Spellslinger had a lot of deliciously dark epic explosions, but overall the story felt a teeny bit messy.
Just kind of like none of us really knew what was going on. (Or perhaps this is just me.) But it had some fantastic elements, like outlaws who throw playcards as weapons, talking racoons, spells and mages, magical darkness, and a most preciously self-depreciating narrator who I TOTALLY adored.
But I also felt we were getting a Wild Western-esque story but yet….no?? It was more of an origin story for a pure of heart boy who falls to the dark side. Which I’m HERE FOR. But I expected actual, ya know, slinging. Like gunslinging but with magic.
My feelings overall: misplaced expectations.
- I adored Kellen a monstrous amount. He has a dryly witty voice with some quips that totally won the story! He’s self-depreciating and pretty chill about how sucky his life is. Like “Oh I almost died? Right.” He’s nervous and delightfully stupid, but AND ADORABLE AND WINNING. His family are all powerful magicians and his level of magic is: 0%. So he’s angsting over his upcoming 16th birthday when the world ends for him and if he fails his mage tests — boom, servant life.
- There’s a smidge of outlaw origin story happening here. Of which I AM A FAN because I love it when sweet precious cinnamon scrolls are forced to the dark side! However, while there are some tricks and cons in here, I wouldn’t actually peg the book as being particularly con artist-y. Just so you know.
- There was just so much COOL STUFF going down. It squished together so much epicness that I’m totally onboard for, like:
- They do magic by forming patterns with their fingers. #nice
- They have tattoos that “spark” different elements, but not just the average ones, they have stuff like breath, iron, blood, ember, etc.
- They use PLAYING CARDS to THROW and CUT THINGS. I’m such a fan of weaponised playing cards. Freaking awesome, mate.
- Ferius was this epic badass Western-ish woman who had no magic but was so chill and sassy the whole time. Plus she’s the “Mentor” figure BUT A WOMAN. I’M SO PLEASED.
- There are talking sassy racoons so basically this book is Guardians of the Galaxy if it ran face first into Harry Potter, got a nosebleed and a concussion, and needed to sit down for a while.
- It was all together pretty quirkly written, and I loved that!
- I appreciate that it wasn’t scared to smack everyone about. Although I didn’t feel too scared for anyone’s lives, particularly, but there are conspiracies and tortures and people throw around magic spells that kill you from the inside out. It’s all very exciting.
- Kellen felt like a Gryffindor trying to be Slytherin. It didn’t…really work for him. It’s like the book was trying reeeally hard to convince me he was super tricky and a cheater and like, when??? When is it actually going to happen?? He’d jump in front of a car to save a puppy. He’s so Gryffindor.
- The whole story didn’t feel particularly cohesive. Like there were a LOT of elements, like magicians stealing from older tribes on the land and super old dowager magicians talking in riddles and Fenrius being Wild-West-but-not-Wild-West. And I wasn’t sure what ANYONE wanted to achieve.
- World building? Hahhhahhah no. It had none. We get hit with confusing names and that’s IT. Where is my culture?!? Yogurt has more culture. The names were all like Jan’Tep and Ke’heops which was hard enough, but OH, they change names when they become mages. Thanks. I can remember 328 names, I totally can. I so so so didn’t understand the society or the ruling system. I couldn’t even ENVISION the world at all.
- Hello unnecessary romance. I wish you weren’t here. The girl is probably there for like 3 collective pages and has NO personality. We just need someone for Kellen to aspire to kiss.
- I’m actually really confused about whether it was sexist or not. Like the WORLD was, with women being wispy pretty things with no real power…but then Ferius was completely badass and saved Kellen a million times and told him to get a backbone. But she kept saying “man up” which is…sexist. And I’m just really TIRED of women all having to prove themselves. How come we can imagine worlds with talking racoons but not equality??
I so enjoyed all the magic, throwing deadly playing cards, and the potential decent to the dark side for our darling Kellen.
Kellen’s excellent relatable and witty commentary throughout the story is 100% the reason to read it. I just ultimately felt the world was confusing, underdeveloped, and didn’t really entrance me because I was too busy saying “but why is this like so”.
Definitely enjoyable and I want the sequel! But I also would like cheesecake yogurt more, probably.
THANK YOU TO HOT KEY BOOKS FOR THE ARC. Spellslinger by Sebastian De Castell was published April, 2017.
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…The first in a rich and compelling fantasy series bursting with tricks, traps and a devious talking squirrel cat. Perfect for fans of THE DARK TOWER, FIREFLY, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, BEN AARONOVITCH and JIM BUTCHER.