ARC Review: Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

49338237. sy475 Spellbreaker (Spellbreaker Duology 1#) by Charlie N. Holmberg
My Ratings: 3/5

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?

Trigger Warnings: Racism, Misogyny, Murder, Terrorism, Class struggles

I received this book in exchange of an honest review, from the lovely people at 47North and Netgalley. 

His hand stilled. “You’re a bright young woman, Elise. You have no ideathe things awaiting you in this life.” And oddly… she felt better. They were simple words, but they carried a strange power. A firm assurance she didn’t quite understand. She thought she felt… but no, that was a hair tickling her face. 

Charlie N. Holmberg is an author I think alot of people can truly enjoy from. She writes various and unique stories about fascinating magical worlds, monstrous creatures to be shocked from and a delightful humorous writing to booth. I frankly only read The Paper Magician and sadly I feel abhorrent of not committing to reading her other books ever since. Thankfully, an opportunity has been given me by the powers that be and here I am, bragging about Spellbreaker! I was fervent to begin it as soon as possible. I finished it in 4 days, a bit preoccupied with work and my everyday depression but I was successful, pretty darn proud let me tell you. So What are my over whole thoughts? I think its good.

Spellbreaker is set in the era of the 19th century where the regency and industrial powers were blooming back in jolly old London. The idea of going back to the same setting and introducing the idea that magic is part of the norm is nothing new from Charlie. Her first series, the Paper Magician was about all about it and Spellbreaker is like that cousin that you meet up frequently and enjoy their company because you relate to them the most out of your other family members. The magic system is utterly fresh take on the concept, divided into physical, spiritual and temporal, three of basic forces in our known universes that magicians can manipulate but yet can’t fully be all powerful due to the limitations the body can give out. I love when a magic system makes absolute sense in plot and world building and Mrs. Holmberg nailed it. You can’t just take and not except to have nor backlash, hence why you got Spellmakers mirror opposites, Spellbreakers, who can tear runes, spells and are hunted heavily. 

“Are you in trouble with your employer?” 
Which one? She almost asked, but instead said, “No”

Which brings us to both the good and the bad of this book for me. Elise is a naive young woman who happens to be one of the detestable spellbreaker and she hiding it as best as she could. She utilize her skills however for a secret vigilante group called the Cowls who sent her letters and a target from time and time, who gave her finally a reason to feel proud of her powers. I felt her religion like belief in them was a fair lesson that a lot of people including me can relate. We want to sense that we doing great things and people can manipulate us for whatever devious intentions. She also happens to be an orphan and I felt her inexplicable hatred of herself, her unfair criticism she has over mind thinking she’s driving people away because she has this ugliness inside her. I think this quote works best to describe how invested I am with this little sweet child:

Yet the soundest logic in the world could not heal her old wounds. It could not silence the voice that insisted she was unlovable. Unlovable. Unlovable.

Although I immensely enjoy Elise character, her growth and the world I did felt the plot lost me in the beginning. It felt like there was a reason for us to care for what happening to Bacchus, the love interest, who isn’t bad mind you, me and Elise both agree he’s quite a snack to lust for, but we just met him. The crimes occurring throughout London were basically written to be the main drive for both Elise and Bacchus storylines to collide and set them into each other lives.  Not only that but I couldn’t find an ounce of care out of me to feel surprised by the revelations of who’s mastermind. I think that by the time Spellmaker will be released Charlie can amend some of those nitpicks I had. I urge you to pick a copy and give Spellbreaker a read, I think you’d have a fantastic time with it 🙂

Is it Diverse? A bi-racial love interest.


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