up and deal with their own losses. A total of six narrators enter the story with different voices and points of view. Their lives connect at home, in the forest, and in an abandoned house, and the overarching refrain twists around this theme: "If you're not careful, you can spend your whole life looking for what you've lost." 

Is it any good?

This is a story for teens who love magic and mystery. Readers will get pulled in to Moïra Fowley-Doyle's lyricism and the cadence of her writing: "I search the whole house. Between bedsheets, in the shower drain, under couches, in the back of the fridge. The dogs follow me, sniffing around as if they know what I'm looking for."

But it's challenging to follow the storyline as the narrative shifts into so many different first-person voices, especially when the narrative jumps between the past and the present. In the end, everything connects, as the characters face their shame and betrayal -- and the pain that goes along with it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how loss is portrayed in Spellbook of the Lost and Found. Does it seem realistic? How have you faced the loss of loved ones or things that were important to you? How did you move on?

  • Do you write in a journal or a diary, or have a way of expressing your feelings? If so, does it help you? If not, do you think it would?

  • How do you think keeping secrets affects others in your life, like friends and/or family members?

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