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Publisher's Summary

A world of enchanted injustice needs a disenchanting woman in the newest fantasy series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

The orphaned Elsie Camden learned as a girl that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those, like her, born with the ability to break them. But as an unlicensed magic user, her gift is a crime. Commissioned by an underground group known as the Cowls, Elsie uses her spellbreaking to push back against the aristocrats and help the common man. She always did love the tale of Robin Hood. 

Elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey is one elusive spell away from his mastership when he catches Elsie breaking an enchantment. To protect her secret, Elsie strikes a bargain. She’ll help Bacchus fix unruly spells around his estate if he doesn’t turn her in. Working together, Elsie’s trust in - and fondness for - the handsome stranger grows. So does her trepidation about the rise in the murders of wizards and the theft of the spellbooks their bodies leave behind. 

For a rogue spellbreaker like Elsie, there’s so much to learn about her powers, her family, the intriguing Bacchus, and the untold dangers shadowing every step of a journey she’s destined to complete. But will she uncover the mystery before it’s too late to save everything she loves?

©2020 by Charlie N. Holmberg. (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Skillful vocal characterizations enhance this fantasy audiobook set in a magical Victorian Britain…While the plot is complex, both narrators evoke the sympathetic protagonists so convincingly that listeners will feel invested, as well as excited for the sequel.” --AudioFile magazine

“Those who enjoy gentle romance, cozy mysteries, or Victorian fantasy will love this first half of a duology. The cliffhanger ending will keep readers breathless waiting for the second half.” --Library Journal (starred review) 

“Powerful magic, indulgent Victoriana, and a slow-burn romance make this genre-bending romp utterly delightful.” --Kirkus Reviews 

What listeners say about Spellbreaker

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting read/listen

I have to say, I really enjoyed listening to this book. I’ve already got the preorder saved for the next book in the series.

Normally, I don’t write reviews unless the book is really good or really bad. Although this wouldn’t be a book I’d normally give a review one way or another I felt I needed to based on other reviews.

Most previous reviews stated how horrible the male reader is. I almost didn’t get this book because of those reviews. However, not only am I glad I did, I totally disagree with the previous reviews.

The male reader is good. Not the greatest I’ve ever heard but not nearly as bad as it’s been blown out to be. My ears didn’t bleed every time he began to read. Actually, I thought he did quite well with the tone of other male voices and the main male characters voice especially when having to slip into an “island” dialect.

I guess I felt like Joel Froomkin was getting a bad shake and I wanted a review for future readers to have a different perspective.

And, no I don’t know this man, or getting paid to write this. Js.

69 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Joel Froomkin should find different work

I feel bad for Elizabeth about leaving 1 star on the performance, as hers is excellent. But Joel’s narration is so bad that I can’t increase the score and allow him to coast on a better co-narrator.
His reading is stiff and jilted. His emphasis increases the first few words of each sentence, then drops to nothing for the remainder of the sentence — regardless of length or content. His dialogue is almost unintelligible.

I am a big fan of Charlie N Holmberg. I can’t express the disappointment I felt when the second chapter started.

Read this one. Skip the audio.

45 people found this helpful

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Intriguing

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
In Victorian England, there are two kinds of wizards: those rich enough to make spells and the rare few born with the ability to break them.

MY TAKE
I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed it. It was narrated by a man and a woman. Elizabeth Knowelden did a great job; Joel Froomkin was just okay, but it didn't take away much from my enjoyment of the story.

The tale itself was intriguing. Holmberg does a great job with her magic systems, and Spellbreaker was no different.

Elsie Camdem's magical ability of taking apart spells is against the law--but only because she's not registered. Abandoned as a child, she spent years in a workhouse until at the age of 11 she accidentally broke a fire protection spell and the place burned down. The law is severe against unregistered people, so Elsie can't admit what she can do. But she has a purpose, something given to her by the "cowls" (a name she gave the people who send her on secret missions to undo spells that she's told are being used to injure or subjugate poor people).

It's on one of those that Elsie's caught by Bacchus Kelsey, who's visiting England to gain his mastery in magic. They work out a deal: he won't turn her over to law as an unregistered Spellbreaker, and she will work with him around his host's estate to undo negative spells.

There's a lot going on in the story, including the murder of magic users, a search for Elsie's missing family, and a growing trust between her and Bacchus.

I enjoyed the twists. There was one point where I was getting irritated by Elsie's naiveté and ready to stop reading when everything is turned upside down. Then the action really takes off. There's resolution for the main storyline but not for another part. I'm looking forward to the next book.

4 1/2 stars

24 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Book, Not Great Narration

Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Knowelden does a great job on the narration, but Joel Froomkin is absolutely awful. His voicing of Bacchus is forced and over the top, as well as jarring in terms of cadence and inflection. His voicing of the female characters is inconsistent and overall frustrating. I wish they had only used Knowelden for this audiobook.

That being said, it’s a good book with a good story. If you enjoyed the Paper Magician, you’ll enjoy this for the same reasons. It’s a quick, easy, read; not terribly challenging, but nice for a mental break and some happy fantasy.

If I had to do it over again I’d buy the physical book instead of the audio, but I’d still buy it nonetheless.

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved the story, but not the male narrator

Many reviews have mentioned the male narrator’s performance, and while it didn’t ruin the book for me, I do agree that his voice and accents were unpleasant. He didn’t really match what I thought Bacchus should be, and sounded more like a caricature of these people than anything else. His vocalization of the female characters was atrocious. The female narrator was great, and I wish the producers had just stuck with only her instead...or found a male with a deeper, more melodious voice.

