Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg
Release date: November 1st, 2020
Spellbreaker Duology #1
A world of enchanted injustice needs a disenchanting woman in an all-new 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?
This book was a little bit hard to get into at first when compared to The Paper Magician series, once I did there was no turning back. In the beginning it was slightly difficult to keep Elsie and Emma straight in my head but once the story progressed I had no issues. I did feel like Bacchus was thrown into the story a little awkwardly, his history and information in the beginning didn’t fit well in that point of time. I knew there was a point for it to be there it just felt slightly off.
The magic system was very interesting – like The Paper Magician magic users are required to follow one area of study, any deviance is frowned upon and the aspector will not be as powerful spreading abilities through multiple areas. The idea that once an aspector passes on they are transformed into a written format of their spells they learned was quite something. The system for magic also fits with the Victorian era – especially where it concerns women and status (wealth).
The twists and turns of this book took me by surprise, I felt just as blindsided as the characters in the book. Elsie’s character was well done, I felt for her position in life, the circumstances that brought her there, and her determination to help those that she could. Bacchus’ character was a little tougher to get into but his circumstances made him more sympathetic to Elsie’s plight that if she had run into a white male aspector of the London elite. They both have situational similarities but Bacchus gains more simply by being male and having connections to elite society.
I would highly recommend Spellbreaker to readers who enjoy fantasy (low), magic, historical fiction, and Victorian Era London.