The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
By Jacyln Moriarty
I must confess to being a huge Year of the Secret Assignments fan. I don’t know what it is about that book, but it kept me laughing for weeks and weeks, and gave me enthusiastic anticipation for The Spell Book.
Moriarty (how can you not love that name?) has a zany way of writing that changes your thought patterns, makes you ponder the significance of The Random. She’s not afraid to wait until you’ve read 300 pages to start revealing important, subterranean aspects of her characters. This quote sums her up: “The coincidence comforted her. It suggested a world in which everything was connected by faint dotted lines. There was a grand scheme to things, a gentle, controlling destiny.” I am devoted to stories with grand schemes connected by faint dotted lines, because that’s what real life is all about.
Despite an auspicious beginning, however, The Spell Book of Listen Taylor did not click. Listen Taylor is a twelve year old girl with problems at school. The rest of the book revolves around affairs—real and imagined—between twenty and thirty-somethings. I have absolutely no idea who the book’s audience is supposed to be. Moriarty’s writing is brisk and alive, but the story isn’t one that will interest many teenagers I know. What fourteen year old cares about a bunch of grown-ups having affairs?
I’m still a fan of the way Moriarty strings words together, of her firecracker dialogue, of her faint dotted lines that all match up in the end. But Story rules, and this one just didn’t swing.