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The Last Spell Breather

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  73 reviews
A stunning fantasy debut, enter the unique world of the Spell Breathers. 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 anci ...more
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2019 by Oxford University Press
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  354 ratings  ·  73 reviews


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Rachel Bridgeman
Jul 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: july-2019, abandoned
I received my copy as a gift via the Waterstones Bloggers Collective , grateful thanks to publishers OUP.
My intention was to read it with my 9 year old, after reading it first, the blurb looked great, the cover design is lovely, but I just couldn't connect with it unfortunately.
The story starting with the book of spells and Rayne and her mother's roles as spell breathers just kept flashing me back to Harry Potter and the book of beasts.
The conflict between duty, honour and rules is explored nice
...more
Sinéad O'Hart
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm grateful to the author and to Oxford Children's Books for allowing me to read a proof of The Last Spell Breather - and what a read it was. A charming, gripping, expertly paced and fantastically well written debut, this book was a joy from start to finish (yes, even including the Grotesquery, the scary 'monsters', and the fantastically evil baddie, Mali!) The book follows Rayne, a 12 year old girl whose mother is a 'Spell Breather' (a person with the power to command magical written spells, a ...more
Isa Lavinia
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
TW: ABLEISM

I'm giving this book 1.5 stars (rounded up to 2) only because I loved the idea behind it, it's incredibly original, and I did love the grotesques and the grotesquery. However, this book never felt real to me, at 256 pages long you'd expect more development, but the typeface is huge and the plot is all action with a few info-dumps scattered about.

This is supposedly a middle grade book, so I guess for 8-12 year olds, but I found it more appropriate for 5-7 year olds. It's very simple
...more
Dani (Dani Reviews Things & Love in a time of Feminism)


Like a lot of people, I've been having a hard time reading. I've tried turning to romance, audiobooks, even those bite-sized book apps. As I was browsing through free and 99p Kindle books (I went through a phase in April of buying loads), I came across The Last Spell Breather. I don't usually read middle grade, but the cover was pretty, and the blurb sounded really interesting. I thought maybe, just maybe, a middle grade would be nice and easy on my stressed out brain. And when I say "nice and e
...more
Bev
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: believathon-2019
An adorable, magical adventure. I've never come across a magic system quite like this. And I'm a sucker for a cute fox. 4.5 stars. ...more
Belles Middle Grade Library
Another unputdownable read! I finished the last 52% in 1 sitting. I kept saying, “1 more chapter”..& then the chapters kept ending where it was IMPOSSIBLE to stop reading there! Lol Rayne & her mom are spell breathers. They breath spells onto people to help them in some way. Rayne has never been very good at it, or even wanted to do it at all. She loathes every aspect almost. But spell breathing is what keeps her village safe from the monster curse that plagues their world. It’s very powerful ma ...more
Manon
Mar 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed it, though the book lost me a couple of times.
Asha - A Cat, A Book, And A Cup Of Tea
I loved 99% of this book, but can't recommend it, because there is an absolutely appalling disablist scene at the end where a character claims that a paralysed arm is 'penance' for their villainous behaviour. I would hate any child with a disability to read this and be told 'you can't fix anything with one hand' or be made to feel that they in some way deserve their disability or are being punished by it. I'm shocked this made it through edits, and it's a real shame as the rest of the book is ex ...more
Livy
Mar 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book but I feel like it could have been even better if some things had been explained to us throughout the book and the end confrontation had been drawn out slightly more.

The characters were well written and I really liked Rayne as the protagonist and Tom as her companion and best friend. I really enjoyed watching how the two of them grew as characters over the book, being changed by the journey they make to the Great Library and the adventures they have on the way. Howeve
...more
(Ellie) ReadtoRamble
2.5 stars

I really wanted to get on with this book and love it, but unfortunately, there were just too many issues and inconsistencies that annoyed me and stopped my enjoyment of the story.

I found the world to be an interesting one but we never get much information about it, same goes for the village where Rayne and her mother live. I was fascinated by the magic system at the start of this book, but as it went along, it just got more and more confusing. Not a chapter went by where I didn't have
...more
Katie Clark
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last Spell Breather is a lovely adventure story that I'd recommend for children in upper primary school as the heart of the book is about overcoming fear or fixed ideas. Rayne really grows into herself and realises what she's capable of. The world is imaginative and fun. I loved the grotesques and the concept of spells backfiring and creating monsters (a clever twist on careful what you wish for/the dark edge of fairytales). A fun read reminiscent of the classics! ...more
Abby
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming book full of character. The main character was difficult to warm to at first. However, as the plot continued, I grew to like her and how she dealt with the problems around her. My class will definitely enjoy reading this book and I'm sure it will become a firm favourite in the classroom. ...more
Jenny Caddick
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant,compelling and fantastical story which holds a very new,powerful type of magic within.

