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TPG Reviews: The Seventh Spell, by Danielle Shipley (Wilderhark Tales #3)

February 2, 2014

The Seventh Spell is quite different from earlier books in the series, but is excellent all the same.

(Also, slight spoilers for those who haven’t read the first two books. Don’t say you weren’t warned ;))

A witch’s attempt to cast one spell too many casts everyone touched by her previous spells into chaos. Scattered throughout each other’s pasts, Sula and Edgwyn, Villem and Rosalba, and the rest of the magic’s affected have a single chance to break this last enchantment before their “happily-ever-after”-s cease to have ever been.

SeventhSpell

My rating: 8/10

* ARC recieved for free in exchange for an honest review.

After a magical spell goes horribly wrong, all of the Anarchwitch’s earlier enchantments are recast. Denebdeor’s royals must now bring the afflicted princes and princesses together, or else remain enchanted for the rest of their lives…

Compared to the first Wilderhark Tales books, The Seventh Spell differs in a number of ways. It’s rather darker, for one thing, particularly in its opening chapter. It also follows several groups of characters at a time, resulting in far more points of view. Finally,  this book is where the Anarchwitch truly became a character in her own right, as opposed to the mere plot device she started out as back in The Swan Prince. This latter development surprised me, but very much in a good way, and I can’t help but wonder how this character will evolve in future instalments.

Another difference involves the style of storytelling on display. The earlier books often focussed on interactions between characters, with only a handful of overt obstacles appearing along the way. Here, however, there is far more action. Denebdeor’s royal family find themselves in all kinds of difficulties over the course of the story, which really kept the pages turning for me.

The above-mentioned changes do, sadly,  leave less room for character development. New characters were hit particularly hard by this; while I enjoyed reading about them, particularly Gant o’ the Lute and Aurabella, it would have been nice to see them grow some more. That said, Ursula gets more development here than in either of the previous books, and this for me was the highlight of the entire novella: the reader is given a good hard look and Ursula’s various flaws, and you can’t help but feel good when she reaches her epiphany.

The quality of writing, by the way, is as good as ever. Danielle Shipley really has a talent with the written word and reading her work is always a treat. As before, the novella maintains a jovial tone without ever seeming silly, making for a smooth and pleasant read.

I do have a couple of criticisms, though neither are major. I’m still not quite convinced by the interactions between Ursula and the Anarchwitch, for one thing: Ursula simply seems a bit too ready to go to the witch, given the trauma the witch caused her earlier in life. My second criticism is that the story is perhaps a little too short; there are several characters who don’t really get the time they deserved, as already mentioned and lengthening the story would have solved this.

Dispite the above, I enjoyed this novella very much and wholeheartedly recommend it along with the rest of the Wilderhark Tales series. I’m glad I had the change to read this, and I very much look forward to reading future works by this author.

 

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