Spellslinger – Sebastien de Castell Review

“There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your fourteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.”

Kellen’s dreams of becoming a powerful mage like his father are shattered after a failed magical duel results in the complete loss of his abilities. When other young mages begin to suffer the same fate, Kellen is accused of unleashing a magical curse on his own clan and is forced to flee with the help of a mysterious foreign woman who may in fact be a spy in service to an enemy country. Unsure of who to trust, Kellen struggles to learn how to survive in a dangerous world without his magic even as he seeks out the true source of the curse. But when Kellen uncovers a conspiracy hatched by members of his own clan seeking to take power, he races back to his city in a desperate bid to outwit the mages arrayed against him before they can destroy his family.

Why did I pick this up?: First thing, I loved the cover. I have a thing about playing cards – I absolutely love them. Don’t know why, don’t know how, but I just bought six decks myself because they were pretty. So the cover, and the title, drew me in straight away. I wanted to know more about any story that has playing cards in it.

Good points: Where do I start? I loved this. I really did. Ferius I adored. I want to be her. She talks smart, and she has CARDS, what more could you want? I loved how Kellen developed through the story, too, as he understood more about his people and the things that had happened. Also, squirrel cats? Annoyed, grouchy squirrel cats? Why not? They’re not supposed to be, but they still sound sort of cute to me. This was also so much darker than I expected it to be, and I love that. Dark is my thing. The magic of the Jan’Tep was fascinating, and I’d love to learn more. All in all, I don’t really have much bad to say about this at all. I loved almost everything. Which brings me to…

Quibbles: I’m not sure what to say here. I’m honestly not. I expected to dislike this story as it was a chance pick, but I utterly loved it and plan on getting my hands on a print copy asap to add to my shelves.

Overview (TL;DR): It’s gained an honourary place on my shelves!

-K Hart