Posted in book reviews

Book review: The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love,
, Act 4, scene 5.

What if Shakespeare created a magical codex that gave power to rhyme? Two teenagers in a small Pennsylvanian town come across such a book and accidentally end up using it to disastrous ends. In order to fix their wrong doings, solve the mystery of the codex, and complete their poetry assignment, Rosemary and Adam turn to library research and an elderly poet whose memory was ravaged by Alzheimer’s. Rosemary even employs the use of a concordance in her research (upon her mother’s suggestion, who also happens to be a Shakespearean scholar), an aspect of the story which is sure to please librarians and English researchers alike. It seems unlikely that most teens get excited about library research, but Rosemary does out of desperation. It also helps that the author is an English professor at Bucknell University, a small liberal arts college in Lewisburg, PA. She’s writing what she knows.

Having lived in small-town Pennsylvania, I can tell you that the story paints a very realistic setting that ironically, considering the theme of memory that is present in the novel, conjures strong memories of my past. When one lives somewhere rather uneventful, oftentimes boredom or curiosity will compel a normally well behaved child to become involved in a situation more dangerous than they can handle, which Zimmerman convincingly portrays in first person through the main character, Rosemary. The idea of a magic codex that causes terrible things to happen seems quite like the kind of story a child or a young teen would compose in response to a major tragedy in his or her life. Actual magic is very minimal in the text, just a touch to make it land in the magical realism genre rather than full-blown fantasy. Will tweens be able to relate to Rosemary and Adam? I’m confident fans of Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, and Seven-Day Magic, titles Zimmerman actually references in the story, will enjoy The Rosemary Spell.


I read this novel as a part of YES WE CRAB reading challenge. I plan to read 10 books (of all sizes!) and blog once a week during the month of February!



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