cover image Spellmaker


Charlie N. Holmberg. 47North, $14.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-5420-2257-6

Holmberg concludes her Spellbreaker duology (after Spellbreaker) with this immersive but rushed gaslamp fantasy set in 1895 England. Unlicensed spellbreaker Elsie Camden is still reeling from the discovery that “cheery old” Lily Merton is the mastermind behind a recent rash of wizard murders when Merton tips off the authorities to Elsie’s unlawful use of magic, leading to Elsie’s arrest. To get her out of jail, Elsie’s lover, the well-connected Bacchus Kelsey, pleads her case to the magistrate, convincing him that a wedding is in the works to prove his validity as a character witness. Released, Elsie must juggle preparations for her unplanned wedding with her search for Merton, who won’t stop murdering wizards until she obtains a powerful spell. Though the magic system is as imaginative and well-defined as ever, the plot feels overstuffed, with Elsie’s wedding taking time away from the central mystery on the way to a climax that strains credulity. Series fans will be pleased to return to Elsie’s world, but will long for more magical action. [em]Agent: Marlene Stringer, the Stringer Literary Agency. (Mar.) [/em]