Book Review: THE LAST SPELL BREATHER by Julie Pike (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in white on navy below a
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for THE LAST SPELL BREATHER: title in white on blue above a fox on a book

Spell Breathing does not come naturally to Rayne – she loathes the hours of practice, the stacks of scrolls, and the snapping mud devils that cover her mothers precious spell book.

But it is spell breathing that keeps her village safe from the dreaded monster curse that plagues their world. It is ancient powerful magic, but, as Rayne learns to her horror, it is also fragile.

In one clumsy move, the magic that keeps them safe is broken, her village is plunged into danger, and an incredible adventure begins . . .

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE LAST SPELL BREATHER is a lovely debut that I wouldn’t have stumbled across if a friend hadn’t lent it to me. It’s a criminally under-discussed book!

Being a book worm, I loved the magic system based on words – and that the disaster Rayne must undo occurs because she damages a book! Of course horror and misery abound when a book is damaged – and I wish I lived in a world where magic exists to undo it. The way the words are used in the magic was so much fun. I loved the way they physically interacted with the world, probably best shown in the second chapter with the ripening spell.

It is a book about the power of words – not only the good they do, but also the harm they can cause. Spells going wrong creates a plague that disfigures and sickens people. The desire to have the power over words is the antagonist’s motivation. The tag line on the cover is so true:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but… that’s a whole different story

Rayne is living under the pressure of people’s expectations to become the next Spell Breather, which of course doesn’t help. I loved her journey into accepting her role – coming to love it.

There is an argument between Rayne and her friend Tom at one point that did feel a little forced. It is a bit of an issue they tussle over, but it came over so fast and helped the plot to have them storm off that the whole incident felt contrived. It was almost as if the author felt there was a tick list of “things to put in a MG book: leads squabble then realise they need to own up to their mistakes”, so shoe horned it in.

I hope Julie Pike writes something else soon!


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