Hello humans! As some of you will have noticed, I’ve been reading my way through the Spellslinger series since getting a review copy of the second book, every single time I go in not knowing what to expect and every time these books have grown in my estimation. I was, therefore, ready and excited to read the fourth book in the series Soulbinder.
Spoilers ahead for the first three books, but spoiler free for Soulbinder.
Kellen and his murderous squirrel cat, Reichis, are on their own. They’ve heard rumour of a mythical monastery, known as the Ebony Abbey. It’s a place that outsiders can never find – but Kellen is getting desperate. He’s been told that the monks inside the Ebony Abbey know more about the Shadowblack than anyone else and that they even know how to cure it.
Then Kellen and Reichis are separated and for the first time, Kellen must face the world alone – and venture deeper into shadow magic than he ever knew he could.
I have to say, this was the book that had all of the potential to make me cross. Essentially, it took away all of my favourite characters and forced me to pay attention to Kellen, a character who I have never disliked, but who is all too often too much of a teenage boy for me to like him. Page by page I got more nervous that I was actually going to have to pay attention to Kellen’s plot, I was understandably nervous.
But you know what? He pulled it off! In a book series so known for its side characters, this book pulled me around to not only tolerating the main character but actually liking him. If you’d told me, before reading Soulbinder, that I would ever type that I would have laughed at you. But Kellen has a whole lot of growth in this book and has lost some of that gormlessness that made me dislike him previously.
It helps that there are the additions of many new characters who fill the gaps left behind by others, bringing new life to the story, so those who, like me, enjoy the fast-paced, quippy dialogue will not be disappointed.
I enjoyed the fact that the metaphysics of the world starts to be explored in more detail. Kellen is finding himself at the heart of a lot of major incidents but because it’s taken four books to get there it doesn’t have that whole ‘chosen one’ vibe that is incredibly annoying. It makes sense for these events to happen, despite them being quite far-fetched when you think about them too hard.
The hook of these books is that they’re about being a trickster in a world of very powerful people. This necessitates a lot of problem-solving, of talking your way out of a situation and generally outsmarting people. This is possibly one of my favourite things a book can do. I loved it in Name of the Wind, I loved it in Red Sister and I loved it in Soulbinder.
If you haven’t picked these books up yet, I highly recommend that you do, they are huge amounts of fun but they do have some serious ideas at their heart. The way this book plays with the idea of friendship and family and the idea of belonging is actually very powerful. I know I cry at everything but I did shed a tear or two towards the end. I highly recommend starting at the very beginning, but this book was a lesson in how characters can grow if given the chance, so if you hate Kellen in book one then stick it out – he gets much better.
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? What other series has transformed your opinions of a character? Let me know in the comments below!