12 year old Rayne is an apprentice Spell Breather,due to learn the unique skill from her mother who helps,heals and protects the villagers of Penderin. Rayne is less than confident,not the most attentive student and resents her destiny. When the protective barrier her mother had placed around the village is breached ,her mother suddenly leaves on a mysterious quest. Left alone,Rayne takes charge of th
...more
Stephanie
I like the fantasy elements, The Grotesques are amazing and I loved Frank the Fox. I didn't like the fact that the plot was dependent on the mother not explaining things to Rayne... seriously, just simplify the truth to a point a young girl can deal with and add more information as she gets older. Being told you have to do something because your parent says so, without reasons or explanations leads to rebellion and in many ways this made the book predictable. ...more
A Severs
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very innovative with a great ending and a couple of good little twists. The book starts off, fairly unusually for a children's books, with a rather dire problem which must be solved - for much of the story it does seem desperate and almost unlikely that things will be resolved. A very unique brand of magical method is explored really well - a world where very few people can create a spell AND cast it. This makes for some interesting dilemmas and drives the plot well. As for themes, love is at th ...more
Mary Judy
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book casts its spell from page one. It crackles with imagination and a well-paced plot filled with twists and surprises. With lyrically woven story-telling and wondrous attention to detail, the reader is sent into a dream-like world that is both fantastical and strangely real. Rayne is a marvellous character; young, energetic, flawed and determined. Care is taken with each character, allowing them to shine as individuals. Flawless writing, a unique and enchanted landscape, a touch of humour ...more
Katie
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to enjoy this book and I loved the idea that was original of a Spell Breather. The plot was different and I was curious enough to keep reading but half way through the book I started to find it hard to follow as more characters were added and more twists and turns. Maybe it was because I was an adult reading a childs book but I was quite glad when I got to the end. A good ending but very confusing on route.
Sadly not one I will be recommend
Simon
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this a 3* because I really liked the plot. The adventure was great, loved the magic element of the floating words during the spells, that was really nice and original.
The thing that somewhat spoilt it for me was the characters, particularly Rayne and Tom. They didn't resonate with me at all, I thought they were under-developed and a boring. I did like Frank though!
...more
Harriet Muncaster
LOVED this book and the unique take on the magic system. The world felt so real to me and I loved the atmosphere! Julie Pike is brilliant at world building and I thought the spell book protected by the grotesques was very imaginative. (Loved Frank the fox too!! He was a great character) Very much looking forward to this author's next book. ...more
Bekka
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great fun

This book was great fun and had a great idea for its magic system. Kids will love this adventure, it's full of different characters with different strengths, abilities and weaknesses to carry the story forward, whilst being full morals, spelling practices and learning life lessons in the perfect way for this age group.
...more
Frances
I usually really like this kind of fantasy but I didn't take to the heroine at the beginning of the story, which is why it doesn't get a better score from me. However I would have given 3.5 if available. I got more into it as the story went on and there were some really good bits so give it a go. ...more
James Haddell
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julie Pike puts a uniquely post-apocalyptic spin on fantasy, providing a beautifully fragile yet courageous heroine to lead us spellbound through a wonderful tale of monsters and mystery.

Magic is central, but this book is really all about the power of words - to prosper or to plague.
Beth Knight
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful young mg book. Sparkling and sweet.
Hawraa Alsaleh
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fox sitting on an open book was the first thing that got my attention before reading the title. I have a thing for foxes. The illustrations on the book kind of give away some of the story line if the reader is good at interpreting them. Even if the reader finds the events mundane and predictable the topics discussed in the story are really good. The first most obvious is the importance of words, their meaning and the their effects on oneself and others whether they were bad or good. Other to ...more
Yvonne
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
12 Year old Rayne is learning to be a Spell Breather and is an apprentice to her mum. They live in Penderin, a village hidden behind an invisible barrier that keeps them hidden from the world outside. The world is one where monsters roam. Raynes mother has to make a journey out of the village and leaves Rayne in charge of the Spell Book for safekeeping. It is not very long before there is an accident, the only person to help is her mum. So Rayne decides she will have to go after her.

This is a wo
...more
Steph Warren
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author and Amazon’s Vine Programme. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Just like all of the great fairytales, The Last Spell Breather is both magical and terrifying.

