Spellbreaker Duology

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Publication Date: November 1st, 2020

Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Confession:

“Her spirit felt too big for her body, blooming like a wild rose.”
― Charlie N. Holmberg, Spellbreaker

I absolutely adored these books. They were probably my favorite two fantasies that I read last month. The characters were great, the magical system was amazing and I loved the mystery that was woven throughout the story.

I really liked Elsie, she was such a wonderful character. She has her strengths in her magic as a spellbreaker, and in her resilience coming through a tough childhood like she did, but still remaining a nice person. But she has such doubts about how others feel about her, she abandonment issues, which were certainly justifiable, but made it hard for her to trust people.

“Bacchus grinned and charged forward. This time, when the Englishmen scattered from his path, it was because his stride demanded it, as did his height and breadth. He may have been a copper coin against a sea of silver, but he was a large coin—a fact he often used to his advantage.”
― Charlie N. Holmberg, Spellbreaker

Bacchus was also a well drawn character that you can instantly relate to. He also had a difficult childhood to some extent, being a mixed race bastard, but his father luckily accepted him and raised him to be an honorable yet roguish young man. He is a spellmaker and is a great counterpoint to Elsie in both emotions and in magical power.

Both Elsie and Bacchus are characters that you find yourself liking and rooting for. Their romance gets off to a bit of a rocky start but I loved that it developed slowly over the course of the two books, with Elsie doubting their feelings for each other until you just wanted to shake her and tell her to stop.

The secondary characters were also well done and they felt well fleshed out with backstories of their own. I loved Ogden, who was basically Elsie’s father. He was wonderful with her and you could tell that he genuinely felt like she was his daughter.

The story and the world building were superbly done. I was engaged with the story from the start and was just as intrigued by the murders and the mystery as the characters were. The magical system was unlike anything I have come across before. I loved that there were people who could use spells and those whose job was to undo those spells. How the spellmakers got their spells was also very different and I loved how Elsie described seeing the spells she broke, like puzzles that needed to be unwound.

The setting of Victorian England was also perfect for this series. There was some commentary about how it was mostly the wealthy that wielded magic, not because they were the only ones with the ability, but there were the only ones that could afford it. There was a sort of currency that needed to be used to get the spells, which only the wealthy could get. It would have been nice to see this part of the world explored a bit more and for it to have been a bit more prominent in the story.

This is the first books I have read by this author, but certainly won’t be the last. I really enjoyed the writing style and how much story the author can pack into a relatively short book. If you liked other books by Ms. Holmberg I am pretty sure you like this one as well.

This is a lighthearted historical fantasy mystery that has an appealing magical system and wonderful characters that I think everyone will enjoy.

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