Spellslinger (Spellslinger, #1)
Shadowblack (Spellslinger, #2)
Charmcaster (Spellslinger, #3
Soulbinder (Spellslinger, #4)
Queenslayer (Spellslinger, #5)
Crownbreaker (Spellslinger, #6)
By: Sebastien de Castell
My Rating: Three out of Five Stars
Best For: 14 and up
Oh, how I wanted this to be amazing!
I’ve had this series on my TBR for a while. I pre-purchased the first four books and was just waiting for the perfect time to jump in and have fun. The name of the book–Spellslinger–that just sounds cool! Those covers with the playing cards on the front? Awesome. The blurb, “Magic is a con game,” had me at Magic and Con Game. I took the bait and swallowed.
I ended up with a hook stuck in my throat, thrashing around, wishing I could just get off.
Ok, well…maybe that’s a little dramatic. But I like the metaphor so I’m going with it.
I knew Sebastien de Castell from The Greatcoats series, and I wrote all about that cool story bogged down by repetitive plots, forced resolutions, out of place language. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised with what I found in Spellslinger.
The guts of this story WAS as fun as advertised! Spellslinger is YA, and the expected elements are there: a fish-out-of-water teenager, coming of age at the most unfortunate time, first love, fighting against The Man. Magic powers, trials to prove your skill, wise mentors, sidekicks to provide comic relief, witty dialogue. It’s a recipe for success that works…
The same problems that sunk The Greatcoats are in Spellslinger, and they made me want to claw my eyes out. First, I called it YA, but it’s very junior YA. I would almost call it middle-grade, except for the very frequent use of second tier strong language (a**, b***h, d**n, h**l). I found 1 instance of sh** in book two. So it’s a nearly middle-grade caliber reading experience with harsh language, and I’m not really sure what to do with that. Additionally, there is strong parental betrayal in the story that could be a challenging topic for some. Second, the plot resolutions are repetitive and overpowered. They use the exact same trick every single time, and every time, now matter how powerful the bad guy, they manage to win and not die. It made Scooby Doo fun, but it made Spellslinger annoying.
I could go on, but I won’t. Those two points sum up my biggest gripes pretty well. I’ll give the audiobook a mention here though, separate from the book: it stinks. For the first time ever I actually used Audible’s generous return policy to get my credits back for the two books I read. I often use a combination of audiobook and eBook when I read, and the poor audio performance might have actually tainted by overall opinion of the book. Which isn’t actually fair to the author, it’s more a jab to the publisher for making it sound like a children’s book with swearing and violence.
I’m curious to see if my teenagers will enjoy these stories. They weren’t all bad, just bad in ways that rubbed me wrong. If I discover there are teens who enjoy them more than I did, I’ll amend my comments.
Did you enjoy Spellslinger more than I did? Let me know! I read the first two books, but I’m not going to continue unless someone tells me I should.