As for the story, it was highly engaging and I listened all the way through. The magical world is fully developed and understandable, and there are unexpected twists that keep things interesting. However, if you’re impatient, wait until the second book comes out before starting this one...at the end I found myself yelling at the app to tell me more. It is NOT a cliffhanger (so you will be satisfied), but it is clear that this is not the end of Elsie and Bacchus’ story. Needless to say I am anxiously awaiting the next one.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I love the story

I love the story, Charlie N. Holmberg is one of my favorites in this genre. The female narrator is perfect but I can do without the male he was awful and I found myself wishing his parts would hurry to get back to the her she could have read the whole book alone. Still great book.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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enjoyable when the female voice reads

honestly, I hated the male reader. I hated his accents, how he spoke, his voice, everything. but when the female voice spoke I enjoyed the book. kind of predictable, but still enjoyable

6 people found this helpful

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Lovely story, horrible male narrator.

I enjoyed the rhythm and story lime though it is a cliffhanger. the female narrator was charming but I actually laughed out loud when I first heard the male narrator and almost shut it off but I was already invested in the story. Not only was his accent atrocious, he sounded twice the age of his female counterpart which just felt really off. If you can get past his performance it's worth a listen!

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Please re-record this with a different male lead!

Good story, but every time the male narration by Joel Froomkin started, it was so bad I wanted to turn it off. Please re-record this, he is ruining this book. The female narration by Elizabeth Knoweldon was great.

4 people found this helpful

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How did Joel Froomkin get this job?

The story is very good, and if you enjoy Holmberg’s previous work you will enjoy this book.
Elizabeth Knowelden delivers a magnificent performance and really allows the listener to sink into the story.
Joel Froomkin is absolutely awful. Wooden, jarring, and distracting. Just terrible!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Suzanne Macaulay
  • 11-01-20

male narrator is awful

Good book but hard to listen at parts - the female narrator is engaging and well suited. The male narrator has questionable accents, struggling to hear the content in his bits as focusing on this.

5 people found this helpful

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  • samyanther
  • 11-07-20

Please change the male narrator hes awful

I started reading this book on my kindle and got quite into the story. My eyes get tired easily so I use whispersync with audible. Female narrator is easy to listen to- no problems. The male narrator is bloody awful . Its stopped me listening to the book all together and im going to have to finish it by reading it. If I'd have bought to audio book first . I would have given up at chapter 2 because he's annoying and you can hardly hear what he is saying with the terrible accents .

4 people found this helpful

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  • Isolde
  • 02-01-21

Completely Unlistenable - Needs new male narrator

I'm having to return this audible book. I can't tell you whether the story is good or bad. 😳 Beautiful narration by Elizabeth Knowelden. I wish she'd narrated the whole book. However, Joel Froomkin is terrible. The intonation is completely wrong, with emphasis on every second word in a sentence. It was like listening to a text for English as a Foreign Language, rather than the narration of a story. Very disappointed as Elizabeth really drew me in at the beginning. Totally impossible to listen to the male narration. 😔

2 people found this helpful

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  • Seli B
  • 01-10-21

Good start to a new series

Elizabeth Knowelden was great as always. I don’t what accent the male voice was supposed to be but it needs sorting before the next book, it was awful and killed concentration at times, shame because it was a great story! Looking forward to the next- hopefully with a better male voice

2 people found this helpful

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  • MandyJ
  • 05-10-21

Great story - love Elizabeth Knowelden

Loved this book and Elizabeth Knowelden brought the characters to life. Sadly Joel Froomlin's confused and jarring accents for Bacchus was difficult to ignore. I almost gave up but the story was so compelling. I can't wait to listen to the next book and am delighted to see a new male narrator has been cast. That being said, I'm not sure why two narrators are needed as the storytelling carries itself.

1 person found this helpful

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  • V. Edwards
  • 10-07-21

gripping and magical

I loved the story. I looked forward to listening to it every day after work. can't wait for the next one.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • R. Powell
  • 08-26-21

Good story, terrible delivery

The two readers doesn't work. The male one sounds like a computer and his accents are all over the place and difficult to follow

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-23-21

Poor performance by Joel

Joels performance was very poor, almost quit the book. Lucky he didn't have as much reading as Elizabeth.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • cuteasabutton
  • 08-04-21

Great story, disappointing narrator

I loved the idea of this story, set in Victorian London but with lots of magic. The plot was interesting, I loved how the magic was described and the fact that there were those who could make magic and those who could break it. Elsie makes a great protagonist and the discovery of her background and the unraveling of secrets kept me listening happily.

However, the narration was really disappointing. The sample only included the female narrator who was pretty good - I always listen to the samples to see if I'm going to be irritated by the way a book is read and I thought I was on to a winner. But as soon as the male narrator began in chapter 2, he really grated on my nerves. Terrible accents (that actually made it much harder to distinguish which character was speaking) and Star Trek style overacting - so many odd pauses all over the place!

I kept listening because I wanted to hear the end of the story, but found myself tuning out of the annoying bits. I think I'll read the sequel rather than go through that level of irritation again!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Logan81
  • 07-31-21

mixed bag

Good story. The female reader is good but the male voice is awefull, so distracting.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Hayley March
  • 04-01-21

great story and one good narrator

I enjoyed the story and the female narrator but found myself skipping through the sections with the male narrator. it was so irritating.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Matgood Toothews
  • 02-22-21

Great story but why 2 narrators!? just need Elizab

The story was great and the female narrator very good but the male narrator had odd intonation and inconsistent accents, which was very distracting. Also, I didn't understand nor appreciate the reason for two narrators. Please consider rerecording with only one narrator, and let it be Elizabeth Knoweldon.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisa
  • 02-07-21

Enjoyable book.

Great book. Both narrators were good. The male narrator seemed true to the character's station and didn't annoy me at all.