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

Rating: 4.5/10


A would-be mage with no magic of his own has to defeat powerful enemies with only cunning and deception in the first book of an exciting new adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell.

Kellen is moments away from facing his first duel and proving his worth as a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is fading.

Facing exile unless he can pass the mage trials, Kellen is willing to risk everything – even his own life – in search of a way to restore his magic. But when the enigmatic Ferius Parfax arrives in town, she challenges him to take a different path.

One of the elusive Argosi, Ferius is a traveller who lives by her wits and the cards she carries. Daring, unpredictable, and wielding magic Kellen has never seen before, she may be his only hope.

The first novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic.


“First thing you learn wandering the long roads, kid. Everyone thinks they’re the hero of their own story.”

Thank you to Hachette Audio and Orbit for my audiobook copy of Spellslinger. This is no way effected my review of this book.

I want to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this review. This book was clearly targeted to a younger audience. I would say it is on the younger side of YA Fantasy. So somebody closer to the age that this book is meant for would most likely enjoy it much more than I did. Also, I wanted to give a shoutout to the narrator Joe Jameson who did an incredible job.

The premise of this story was solid and should have led to something I really enjoyed. A clan of magic users, a mysterious stranger, and an underdog story are all tropes that I really tend to enjoy. However, there were just too many things that fell flat for me in the execution. Let me explain.

Kellen, our main protagonist, was very likeable. He is someone that was easy to root for throughout the story. However, that is where the positives ended for me. For this type of story to be really gripping there has to be an element of imminent danger to the character(s) that you are following. Unfortunately in Spellslinger, I never felt that Kellen was ever in any real danger. There were plenty of fights and action, but I never worried about him actually making it out alive.

I would even have been happy with the danger of him being hurt emotionally in some way instead of physically(wow that sounds sadistic, sorry about that), but unfortunately when things did happen that should have been emotionally jarring for a 15 year old he seemed to take it in stride and kept moving without much effect. I felt there should have been more time set aside for Kellen’s character development throughout the events of this book, especially grieving and the effects of combat and death all around him. In fact most everyone in this story, including the villains, lacked depth. I am a very character driven reader and I think that even for a younger YA audience Spellslinger could have gone into much more depth when it comes to the characters.

The magic system was intriguing at first, but unfortunately ended up by the end of the book feeling very mundane. It was very simple and was not explained much past what we knew in the first couple of chapters. This is something that I think could work fine for a younger audience, but as an avid fantasy ready for most of my life it fell short for me.

The humor in this story at times was really good and I had quite a few chuckles. However, at other times it felt over the top and immature. This is another thing that I think might work better for the intended audience of this book.

I don’t want this to sound like this was a terrible book in the slightest. Spellslinger was at times highly entertaining, but ultimately it was lacking in a lot of areas that are important in order to take a story from just okay to great.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I started this series at some point, but DNF’ed for the same reason: it was too YA for me, which resulted in kind of a bland story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. David S says:

      Yeah I tried the 2nd installment “Shadowblack” but just couldn’t get into it. Oh well, can’t win them all.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I find it fascinating how much this one clicks with some people (Corey/GrimdarkDad and I really enjoyed it) and others bounce off hard! I agree there are elements that are simple, but characters like Ferius Parfax went a long way in helping this book worm its way into my heart. To each his own!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David S says:

      I did like Ferius a lot, but yeah like you said it ultimately wasnt for me personally. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. @lynnsbooks says:

    I also enjoyed this one but I think it probably is one of those books that just simply won’t appeal to everyone.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David S says:

      Yep agreed! I tried to make that as clear as possible in my review so I hope it was haha


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