A magic-infused YA novel about friendship, first love, and feeling out of place that will bewitch fans of Rainbow Rowell and Maggie Stiefvater. Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school's magic club—to see him through to graduation. But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs. With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.
Sam is in love with James, who has been pulling away from Delia and Sam ever since something happened over the summer. When he finally reveals part of what has been keeping him away from the other two, it turns out that he has gotten himself in trouble with the wrong sort of people. Sam and Delia must help to make it right. In the process, they will also analyze their friendship and magic as they forge a path forward- along with newcomers to their tight-knit group, particularly Denver who just moved from Tennessee and who is flirting with Sam, maybe.
What I loved: This book is completely enthralling and atmospheric, managing to be really about character development rather than just the action/suspense elements. The characters are felt very real and were developed throughout the story. I also really appreciated the themes about religion (which conflicts with magic) and homophobia, though this was a lighter theme but definitely something always present.
What left me wanting more: There are a lot of answers that we don't get by the end of the book, so I am hoping there will be a sequel. I also felt like we were missing a chapter at the end that resolves the romantic connections (being vague to avoid spoilers), although I was happy with where it all ended in the last chapter.
Final verdict: Atmospheric and engaging, THE FASCINATORS is a YA contemporary fantasy that is perfect for fans of THE LOST COAST and/or THE RAVEN BOYS.