The breathtaking sequel to the critically acclaimed Spellslinger!

by Sebastien de Castell

Author of the Greatcoats series and Spellslinger

Could You Survive As An Outlaw?

Four months after fleeing his own people, Kellen has discovered he’s an even worse outlaw than he was mage. It doesn’t help that his only allies are a swaggering card player and a thieving squirrel cat.

Then he meets Seneira, a blindfolded girl who isn’t blind, and whose secrets get them caught up in a conspiracy of magic, blackmail and murder. Now Kellen must find the mage responsible before the entire frontier falls victim to the mystical plague known as the shadowblack.

This witty western from a master of magic storytelling will enchant both YA and adult readers. Listen to an exclusive extract below!

  • A Guardian Best New Books Pick
  • Financial Times Summer Roundup Pick

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Get Your Copy!

Spellslinger is available in hardback in the UK, Australia, and most Commonwealth countries. It's coming out in various other languages and countries soon.

  • Coming to a country near you in a dozen different languages!

Published by Hot Key, Available from…

Forbidden Planet Amazon UK Waterstones

The Story Behind Shadowblack

I distinctly remember the excitement I felt as a seventeen year old leaving home for the first time. Finally I’d be away from my family. Finally I’d be free! Of course, within a week I felt lost, confused, and homesick. 

Kellen has every reason to want to be away from his people – and from his parents in particular. And yet . . . there’s always that tether pulling at you, because freedom isn’t just walking away from something – it’s finding somewhere you want to be, and most importantly, people you want to be with.

Praise For Shadowblack

  • Playing with familiar ideas in a delightfully original way is Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger, which I devoured in two days . . . is one of the best young-adult novels I’ve seen in a long time – larky, clever and slick.

    Literary Review Britain's Best Loved Literary Magazine
  • Spellslinger is the first of a series which fantasy junkies will devour with relish.

    The Guardian Best New Books Supplement
  • Magic with a Wild West flavour, served with flair.

    Financial Times Summer Roundup of Books
  • Spellslinger . . . has cliffhangers, pace, humour, life lessons and a memorably feisty squirrel cat.

    The Sunday Times Book Reviews
  • Spellslinger is a riot from start to finish. It’s buckets of fun, and I can’t wait to read their next adventure.

    Speculative Herald Fantasy Reviews
  • Spellslinger is like Firefly with magic and card-throwing in place of guns and traditional weapons. It’s a three-man Guardians of the Galaxy (with a sarcastic squirrel-cat in place of Rocket Raccoon). I loved it so much, I have re-read it twice since my initial read – and felt the same heart-racing excitement each time. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

    Readings Australia Australia's Own Since 1969

Excerpt From Chapter 2

We have both a text version and an audio version recorded by the author of the excerpt for your reading or listening pleasure. Narration by Joe Jameson

Getting punched in the face hurts a lot more than you might expect.

When somebody’s knuckles connect with your jaw, it feels like four tiny battering rams are trying to cave in your mouth. Your own teeth turn traitor, biting down on your tongue and flooding the back of your throat with the coppery taste of blood. Oh, and that crack you hear? It sounds a lot like what you’ve always imagined bone breaking would sound like, which must be why your head is already spinning a quarterturn clockwise, trying to keep up with your chin before it leaves the scene of the crime.

The worst part? Once your legs recover their balance and your eyes flicker open, you remember that the devastating opponent beating you senseless is a skinny freckle-faced kid who can’t be more than thirteen years old.

‘Shouldn’a stolen my charm,’ Freckles said.

He shuffled forward, causing me to lurch back instinctively, my body having apparently decided it preferred the embarrassment of collapsing in on itself over the risk of getting hit again. Laughter erupted all around us as the crowd of townsfolk who’d come out of their shops and saloons to witness the fight began placing wagers on the outcome.

No one was betting on me; my people might be the best mages on the continent, but it turns out we’re rubbish in a fist fight.

‘I paid you for that charm,’ I insisted. ‘Besides, I put it back in the case! You’ve got no cause to –’

Freckles jerked a thumb up to where Reichis was perched on the swinging sign outside the pawnshop, happily inspecting the silver bell on the charm. Every time Freckles hit me, Reichis rang the bell. This is the sort of thing squirrel cats find hilarious. ‘You think I spent all night picking that lock just so you could give the charm back?’

‘You’re a damned thief,’ I told the squirrel cat.

Freckles’s face went an even brighter shade of red; he must’ve thought I was talking to him. I keep forgetting that other people don’t hear what Reichis says – it all just sounds like a bunch of grunts and growls to them.

Freckles gave a yell and barrelled into me. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground with the wind knocked out of me and my opponent pinning me down.

‘Best get on your feet, kid,’ Ferius Parfax suggested in that frontier drawl of hers. She was leaning against the post where we’d tethered our horses, black hat dipped low over her forehead as though she were taking a nap. ‘Can’t dodge when you’re flat on your back.’

‘You could help, you know,’ I said. Well, that’s what I would have said if I could’ve got any air into my lungs.

Ferius was my mentor in the ways of the Argosi – the mysterious, fast-talking card players who went about the world doing … well, nobody had yet told me exactly what it was they did. But Ferius was supposed to be helping me learn how to survive as an outlaw and stay clear of the bounty mages who were hunting me. She did this mostly by dispensing such brilliant axioms as, ‘Can’t dodge when you’re flat on your back.’ That one annoyed me almost as much as her calling me ‘kid’ all the time.

About the Author

Sebastien de Castell

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Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way. Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.