Set in Victorian England, Holmberg's (Plastic Magician) newest fantasy is also a mixture of mystery and romance. Elsie Camden is a young child when she is "rescued" from a workhouse by a shadowy figure. She is set on a path to use her special talent to help people for whom justice has been magically denied. She is proud to be useful, and wanted, as a tool for good. After a decade, the missions come more frequently, until one day, she is caught. The man who interrupts her latest spellbreak, Bacchus, is handsome, strong, and even a bit distracting. And confusing, because if he is so just, how can he be working against her mentors? Bacchus is not the only distraction, either. Someone is killing aspectors (or spellcasters) in order to steal their magical essences (called opuses). VERDICT Those who enjoy gentle romance, cozy mysteries, or Victorian fantasy will love this first half of a duology. The cliffhanger ending will keep readers breathless waiting for the second half.—Elizabeth Masterson, Mecklenburg Cty. Jail Lib., Charlotte, NC
A plucky young woman with the ability to unknot and dispel magical runes finds herself in the middle of a trans-Atlantic conspiracy in this fantasy-mystery adventure.
By day, Elsie Camden works a mundane job in a stonemason's office, but by night, she carries out missions from the Cowls: the secret order that once came to her rescue and now calls on her to use her anti-magic abilities in service of the greater good. As an unregistered spellbreaker, a person born with the power to unmake magic, Elsie lives her life in fear. Spellmaker Bacchus Kelsey has traveled from Barbados to London to be named a master of his craft, for which he will receive one spell of his choice as a reward. When the powers that be deny Bacchus his prize spell because of his Caribbean origins, he begins searching for an opus—the unique spellbook each magician leaves behind upon their death—containing the spell. After a mission from the Cowls lands Elsie in Bacchus' debt, the winner of a recently auctioned opus becomes the latest target in a string of robberies and murders, all of which leaves Elsie to wonder whether her work for the Cowls is truly a social boon. Timely discussions of race, class, disability, and gender turn up throughout Holmberg's magic-infused version of Victorian England. Although it's not immediately clear how the various plot elements will connect, readers will have trouble stepping away once the game's afoot.
Powerful magic, indulgent Victoriana, and a slow-burn romance make this genre-bending romp utterly delightful.
Skillful vocal characterizations enhance this fantasy audiobook set in a magical Victorian Britain…While the plot is complex, both narrators evoke the sympathetic protagonists so convincingly that listeners will feel invested, as well as excited for the sequel.” —AudioFile Magazine
An Amazon Best Book of the Month: Science Fiction & Fantasy
“…romantic and electrifying…the fast-paced plot and fully realized world will have readers eager for the next installment. Fans of Victorian-influenced fantasy won’t want to put this down.” —Publishers Weekly
“Those who enjoy gentle romance, cozy mysteries, or Victorian fantasy will love this first half of a duology. The cliffhanger ending will keep readers breathless waiting for the second half.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Powerful magic, indulgent Victoriana, and a slow-burn romance make this genre-bending romp utterly delightful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Rich and whimsical…prepare to fall in love with Charlie N. Holmberg’s dazzling Spellbreaker.” —POPSUGAR
“Part historical fantasy, part cozy mystery, this one sounds delightful.” —SyFy Wire
“One of the most anticipated books of the season.” —Cultured Vultures
“The twists are breathtaking. Holmberg is an experienced writer, and the clues she drops like bread crumbs throughout the story are cleverly scattered and concealed.” —Bookreporter
“A charming mix of alternate history, fantasy, and romance that’s sure to appeal to readers of all three genres.” —Starry Mag
“Artfully constructed…as a suspenseful comedy/romance/magical mystery, Spellbreaker hits all the right notes.” —Locus Magazine
“Spellbreaker is an enchanting new fantasy novel that will delight readers with its endearing protagonists, fun magical escapades, and tantalizing hints of romance. A thoroughly enjoyable read that balances the fine line of satisfying its audience while leaving them wanting more.” —The Nerd Daily
“Spellbreaker is refreshingly original and Elsie is an engaging character, sympathetic but prickly.” —Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author