Book Review: Spellmaker

Murdered wizards and stolen opus spellbooks would be enough trouble for anyone to deal with. But right now it’s the least of Elsie’s concerns.

After narrowly thwarting the plot of a master spellcaster, the culprit manages to slip back into the shadows, and Elsie finds herself exposed as an unregistered spellbreaker: a crime that could cost her her life.

Luckily all is not yet lost, and the elite magic user, Baccus Kelsey, manages to secure her release, but only by claiming that they are soon to be married. And under the watchful eye of a new magical tutor, Elsie has both a wedding to plan and a devious criminal to thwart.

With hundreds of spells at their disposal, the threat is greater than anything they could have imagined, and Elsie must play her cards carefully to avoid playing right into the villain’s hands.

by Charlie N. Holmberg

eBook, 301 pages
March 9, 2021
Published by 47North
Fantasy | Romance | Historical Magic | Young Adult | Mystery

Find this book on: Amazon CA | Goodreads

Whelp, that’s certainly one way to wrap things up.

All opinions and terrible jokes are my own!

I was really hoping for more from the sequel to Spellbreaker. And at the start, it seemed like a solid set up. A murderer on the lose, a threat to Elsie’s life, and a fake marriage between two idiots in love? This should have been everything I needed to adore the conclusion of the Spellbreaker Duology.

Unfortunately, whatever magic I felt from the first book, doesn’t seem to have followed it here.

Everything I loved from the first book – the mysteries, the conspiracy, the ominous threat looming with the murder of master spellcasters across magical-London – all felt shoved to the side to accommodate fake-wedding planning and the eternal torment of Elsie and Baccus pining over each other like the blind fools they are.

And I am an absolute sucker for pining idiots, so if I’m complaining about it, that’s not a good sign.

All the tension and mystique that Spellbreaker set up like a glittering tower, just seemed to fall to pieces by the end. And it was all in the service of defeating a villain who, unfortunately, felt entirely flat and forgettable as a threat. Even the conclusion of the mystery portion was particularly hard to swallow – and that was my favourite part of the first book!

I can forgive a lot of things, Spellmaker, but a flat villain and a spoiled mystery are not among them.

The rest of the book was pretty standard and, to be fair, Holmberg’s prose is still delightfully charming – when it isn’t being dragged down by wedding plans. Some of that unique wit from the first book can still be found in beautiful bits of dialogue and narration. And if nothing else, it does neatly wrap up the events of the story.

But at the same time, it’s almost too neat; bordering on saccharine. Almost everything is tied up by the end with a ribbon on top, but not in a way that’s satisfying; it’s a rush job to make it to ‘happily ever after’, and all those bows are crooked.

I’m all for a happy endings, but only when it’s hard fought and well deserved, and I didn’t get that from Spellmaker.

Free png from

A rather dim 2.5 bursts of flame for Spellmaker: a lacklustre finale to a duology that once had me dangling off the edge of my seat only to leave me hanging at the finish line.

While Spellmaker wasn’t a terrible follow up to the story set up in the first novel, the majority of the story felt patchwork and rushed at the best of times. By the end it was clear that the allure of the simply couldn’t live up to the hype. That’s just my opinion of course, but hey, that’s what you guys read these things for.

If you enjoyed the first book, I can’t really say I recommend this one, but you still may want to check it out just to see how things end. You might end up find it way more satisfying that I did, but as far as I’m concerned, this spell has been well and truly broken.

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