Spellraiser by Tim Hawken, Review: Experimental YA fantasy

Tim Hawken’s Spellraiser is a modern YA fantasy presented in an experimental 100 chapter micro-story format with graphical illustrations by Sofia Behnke. Read my review.

Spellraiser Synopsis

This new-release book uses an experimental format to tell a cracking YA Fantasy story. 

If you like Shadow and Bone, The Cruel Prince, and maybe The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, this should be right up your dark alley. 

Made up of 100 chapters of exactly 100 words each, Spellraiser is a tale of murder, mystery, spells, and possession. 

And, it’s all complemented by the epic art of Sofia Behnke (aka Behnsi) – 10 full-page colour images. 

Why launch via Kickstarter?

An experienced literary agent told the author: “This is really exciting, but no traditional publisher will touch it because they won’t understand it. It’s somewhere between a novel and a comic but isn’t really either. You have to prove the concept.”

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Drama, Graphic

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Book Review

I am not typically drawn to the young adult genre. But, I am always drawn to quality writing. Having been thoroughly impressed by Hawken’s novel If Kisses Cured Cancer I was eager to read his latest offering, Spellraiser.

Quoting directly from the title’s Foreword:

Spellraiser is made up of 100 chapters of exactly 100 words. While a 100-word micro story is called a drabble, I’m not sure what a novelette like this is called. A rabble, maybe?

The result is not poetry but it has a similar feel. This narrative’s short, clipped sentences have that same intensity of meaning. That same precision word of selection, and at times a rhyming musicality. And, as I’ve come to expect from Hawken, there is much dry humour, clever phrasing and plays on duality of meaning for keen-eyed readers to admire.

But, and most importantly, the literary experimentality in no way impedes the delivery of a highly engaging modern young adult read. Hawken’s taut narrative cultivates tension and the short chapters and sassy character dialogue propel the story along at a cracking pace.

With their dark and brooding colour palette and shadowy modern graphic style, Behnke’s full-page imagery evokes well not just the teen mood but also the sinister and timeless nature of the magical legacies at play at Saint Lucius’ Secondary College.

I consumed Spellraiser‘s 100 chapters in one entertaining sitting.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Get your copy of Spellraiser from:


I have also since enjoyed reading Tim Hawken’s new novel Thrill Switch, a confronting fast-paced techno thriller.

About the Author, Tim Hawken

Tim Hawken is a literary hooligan from Western Australia, the author of the wonderful novel If Kisses Cured Cancer, and whose writing focus is now dark sci-fi and fantasy. He is a 2-times winner of the AHWA’s Flash Fiction Competition, has been shortlisted for an Australian Shadows Award and likes to add a twist of wicked humour to his work. His debut Hellbound Trilogy was a cult hit, which garnered attention from Hollywood, including being pitched to Netflix by producers for a series adaptation.

Tim posts a 100-word, art-inspired story most days on Instagram (@tim_hawken). You can find more about him and his work at timhawken.com

About the Illustrator, Sofia Behnke

Sofia Behnke is an illustrator from the USA whose clean style and eye for lighting has seen her gain a solid following on social media. First recognised for her fanart by authors like Holly Black, VE Schwab and Leigh Bardugo, Spellraiser is Sofia’s commercial debut.

This review counts toward my participation in the 2022 Aussie Author Challenge.

* My receipt of a review copy from the author did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.