A new YA fantasy series
bursting with tricks, traps, magic
and a talking squirrel cat!

by Sebastien de Castell

Author of the acclaimed Greatcoats series

What would you give up for magic?

SS Diamond 1When you’re a Jan’tep initiate approaching your sixteenth birthday, you’d better be ready to prove your worth as a mage. Either that or work some kind of miracle.

But Kellen isn’t counting on either. He knows he needs a few tricks up his sleeve to avoid total disgrace and life as a Sha’tep servant. He just has to find the right tricks.

So when a sassy, straight-talking Argosi wanderer arrives in town, Kellen is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Ferius Parfax is strong and worldly, an exile who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries.

She’s difficult and unpredictable to say the least, but with the hand that’s been dealt to him, Kellen knows he’ll need all the help he can get…

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

Share The Magic!

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 Spellslinger

Everyone wants to believe that we’re special; that we’re born to fulfill some great destiny, that we have secret powers just waiting to be discovered.

But what if life doesn’t work that way? What if, instead of waiting for your gifts to come, you have to find them– that you have to make yourself special rather than just waiting for life to do it for you?

Spellslinger is about coming face-to-face with that choice, and discovering what comes next.

Praise For Spellslinger

  • 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 20

We have both a text version and an audio version recorded by the author of the excerpt for your reading or listening pleasure.
Intro and outro music courtesy of: Smoking Gun Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

“Do you have a name?”

He chittered something at me, then, seeing the confusion on my face, repeated it. “‘Reichis’?” I asked.

“Close enough.” He hopped off the window sill and onto the table then crawled onto my chest, his claws tapping against the fabric of my shirt. I had to stop myself from trying to shake him off. I’d seen what those claws could do. “So,” he said, peering at me with those red, beady eyes. “We should probably get the negotiations started.”


He let out a breath which I caught full in the nostrils. It was disgusting. “You sure you ain’t—“

“I’m not simple,” I said, irritation temporarily overcoming my anxiousness. “I’ve just never…negotiated with a squirrel cat, that’s all.”

“You don’t say…” he sat back on my chest, leaning back on his haunches as he glanced around my mother’s study, his eyes pausing at every shiny metal instrument. “Nice place you have here,” he said, and brought his paws up to just below his whiskers and starting clacking his claws together as his thick, bushy tail twitched excitedly.

“Why are you doing that?” I asked, suddenly suspicious.

Reichis seemed surprised. “Doing what? I’m not doing—“

“You’re tapping your paws together.”

“No I’m not,” he said, and immediately brought them back down.

“Yes, you were. I saw you. What does it mean?”

He hesitated. “It’s…it’s something my people do when we’re, you know, intimidated by a superior intellect.” He looked down at me. “That’s why I’m going to free you in exchange for only four…five of these little trinkets you have here.”

“Five?” I’m not sure why the number bothered me. None of the items in the room belonged to me anyway, but I had the feeling he was trying to con me.

“It’s a good deal, kid. Trust me.” He started blinking his eyes at me in a strange, repetitive pattern. “You want this deal, kid. You want to say yes.”

My experience with squirrel cats was admittedly limited, but there was a connection between us that made me recognize what he was doing. “Are you trying to mesmerize me?” I asked.

“What? No.” He stopped the blinking. “I don’t even know what that is. Mesmerizing? Never heard of it.”

“You’re a terrible liar,” I said.

That seemed to genuinely offend him. “I’m an excellent liar,” he growled, baring his teeth at me. “You tell anyone otherwise and I’ll—“

He was interrupted again by the chittering from outside.

“Gods damn it, leave me alone,” he said.

Squirrel cats have Gods?

He started chittering back to the other animal out the window and for a while I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then he turned back to me and grunted. “Fine. Look, kid, since technically you set me free from those other skinbags, I’ll get you out of your current predicament for free.” He turned back to chitter out the open window. “Even though I saved his stupid sister from bonding with that sick mutt, which is how I got nabbed in the first place.”

The sounds of movement in the house drew our attention. I realized then that the moon was coming up fast, and soon my parents would be coming in to begin on the next band. Oh spirits of the first mages, I prayed, please don’t let them do it to me again.

“Hey, kid,” Reichis said, suddenly sniffing around my face. “Put a dam in that river. We’ve got work to do.”

“I’m not crying,” I said.

He gave his little huh-huh-huh laughing sound. “Now who’s a terrible liar?”

Before I could reply he crawled over to the strap holding my right wrist. He started working at it with his teeth, pulling for a few seconds on one side then moving to the other, the whiskers on his face tickling my wrist even as the hairs on his tail got in my nose. I was afraid I’d start giggling like an idiot but in less than a minute he had the first strap off. “Think you can do the other one?” he asked. “I’ll get started on the ones on your ankles.”

I reached over and started undoing the strap over my left wrist. I was a little embarrassed that it took me longer than it had taken him.

“Okay,” he said, when all four restraints were off me and he’d jumped back onto the window sill. “You’re free, kid.” When I didn’t move, he started making a waving motion with one paw. “Go on, little bird. Fly away. Fly away now.”

Squirrel cats, it turns out, are sarcastic arseholes.

About the Author

Sebastien de Castell

Facebook Twitter

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.