Elsie Camden’s world is a place where magic is real, and it is a commodity. If you’re born a wizard, you’re in the market for good quality spells of all sorts. Want to update a client’s décor? There’s a spell to change the color of their drapes. Are the servants sneaking out after hours? A spell placed on a doorknob will put a stop to that. You can even buy a spell to hide annoying wrinkles around milady’s eyes and straighten her crooked nose. Wizards are kept plenty busy applying spells of all sorts.
But, one thing a spell-casting wizard can’t do is to remove a spell once it’s placed. For that, another sort of wizard is required. They are the spellbreakers, and they are rare. Elsie Camden is one, but she doesn’t advertise the fact since she’s an unlicensed spellbreaker, and that makes using her talent a criminal act.
An underground group Elsie calls the Cowls keeps her busy with odd jobs, sneaking into places she doesn’t belong to break spells. She’s told that these jobs are for the benefit of the everyday folk being held down by elite society. She’s happy in her work, doing good deeds for pay.
But one day she’s caught in the act by Bacchus Kelsey. Desperate to keep her secret, she agrees to help Bacchus remove a variety of aging or bothersome spells around his estate. As she works off her debt, the two begin to form a bond… and to her surprise and confusion, she thinks she’s starting to feel something more for him. To be honest, I found the romantic overtones to be more of an annoyance than a plus, and I could have easily done without that twist.
The story kept my interest all the way through. It’s written well, and told in a descriptive style I found appealing. The grand finale of the book really picks up the pace, and is vivid enough to leave the reader breathless. The conclusion is satisfying, but leaves a few tendrils of plot undone, no doubt to be picked up in the second book in this “duology” which I’ll be reading very soon – Spellmaker.