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The Birr Elixir (The Legend of the Gamesmen Book 1)

The Birr Elixir is a near-legendary potion, which only the elite of herbalists are able to mix – or can find the ingredients for. So when the captain of the local Comet team, Hand of Victory, comes into the herb shop asking for an energy potion, Marra, a bare one year into her apprenticeship, makes the first energy recipe she sees in her dead mentor’s recipe book, never realising the significance of the recipe. When that same potion helps the Hand of Victory team to achieve an impossible win, they rescue Marra from a beating from her abusive keeper, along with his mysterious, unconscious captive, and set off on a journey that will take them to the edges of the continent and beyond.

Jo Sparkes’s writing is a pleasure to read, keeping the story moving along briskly – from the unknown, unconscious man the Hand of Victory rescues along with Marra to the descriptions of the Comet matches, this is a fast-paced, enjoyable read, spiced with vivid descriptions. While the underlying story initially comes across as a typical maiden in distress plot, The Birr Elixir actually offers much more depth, with a victim who grows into the strength to defy her opressors and work with the men who rescued her to prevent a much larger injustice. The larger themes in the story complement the adventure and add layers of richness to the read. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, including younger readers.

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