Book Reviews,  Magical Realm,  Short Stories

Book Review: Spellbreakers

Spellbreakers (The Library Attic Collection Presents, #1)Spellbreakers by August Niehaus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author August Niehaus launches her new series, “The Library Attic Collection Presents” with Spellbreakers, a collection of a half-dozen stories. It reminds me of a Tardis, as it’s much bigger than you might think a 25K word book would be on the inside.

I was delighted to learn that each short story was fully developed, with engaging characters supported by solid worldbuilding. And every tale is unique – no two settings, circumstances, or cast of characters are alike. The entire book can easily be read in an evening, or you might choose to enjoy one story a night to draw out the experience. I’ve never had much self-control, so I didn’t need a bookmark. I read it all in one gulp… I may have been spellbound.

I’ll talk a little about each story, in hopes that you’ll be tempted in. Once you’ve unleased the spell (or as a mundane might say, ‘opened the book’), I think you’ll easily be pulled right along to the end.

All Hands on Deck
There’s always that one girl in high school that you could swear is a demon, isn’t there? But what if, all kidding aside, one of your classmates really IS a demon? That’s the problem that Hannah, along with her friends Priya, Leo, Ruby, and Malik, need to deal with. But how can a handful of regular high school kids trap a demon? With Hannah at the helm, the group comes up with what they hope is a cunning plan.

It’s exciting to watch this wacky, occasionally snarky scenario play out to a surprising conclusion. The author does a brilliant job of reminding us what it’s like to be a teenager, as the clueless students grapple with a rather big problem. And without the help of any grown-ups, their demon-catching methodology is, well, unique.

Into the Night Go the Foxes
In a silky-soft slightly erotic tale of playful seduction, two mischievous sisters of Aphrodite may need to learn a lesson. But until then, try not to fall under their oh-so-tempting spell, if you can.

Someday, Someday
Little Jess tempts fate at Miners’ Falls. Is she saved, or doomed? To me, this story played out like a macabre dance, each step going places I was reluctant to follow. But I had to, as the dance was also innocent and compelling.

The Chessboard
Unlike the other stories, this one has an urban, gritty feel. I could almost smell the CoinNation pawn shop, with it’s requisite horrible boss. You wouldn’t think things could go from bad to worse just by the arrival of a chessboard, but you’d be wrong. Shall we play a game?

I love a story that gives me crisp visualization, and this one did the trick. My personal mental imagery of the progressive growth of a fairy computer was quite enjoyable! Hent, the owner of a fairy computer, attempts to help his sister. But good intention can lead to questionable decisions. Oh and by the way, when was the last time you cleaned out your computer?

Tea for Deux
I have a feeling the author wanted to save the best for last, and while I do lean towards “All Hands on Deck” as my favorite, it’s got competition from an utterly loveable couple named Shirley and Vivette. They are a blissfully happy middle-aged married duo that love their life in Willowglen, Minnesota. They keep birds, they listen to public radio, and more than anything else in the world, they want to host a tea party.

So far, so good, right? Just sink into country life and enjoy the beautiful descriptions of all the little details that fill a day. Be charmed by the ladies doting, nickname-laden relationship, and don’t worry about any sort of complications that might earn them a place in this story collection. After all, what could possibly go wrong with just planning a small town tea party?

I enjoyed every story in this collection. A few endeared me more than others (Shirley and Vivette, and those high school kids) but I found every story to have worth. The variety of ways to express the spell breaking theme kept my attention from start to finish. I’m looking forward to more editions in the Library Attic Collection.

This review was first published at SciFi.Radio

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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