Tuesday, March 9, 2021

ARC Review: Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg


Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: Spellbreaker (Book 2)
Publication: 47North (March 9, 2021)

Description: Dead wizards, stolen enchantments, and broken promises force a young spellbreaker out of the shadows in the next thrilling installment of the Spellbreaker series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

England, 1895. An unsolved series of magician murders and opus thefts isn’t a puzzle to Elsie Camden. But to reveal a master spellcaster as the culprit means incriminating herself as an unregistered spellbreaker. When Elsie refuses to join forces with the charming assassin, her secret is exposed, she’s thrown in jail, and the murderer disappears. But Elsie’s hope hasn’t vanished.

Through a twist of luck, the elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey helps Elsie join the lawful, but with a caveat: they must marry to prove their cover story. Forced beneath a magical tutor while her bond with Bacchus grows, Elsie seeks to thwart the plans of England’s most devious criminal—if she can find them.

With hundreds of stolen spells at their disposal, the villain has a plan—and it involves seducing Elsie to the dark side. But even now that her secret is out, Elsie must be careful how she uses the new abilities she’s discovering, or she may play right into the criminal’s hands.

My Thoughts: The second book in the Spellbreaker duology begins with Elsie's arrest. Unregistered spellbreakers are horribly illegal and can even be put to death. However, she has new Master Bacchus Kelsey on her side. He manages to free her from jail by swearing that her gifts are new and also that he intends to marry her. 

While Elsie suffers from her low self-esteem and abandonment issues, the major villain of the story is not letting up on her so far undetermined goals. Master Lily Merton is still trying to gather opuses and accomplish some mysterious goal. Elsie, Bacchus, and Ogden are busy trying to figure out what she wants and how they can keep her from accomplishing her goals.

Meanwhile, Elsie is saddled with a new teacher to help her learn about her abilities as a spellbreaker. Irene Prescott spends way too much time teaching Elsie things she already knows but can't tell anyone she knows. But when Elsie's skills are outed, Irene becomes a colleague who is willing to help in defeating Master Merton's plans.

The worldbuilding is intriguing in this story. I enjoyed the setting and the time period. I liked the growing relationship between Elsie and Bacchus once they stop acting at cross purposes and begin to believe and trust each other. 

Fans of historical fantasy will enjoy this duology. But be sure to read SPELLBREAKER first!

Favorite Quote:
One of her abilities as a spellbreaker was to detect magic. Physical spells could be seen, rational spells had a certain feel to them, spiritual spells had a sound, and temporal spells had a smell.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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