Title – ‘Spellslinger’
Author – Sebastien De Castell
Publishing – May 4th 2017 by Hot Key Books
Pages – 416
Format – E-Book
Book Summary –
‘MAGIC IS A CON GAME.
Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone.
As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path.
Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope…’
NOTE; I received a copy of this e-book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
*Warning – Contains MINOR spoilers*
What a great book. Honestly. I remember seeing Spellslinger around on NetGalley a few times and the cover always caught my eye, then reading the synopsis always enticed me in further. As it was though I went through a phrase of not using NetGalley and so my attraction to this book was simply not fulfilled… yet. I took a leap after going back onto NetGalley a couple of weeks ago and to my surprise was given the opportunity to read this novel, I genuinely didn’t expect it but I’m glad it happened, because I really really enjoyed this book!
We start off the story with young Kellen, just shy of his 16th birthday and hoping to become a great Spellcaster. As it is however… fate has other plans for Kellen. His magic is fading and therefore to try win his first mage’s duel and to try and get through the 4 trials which could make, or break, his Spellcaster dream he has to be smart… and think on his feet. It nearly works.
Kellen is an incredibly clever character, sometimes a little slow at times, but his smarts definitely show through in this novel. He’s loyal to his family and to his future as a Spellcaster and that loyalty show extremely strongly throughout the novel. Even when, towards the later part of the novel, his people are shown in a negative light he continues to see the good and never truly looses sight of that. Kellen was just such a lovable character for me and the right choice for the main character. He develops so much in this novel and even if it’s in ways he didn’t expect it’s still incredibly enjoyable to read about. He goes through so so much but actually comes out a better person than he went in… stronger too and loyal to the right cause. And, for a change, doesn’t sound like a 30 year old adult talking out of a nearly 16 year old body… like some novels have a habit of doing.
Whilst Kellens magical development, or lack of, is the main plot point I actually think this novel had some really strong secondary elements. The idea that Kellens people, the Jan’Tep aren’t quite innocent with their history is one of the stories main undercurrents… it’s hinted at but isn’t fully conceived until the later part of the book and ends up playing quite a major part of story line. Also this book has a strong sense of friendship and family and how they can always play a part in who you are and who you become. Kellen ends up almost fully outcast but he finds his way… a different way… and makes friends with those he would have never expected. There are a lot of elements that are covered in this book… and most of which are done in a well written but subtle fashion. You’re never thrown too much of anything… a plus point for De Castell’s writing for sure.
The magic in this book is also wonderfully written… it isn’t ‘just there’. It’s described, worked for and understood in ways a lot of fantasy books just don’t quite pull off. The descriptions about how magic in this particular world is wielded, conjured is wonderfully written… it has a history, it has a beginning… something which was incredibly pleasant to read about. And this novel shows us that you don’t always have to be able to wield the elements to have a little ‘magic’ in you… this is where the wonderfully sassy Ferius Parfax played a major role. She was the one that truly taught Kellen that magic truly is a ‘con game’… that a simple pack of cards can carry just as much magic as someone who can wield fire or wind for example.
Talking of Ferius… what a incredibly independent character indeed. Definitely full of life, furiously strong minded and full of western wit and charm. She was one of the easiest characters for me to physically picture in my head… and really showcased some of De Castell’s tongue and cheek writing style. And talking of tongue and cheek I can’t really not mention Reichis, the squirrel cat, who is probably my favourite character from this novel. So so aggressive… but in that simply humorous format that’s hard to take seriously. He was such a wonderful addition to this story and one that I’m glad for. He was the main comic relief in the story but it never fully took over his character, he still had his serious… heroic moments… even with his constant want to eat a few of the characters eyeballs on multiple occasions! The ultimate sidekick, or business partner as he preferred to be called.
I feel like this book has an amazing balance. It has a solid story line, an amazing array of characters with the main character Kellen showcasing a massive amount of personal development as well. The magic was ‘magical’ but never took away from the idea that anybody could conjure magic if they so choose.. just not quite in the same fashion. The only reason why I downed this story a star was the world building… it wasn’t massively strong but in some ways it didn’t need to be. I almost feel like if it did have more world building it would have actually taken away from the story instead of adding to it. This novel’s main focus is the characters at the end of the day, therefore the world building wasn’t actually needed to a huge extent… but a little more wouldn’t have hurt.
To sum up this review… Spellslinger was a genuinely solid read. It has all the markings of a typical fantasy novel but enough individuality to make it stand out above the crowd. I was never bored reading this novel… there was action, there was happiness, sadness, humor and a little bit of darkness in there too. In some ways it reminded me of a slightly more humorous, more middle grade centered version of Six of Crows… it has that typical ‘con’ game going on throughout. This book is simply very likable. I will most certainly be buying a physical copy upon it’s release, the cover is too gorgeous not too, and I am looking forward to the rest of the series… I am especially looking forward to seeing just how Kellen, Ferius and Reichis develop and bond further and just how that dark magic, Shadowblack, begins to effect and take hold of Kellen and just what part that element has to play.
Would I suggest this book to other bookworms?
If you like fantasy, magic and a smart main character then definitely!
Am I completely in love with this book?
Such an easy, amazing and magical read… was hard not to love!
Will I be reading the next book in the series?
[I rate this book 4/5 stars]