Special thank you to SkyeBookTours for organizing this blog tour and providing me an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are from an advance copy and are subject to change in final publication.
A world of enchanted injustice needs a disenchanting woman in the newest fantasy series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.
The orphaned Elsie Camden learned as a girl that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those, like her, born with the ability to break them. But as an unlicensed magic user, her gift is a crime. Commissioned by an underground group known as the Cowls, Elsie uses her spellbreaking to push back against the aristocrats and help the common man. She always did love the tale of Robin Hood.
Elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey is one elusive spell away from his mastership when he catches Elsie breaking an enchantment. To protect her secret, Elsie strikes a bargain. She’ll help Bacchus fix unruly spells around his estate if he doesn’t turn her in. Working together, Elsie’s trust in—and fondness for—the handsome stranger grows. So does her trepidation about the rise in the murders of wizards and the theft of the spellbooks their bodies leave behind.
For a rogue spellbreaker like Elsie, there’s so much to learn about her powers, her family, the intriguing Bacchus, and the untold dangers shadowing every step of a journey she’s destined to complete. But will she uncover the mystery before it’s too late to save everything she loves?Summary from Goodreads
- Title: Spellbreaker
- Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
- Publisher: 47North
- Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
- Targeted Age Range: YA
- Representation: Love interest is a character of color
- Rating: ★★★☆☆
When I saw Charlie N. Holmberg had a new book out, I was incredibly excited — I remembered enjoying The Paper Magician series when I was younger, and really enjoyed the worldbuilding and magic there. But while I didn’t love Spellbreaker as much as I did The Paper Magician series, I still found it an enjoyable read, and the worldbuilding magical.
It’s been a while since I last read fantasy, and so it was a lot harder for me to get invested in Spellbreaker at first. Not to mention, most of the books I’ve read lately are pretty fast-paced. I think I muddled through the first 35% or so, but once I got invested, I was really invested. In hindsight, it makes sense why it took so long for me to get invested — the worldbuilding just needed more time to be staged, backstories had to be set, and the intricate magic system had to be explained in more detail. In all honesty, I still don’t know if I entirely understand the magic system, so maybe a reread will do me some good. I’m sure I missed out on a lot on my first read, especially when trying to understand all the intricate details, and I’d guess everything will be nicely explained (or so I hope) in the next book.
“If only one could be informed and happy.”
I really enjoyed following Elise on the twists and turns that she went through; I found her backstory tragic, and her sense of justice and unwavering loyalty admirable. Elise’s genuine commitment to social justice made her choices easy to understand. What I wasn’t expecting were all the plot twists that Holmberg had in store. When I finished the book, it felt like puzzle pieces had shifted into place, and everything that didn’t quite make sense at the beginning, sly details here and there, finally made sense. While I’m sure there’s still so much that I missed, or things that I don’t quite understand, I do think Holmberg is a master at plot twists.
Bacchus was a complex companion for Elsie, although I’m not sure how I stand on him as a love interest just yet. I’m assuming their relationship will be better developed in the next book, but I really liked what I saw so far. Their relationship – or what we’ve seen of it so far – reminds me of Elizabeth Bennett and William Darcy. Between their bickering, them getting off on the wrong foot, and how they helped each other become better people, I’m excited to watch their relationship grow. Over the course of Spellbreaker, both Elsie and Bacchus grew as individuals and I’m not sure they would’ve gotten there without the help of one another.
The found family relationship that Elsie, Emmeline and Ogden had warmed my heart, and I’m hoping to read more about them in the next book. Emmeline’s youthful, sweet innocence, and her sisterly bond with Elsie easily made Emmeline one of my favorite characters. I’m not going to lie — I was initially suspicious of almost every character, especially Bacchus and Ogden, but grew to like them by the end of the book.
The amount of action that was packed in the last 20% of the book left my mind spinning; I’m still not sure that I’ve processed everything so far, and the book felt a little unbalanced as a result. I’m not complaining too much, although I’m not one for cliffhangers. Overall, I feel like Spellbreaker is set up more like an extended prologue, and it leaves a lot to be answered for Book 2. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, and hope that all loose ends will be tied up by then.
About the Author
Charlie N. Holmberg is the author of the Numina series and the Wall Street Journal bestselling Paper Magician series, which has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. She is also the author of five stand-alone novels, including Followed by Frost, a 2016 RITA award finalist for Best Young Adult Romance, and The Fifth Doll, winner of the 2018 Whitney for Speculative Fiction. Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses. She currently lives with her family in Utah.