Series: Journals & Journeys: Book One
Author: Justin Schuelke
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 322 Pages
Category: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: I may have never rolled the dice in a single game of Dungeons & Dragons, but I appreciate the imagination that went into bringing this story and its characters to life. The bond between the characters and their magic (for lack of a better description and in the interest of not giving too much away) was pretty cool, and the YA fantasy world impressed in its scope and the politics and the intrigue.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Trapped in a game. Worse, they’re not even level one.
When Lucas invites his friends over to play a new fantasy role-playing game, Journals & Journeys, they expect to encounter elves, zombies, and sorcerers. They expect to visit fairy forests, decrepit ruins, and stunning palaces. They expect adventure.
They don’t expect it to be real.
Grythica may be a land of fantasy, but it’s a world of terrible danger, too – and one where humans are killed on sight. And while Lucas, Sawyer, Violet, and Caleb should have at least had each other for support, they’re separated upon crossing into the realm. Alone, armed only with their wits, they scramble to acquire the magical powers they’ll need to survive. It all starts with leveling up.
Can they win out long enough to find each other and devise a way home, all while hiding what they truly are?
Review: Think DnD with a side of Jumanji and you’ll get the gist of where Spellsworn goes when Lucas sits down with his friends to play Journals & Journeys, a game in which the players are assigned roles and given various tools to help them through their quest. What was supposed to be a simple afternoon of gaming, however, quickly becomes a real and dangerous and daunting mission to save a world where magic exists and the folks who populate it are nothing like these kids have ever known outside of their imaginations. In fact, in the world of J&J humans are not only unwelcome, they’re exterminated, making this a battle for survival while they learn about themselves and the skills they’re acquiring as they level up.
Lucas is separated from the rest of his friends when he lands in this strange and foreign world. It doesn’t take long for him to find Sawyer, though, and let’s just say things could’ve gone better. They fight a battle with a troop of the undead, and they’re forced to do it while still unfamiliar with the tools and weapons they have at their disposal. It’s a trial by fire in some literal ways, especially for Lucas, and while they both perform heroically, to expect them to come out of the battle unscathed wouldn’t make much sense. Let’s just say they do not.
Amongst all the action, suspense, and danger is the reality of Lucas and Sawyer’s strained friendship and all that entails. They went from best friends to barely speaking after Lucas came out, and while it’s not something Sawyer intended to happen, he also didn’t know how to support Lucas and stay friends with him without everyone else thinking there was something more than just friendship between them. While this sounds bad for Sawyer, he really is a good guy with a lot to work out on his own, which plays out quietly against the backdrop of everything else happening. It was either the best of times or the worst of times to sort through his feelings. Whichever the case, I think he and Lucas will still be sorting a bit.
Justin Schuelke earned his way onto my “will read anything he writes” list with his Incarnate Accounts series, and while I’ve never rolled the dice in a single game of Dungeons & Dragons, I appreciate the imagination that went into bringing this story and its characters to life. The bond between the characters and their magic (for lack of a better description and in the interest of not giving too much away) was pretty cool, and the YA fantasy world impressed in its scope, the politics and the intrigue, and in the truth that absolute power often corrupts absolutely. Not being quite sure whose side some of the characters were on kept me involved in the story, and I look forward to getting to know everyone better as the series continues.
You can buy Spellsworn here:
[zilla_button url=”https://books2read.com/Spellsworn” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]