Quick Review: Mia Kerick’s “Love Spell”

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love spell bookLove Spell is the first book I’ve read by Mia Kerick, but I have a very strong feeling it won’t be the last.

I loved her main character Chance César so much that I’m really hoping she’ll write a sequel.

Before reading any further, know that the review below contains some minor spoilers.

*****

I knew that I was in for long haul when … right from the very start, when Chance struts his queenly stuff on the catwalk of the Beans and Green Farm’s Annual Harvest Moon Festival. Kerick throws her reader head first into the tensions, confusion and glamour of Chance’s life: a life in which he finds himself confronting homophobia on a daily basis. He does this in the only way he can: by camping it up to the max. I totally fell in love with his brazen, take me or leave me well alone attitude, and his refusal to back down in the face of narrow-minded, provincial prejudice. His desperate if ill-conceived attempts to win the heart of local boy Jasper (Jazz) Donahue were at times hilarious, at times cringe inducing, but I just had to admire the romantic intentions of this love struck ingénue.

Style snippet …

It occurs to me that brazen is the perfectly appropriate word to describe moi right about now. It is, however, the only perfectly appropriate part of this evening. Which is perfectly appropriate, in my humble opinion. So get over it.

I lift my chin just enough to stop the stiff orange spikes of glitter-gelled hair from flopping forward onto my forehead. But who can blame me? These spikes are razor sharp—best they stay upright on my head where they belong—and gravity can only do so much to that end.

Okaaaayyyy… sidetracked much?

*Forces rebellious thoughts onto business at hand.

Chance César is a brazen B.

I stare ‘em down, but only after I pop the collar of the blinding “Orange Crush” tuxedo I’m rockin’ and shrug my shoulders in a sort of what-the-fuck fashion. Rule of thumb in this queen’s life—first things must always come first.

Pop, shrug, and only then is it kosher to stare.

*Clears throat.

“Eat your ginger-haired heart out, Prince Harry.” Based on the buzz of scandalized chatter blowing about in the crisp evening breeze, I’m reasonably certain that nobody in the crowd heard me speak. And although several of the girls currently gawking at me may do double backflips over my red-haired counterpart across the pond, Prince Harry of Wales, they don’t give a rat’s ass about Chance César. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that they view my atomic tangerine locks as more reminiscent of Bozo the Clown than of the sexy singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.

They are, however, completely unaware that this carrot top is going to make Harvest Moon Festival history tonight.

Refusing to succumb to the impulse to duck my head, I take a single shaky step forward on the stage that’s been set up on the dusty ground beside the vast (by New England standards) cornfield. The stage doesn’t wobble, but my knees sure as shit do. Okay, so I’m a freaking honest diva and I tell it like it is. And I’m what you might call a wreck.

Nonetheless, this brazen B takes a deep breath, blows it out in a single gush, and starts to strut. I mean, this boy’s werkin’ it.

Smi-zeee!! Yeah, my smile is painted on, just like my trousers.

Chance, you are by far the edgiest Miss Harvest Moon this ramshackle town has ever had the good fortune to gaze upon.

I am a major fan of positive self-talk.

Using the feigned British accent that I’ve perfected—thanks to long hours of tedious practice in my bathroom—I dish out my next thought aloud. “I wish I’d put in a tad more practice walking in these bloody heels before going public in ‘em.” And despite one slight stumble—a close call to be sure—the clicking sound my pumps make is crisp and confident. I saunter out onto the catwalk.

What surprised me about this book … I think what surprised me most about Love Spell was probably the narrative style. I just loved the lexical pyrotechnics – the story is told entirely from Chance’s point of view, and he has this serious penchant for word spinning – a passion he shares with Emily, his best friend, who comes up with such pearls as ‘yapper-halt’ and ‘poopatude’. It’s this vital, fizzing, witty form of narration which really drives the story, which gives it so much zest and which makes it such a fun read.

My favorite character … Obviously Chance is the eye-catching, spiky-haired, skinny-jeaned soul of the party. I felt for him as he struggled with his gender-blurring identity crisis, a crisis which he sums up in his heart to heart with Emily: “It’s like this, Em, I’ve so had it with people trying to label ‘what’ I am, but at the same time I’m even sicker of not having a label.”

Chance is at times naive, at times wise beyond his years, but always warm, courageous and fun. However, I also loved Jazz, the object of Chance’s potentially misplaced affections. Here was a character with his own mysteries: is he gay or not? Is he baiting Chance or does he actually share his feelings? There was a tension between the two characters which felt very genuine, and made for a truly compelling narrative.

This is a great read: playful and light-hearted on the surface, but insightful in the way it represents the pressures of growing up gay in small town America. Mia Kerick injects her characters with such vitality that you feel you really share in their triumphs and traumas. I absolutely loved every minute of it and I’m going to be waiting impatiently for that sequel.

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