The whimsy of breathing magic into words is balanced by the horror of spell books that bite, boneless guides and watching ones friends and neighbours turn into grotesque caricatures of the very things you tried to help them with.

Rayne is a very sympathetic charac
...more
Christina Reid
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been wanting to read this so soooo long! Finally, I got my hands on a copy and devoured it eagerly!
This book starts with one of the best opening lines of any I have read recently.
"The spell wouldn't stay on the shelf".
This introduces us to a unique magic system which I found myself intrigued in knowing more about. The spells are copied from a magic book that is protects by little biting grotesques (I imagined them like moving, mini gargoyles!) and then 'breathed' into life by a spell-brea
...more
Katina Wright
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the first pages of ‘The Last Spell Breather’ I was immersed in the intriguing magical world where twelve-year-old Rayne lives. Rayne is a reluctant Spell Breather apprentice to her mother, the valued and loved Village Spell Breather. Rayne admires her mother’s skill, knowing that her ability helps the villagers’ health, their productivity thriving and most importantly keeps them all safe from the monster curse that threatens their world. But Rayne resents the long hours of study that keeps ...more
Mark
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like to think I can pick out a good book, and anything over a 4* for me is in the right area. Whilst I have had to give this a 4* it is near 4.6. What would have made it a 5*? Well pictures would have really set it off a treat, and though the cover is delightful the chapter headers leave a bit to be desired.
It is however, storywise, a little gem that developes and grows on you. Maybe the pace could have picked up more, and sooner, but all said and done it engaged and portrayed a believeable wo
...more
Adam Murphy
The Spell Of Reading - The Last Spell Breather:

A magical lyrically-woven story,
In a land that is otherworldly
What it’s like to be an outcast society,
And in the end trying to overcome our anxiety
Feels like a homage to The Sorcerer's Apprentice,
With a wonderful hero defeating a world of menace
Focuses on a mythical quest,
Where a ton of morals are addressed
It flourishes the mystery & power of words,
But takes it a step further when they become blurred
Explains the character flaws & paradoxes
With encha
...more
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“school last month.’ Rayne hunched her shoulders. ‘If you must know, Mam’s got me practising on plants in the garden.’ Yesterday she’d breathed a pruning Spell over a hydrangea. Half the words had landed on its leaves like they were supposed to, the rest had ended up over the well. She’d spent the next hour fishing out the bucket, so Mam could breathe a mending Spell over it. But she wasn’t going to tell Tom. He’d only scoff. Closer to the hall, Rayne began to recognize people in the queue. Ron and Edge the cutler’s apprentices were at the back, laughing and hugging sacks of metal tools. Old Flo was bundled in a floral shawl, bent over her stick, coughing. At the top of the steps, by the double doors, a group of women rocked and shushed crying babies. Mam ran lightly up the steps and waved a greeting. Rayne loitered at the bottom. Tom shook his head. ‘Most of them don’t need whatever it is they’ve come for. Ron and Edge are just lazy, they could sharpen those tools themselves.’ ‘Mam doesn’t judge, she helps everyone.’ ‘Not me,’ said Tom, tapping his pocket. He turned away and disappeared in the crowd. Rayne plodded up the steps, conscious everyone in the queue was staring at her. For the first time in her life she wished more people felt the same as Tom about Spells. Inside the hall, voices burbled around the rafters as people queued patiently to see their Spell Breather. Mam took the” 0 likes
“Library.’ Dark shapes under the mud’s surface wriggled towards Mam’s fingers. As she lifted the cover the dark shapes bobbled into horned heads. They pushed through the dirt. Rayne clasped her hands together. Tiny mouths cracked open, revealing sharp white teeth. They raced towards Mam’s fingers and bit into her soft skin. Rayne scrunched her eyes shut, sure those bites must hurt, even if Mam said she didn’t feel them. ‘Your fingers are bleeding!’ ‘Hush now. It’s only a scratch.’ Mam took a handkerchief from her skirt pocket and dabbed her fingers. The cloth smeared with streaks of brown and red. Rayne peered under the cover and frowned. ‘Mud devils! Why do you let them bite you?’ ‘You know why. They’re tasting my blood. Making sure it’s me. And don’t call them devils. They don’t like it.’ ‘What are they then?’ ‘Grotesques.’ That didn’t make them sound any better. ‘The Grotesques do an important job making sure only you and I can open the book,’ explained Mam. Rayne sat on her hands. ‘What happens if someone else touches it?’ ‘Bad things. That’s why I keep it locked in the chest.’ Mam turned the pages. ‘Now look, each page has a different Spell” 0 likes
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