Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Spellbinder, by John Booth


It's 1860 England, and magical ability is a matter of national defense.  A special military force is comprised of people with various levels of magical ability, but Britain's most prized possessions are the Class A Spellbinders, the most skilled soldier.  Which is why a teenage Laura is shocked to learn that she, in fact, is a Class A Spellbinder, and will be sent to a school in a top secret location, both for her own protection and to receive training.  She is accompanied by her new friend, Tom, a skillful Healer.  It becomes apparent upon their arrival at the school that all is not as it seems, and they are in grave danger.

Magic.  Steampunk.  British military.  Espionage.  Teenage hormones.  What a combination.  I loved every minute of it.  John Booth once again creates a vivid storyworld with his revision of the Victorian British Empire as it might have been with the help of magic.  I am beyond impressed with the rich, detailed backstory Booth weaves in order to set the story up, particularly because he does so in a way that does not detract from the plot.  This is the first book in a new series, and I am so excited to see where the author goes with this series.

I found the characters to be just as vivid, and felt, quite quickly, as if I actually knew them.  It was thrilling to me to see such strong female characters written by a male author.  I liked seeing the surprising twists that occurred with some of the characters throughout the book, and it made me excited for the possibilities in the later installments in the series.

There are obvious similarities between this book and the Harry Potter series (especially the later Potter books), but there is a lot of unique content to the book as well.  I think fans of steampunk and fantasy fiction will appreciate the series.  While some themes are mature and adult, it seems no cheekier than many other young adult books I have read, and would be appropriate for most teen readers.


I received a review copy courtesy of the author.


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