Spellbound is right up there with my most entertaining novels so far this year. Blake Charlton puts the pedal to the metal from the get go, and doesn't let off until the last word is written. The book really has a bit of everything, interesting magic system, cool and fun characters, great action, some comedy, drama, romance, tragedy, horror, good dialogue and banter, etc. It's simply a fun and entertaining read from the get go, and I'm sure few will be disappointed, if any. Spellbound is the sequel to Charlton's highly praised debut, Spellwright.
Though there's always excitement about the second book in the series after a good introductory novel, particularly when it's the second book of a new author, the reality is that it often doesn't measure up to expectations. That's not the case here. It's quite evident that Charlton has become a better writer since his debut, Spellwright, and the sequel for all intents and purposes is a better novel than the first one. The prose seems more skillful and confident, and the author simply let himself loose in the world, not holding back on the limits of imagination.
As just mentioned, Charton really lets loose in this installment, and the only way I can come up to describe the book it's as an epic fantasy prosepunk. We got airships, flying kites, structures, constructs, organisms, dragons, medical tools and procedures, well the whole world really made up of some sort of prose. Which makes for some really distinct sentence structure in the narrative, which I think only a skillful writer is capable of pulling off. So in all, a very cool fun prose.
My only complaint is that it at time becomes a confusing read, the spells are a bit hard to follow often enough and I don't think it's really clear who's who, what's what as far as opposing factions go. So, towards the end of the battle when it became a bit of a free for all, I wasn't really sure who was fighting who. What cities are allies, which aren't, and all those fun political stuff. But the battle I'm particularly talking about was more of a side-plot thing which really wasn't the focus of the book, so it really didn't hamper the experience. By the end of the book though, when all is said and done I think a more clear picture of the world and the alliances are settled, so I wouldn't worry much about it. It might just be me too, being a sucky reader.
Spellbound takes place about a decade after the events of Spellwright. Our favorite characters return, though some of them at a diminished capacity. But that's not a problem, we get to introduced to a new variety of characters, in particular to our new heroine, Francesca, which might just be the best character in the series so far. Very interesting and tons of fun too.
We find ourselves in a new city where the demon Typhon has put under his control, and we got Nicodemus trying to get his emerald back to save his mentor. Deidre, being possessed by Typhon, is scheming and fighting Typhon's control by undermining his plans at the risk of being discovered. Lastly, we have Francesca, a skillful doctor who has been manipulated into killing a patient and then is left to her own devices as she learns Typhon has in mind to use her for his own nefarious plans. She's in a city where she can't trust anyone, not even an old lover recently arrived, and who might just be her only means to get out of this mess. The city is about to go into a civil war, we have all the factions, Halcyon and anti-Halcyon, making their moves in the background further complicating matters.
The novel is really about monsters, external and internal; both identifying and defining. It's about trust, acceptance, and overcoming one's limitations and disabilities. I think the acceptance of disabilities, and adapting to once disability theme was done really well. Also, with having a doctor protagonist, we're subjected to quite a few scenes of medical discussion and procedures. Blake Charlton is a doctor, so he really shows off his stuff here and it comes off quite enthusiastic and interesting.
Spellbound is another winner by Blake Charlton, and I'm highly recommending it to just about anyone. If not mistaken, the series has been marketed recently as a Young-Adult, but I think the book fits right at the boundary between YA and Adult; I recommend reading Spellwright first though. The book is a real page turner which I'm positive you won't regret reading.
Buy Spellbound in Hardcover from The Book Depository.
Make sure to visit Blake Charlton's website for more information.