REVIEW: Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell (Spellslinger #1)

Title: Spellslinger by Sebastien De CastellSpellslinger Pages: 416
Published by: Hot Key Books
Publication date: 4th May 2017
Genre: Fantasy/Magic
Format: Hardback
Amazon UKWaterstones

Synopsis: 

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.

My review: 

This was a very spontaneous read for me this month as it wasn’t even on my reading pile. The cover is just so beautiful and I was utterly mesmerised by it. I was intrigued by the idea of magic being a con game and how the main character manages to trick people into thinking he has magic when he actually does not. I’ve never heard of this author before or read any of his previous books but his writing was incredibly captivating! I read this book in three days, it was so easy to get caught up in the story and Kellen’s struggle to spark one of his bands so he can wield the magic that comes so easily to those around him.

In this story there are two types of people: Jan’Tep who can wield magic and the Sha’Tep who failed their mage trials, have none or minimal magic powers, and are servants to the Jan’Tep. I wasn’t really a fan of the slavery in this story even though it wasn’t very graphic. Reading about any kind of slavery makes me feel uncomfortable and it’s definitely not something I enjoy. I was disgusted that if someone didn’t spark a band, they were immediately seen to be lesser than you, family or no. It doesn’t matter if they are your brother or your sister, if they aren’t capable of wielding magic they are your slave and nothing more. I could see why Kellen was so terrified of not being able to spark his bands because who would want a life like that?

Every child has six tattooed bands on their arms that need to spark and when they do spark, that child will then be able to wield that type of magic. The bands are: Iron, Silk, Sand, Breath, Blood, and Ember. There is a seventh that is Shadow but this is a band the children do not have because it is believed to be cursed and can drive people insane. I thought this was very interesting and I loved the idea of there being a deadly kind of magic.

The book opens with Kellen’s sixteenth birthday approaching and he still hasn’t managed to spark a band. He is terrified of being forced to become a Sha’Tep and never again being able to wield magic. I think there is a lot of pressure on Kellen because he comes from a very powerful family. His father is incredibly powerful and feared by many. His mother is one of the most gifted healers and at the age of thirteen, his sister is the best student in his school. He feels a lot of pressure to be just as powerful as his father and a lot of the time he feels like he is a disgrace to his family. The opening scene was great because you get to learn so much about Kellen’s character and his personality. You are pretty much thrust right into the story. It felt like as soon as you opened the first page a hand reached out and grabbed you, pulling you right in. It was a fantastic start to the story and gave me high hopes for the rest of the book.

Kellen is such an amazing character. Honestly I fell in love with him right from the start. He’s such an honest and relatable character. Everyone feels pressured at some point in their life and does stupid things to fit in with those around them. Kellen did a lot of stupid things but you could tell his heart was in the right place. He’s an incredibly brave character and even though he has no magic he will still try and fight those who do if he believes they are in the wrong. People with magic can be very arrogant sometimes and you see that a lot in this book. He has some great character development and by the end of the book he is a much stronger character.

Another character who has quite the transformation by the end of the book is his sister. At the start of the book she is very arrogant and smug about her magic. She is very powerful for her age and she likes to show it off. Honestly I didn’t like her at all and the way she treated Kellen at the start of the book really annoyed me. She does something pretty nasty to him which made me instantly dislike her but she redeems herself by the end of the book. She is definitely a different person by the end of the book and I was very surprised! I wasn’t expecting her to say or do the things she did and it was quite heartwarming to see. I really hope she is in the second book because she would make an interesting character after her transformation.

I loved Ferius Parfax. That is such an awesome name to start with! She was a very sassy character and wasn’t afraid to stand up to people. Someone could threaten her and she would just beat them down with words. She showed that you don’t need magic to be powerful. If you are smart and cunning you can easily win any argument. She is a traveller who lives by her wits and three decks of cards. It was so interesting seeing all the things you could do with three decks of cards. She has one deck she uses as weapons which is bloody awesome. Who would expect a deck of cards to be a weapon?!

Another favourite was definitely Reichis which I have no idea how to pronounce so I kind of stumbled over it a lot. He is the devious talking squirrel cat you can see on the cover. He was incredibly sassy. He was like a gangster cat. There is no other way to describe him. He is very mean and cunning. He literally wants to fight everyone and eat their eyeballs. He is very defensive and loves to threaten everyone. A lot of the time he is very sarcastic and insulting but trust me, it’s hilarious. Pretty much everything he said had me laughing, he’s so funny. He is the opposite of Kellen. Kellen doesn’t go looking for a fight but Reichis definitely does. I’m so excited to see what’s in store for the two of them in the second book. They weren’t friends as such, more like business partners but I’m interested to see if that does evolve into a friendship of sorts. I think they’d be good as friends.

The book isn’t really fast paced but it’s not slow, either. It’s kind of in the middle. It was very easy to read and the plot was definitely compelling. I liked how there was four parts to the story and each part explained the trials to becoming a mage and earning a mage’s name. There are very detailed illustrations and I thought they added a nice touch to the story. I read it very fast because I just became so involved in the story and Kellen’s life. About halfway through the book there is the most jaw-dropping twist, ever. I wasn’t expecting it and it felt like a punch to the gut. It honestly left me reeling. I had to put the book down for a second just to gather my thoughts. It was a very exciting plot twist and I applaud the author for leaving me completely speechless! I loved how action-packed the ending was and it was full of some pretty great twists here and there. Kellen really has to put his trickery to the test when he has to out-wit not one but several people with magical powers. Damn, he was such a badass by the end. I am so excited to see how much he has changed in the second book. Seriously he had a great transformation by the end. Don’t you just love character development?

If you love tricksters then this book is a must read for you. You will love it, trust me. This is an amazing fantasy book filled with compelling characters, magic and lots of trickery. Lots and lots of trickery! Plus it has some very sassy characters and everyone loves sassy characters. I am honestly so excited to read Shadowblack and wish October would hurry up already!

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell (Spellslinger #1)

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