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Spellcast by Barbara Ashford is a sweetly fantastic book that conjures up the highs and lows of summer theater as it tells the tale of Maggie Graham who ends up at a crossroads, both figuratively and literally. Maggie's summer starts with a chain of events that causes her to flee her Brooklyn apartment in search of a soothing escape from reality in a picturesque New England locale. Inexplicably drawn to a small town in Vermont, she succumbs to the guilty pleasure of resuming an interrupted love affair with musical theater. The unconventional method of casting the roles and fortuitous offering of lodging and meals are harbingers of the many mysteries that Maggie will encounter but the quirky people that she comes into contact with provide the framework for an even larger puzzle than she could have imagined. Each production mounted conjures a wealth of emotional responses from cast members and townspeople alike and Maggie unwillingly is forced to face her own unresolved issues as she falls further under the spell of the Crossroads Theatre and its enigmatic director.

A surprisingly poignant novel that vividly ensnares the reader in the alluring ambience of make-believe while providing an incisive analysis of some of the most familiar standards of musical theater. A fascinating look at the backstories that give depth to a performance, both for the person playing the role and the imagined drama that can be conjectured to form the background of any character in a production. Ms. Ashford imbues the angst and excitement generated by those who create magic when they step on the stage while delivering a spellbinding tale that takes a traditional theme and breathes life and dimensionality into it. A truly enjoyable fantasy woven by an author with a deft touch at creating a realistic and emotional love story. Hurry up with the sequel!

Book Blurb for Spellcast

When Maggie Graham lost her job and her apartment fell to pieces, she decided to flee New York City for a while and hide in Vermont, at the Crossroads Theatre. She hadn't planned to audition, yet soon found herself part of the summer stock cast. But her previous acting experiences couldn't prepare her for the theater's unusual staff-and its handsome, almost otherworldly director.

Night Owl Reviews Jun, 2011 4.75