**I voluntarily read and reviewed a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
My review, as always, is as spoiler free as possible!
This is the fourth book in Annette Marie's latest series 'The Guild Codex: Spellbound" and by now it's safe to say that the author has won me over yet again with another favourite; A favourite series, a favourite set of characters, a favourite set of friendships and a favourite world. I already knew that I loved this series but the books have gone from strength to strength and this has been the best one yet, and not least because I finally have some answers about one of my favourite mages.
Annette Marie has always been able to build the sorts of worlds that I enjoy the most: incredibly complex and obviously well thought out and yet revealed simply and slowly to the point where you have no idea how you have learned so much about the world and the way it works but if you tried to explain it to someone else it might take you more words to convey than the entire book you just put down. And it's not just the places and societies; it's how the world actually spins; where people earn their livings and how hard they work to attain the positions that they have; who polices the world and an overview of the politics. It gives you far greater insight when you can infer character motivations and in doing so, builds more complex plots and immerses you more fully into the experience.
There's also something wonderful about these characters, who, at first glance could seem to be a cursory Urban Fantasy characters but even from the first chapter of the very first book you will realise that there's far more than meets the eye.
The main character is Tori Dawson - a red headed, hot tempered Sagittarius who sometimes acts before she thinks. She's also fiercely loyal and would jump headlong into anything for those that she loves.
Aaron Sinclair Mythic Class - Elementaria: Pyromage Another redhead to add to the excitement yet also steadfast with his friends, forgiving and adaptable. Basically an adorable cinnamon bun.
Kai Yamada Mythic Class - Elementaria: Electramage A more mysterious character, Kai's background is cryptic however his friendship with Aaron and Ezra is clear. He's the coolheaded one, someone who doesn't stumble or hesitate and he will always do what it takes.
Ezra Rowe Mythic Class - Elementaria: Aeromage A calm and serious and most mysterious guy, Ezra might be my favourite of the three mages. His secret however is deep and dark and now what Tori is hiding from him and the others? Well that could impact the whole team.
I adore the friendships in this entire series and just how human all these characters are; they have their own pasts and experiences and insecurities and all of these things influence their motivations and effect their decisions.
While the trademark humour and snark of the series is still alive and well in this instalment, there is definitely an air of seriousness and the stakes are higher than ever before. There's an intensity that is almost palpable and characters and friendships are tested in a way that they haven't been before.
Tori's doubts about the guys and their friendships and using denial as her coping mechanism lead to a confrontation that I was actually happy to see. Even though she is our POV character, we know that Tori is far from perfect and is allowed to make mistakes that any human could make and she is called out on it by her friends. There are many great interactions throughout the series but it was in this pivotal moment that I saw them double down on their friendship and our four musketeers have become some of my favourite fictional friends.
If you haven't checked this series out yet, do yourself a favour and have a look for it. It's fast, fun and a wild ride from start to finish.
While this is an episodic series where each book wraps up it's own plot, there's plenty to look forward to with the next book, "The Alchemist and an Amaretto" and even more new characters to be intrigued by (anyone else excited for Robin Page?????). October has never seemed so far away....