SPFBO 8 FINALIST REVIEW: Tethered Spirits by T.A. Hernandez

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I just have to say as side note that this has been one of the most fun years I’ve had as a judge, and one of the highest scoring, if not the highest scoring years I’ve ever personally had. Regardless of how the averages shake down this year, I think the judges are having a great year given how high the board is right now.

I think this will be for people, once again, who like classic epic fantasy set in a secondary world with a lot of magic. There’s a lot of classic epic fantasy elements in it like curses, wizards, witches, buttloads of magic, haunted castles with skeleton guards, walking armor, just the whole nine yards.

So we have three POVs and they definitely are not all working towards a common goal. We have Amar, an immortal who doesn’t want to be nor does he understand how he got to be that way since every time he “dies” he has his memory resets when he inevitably comes back to life.

We have Alieda who is trying to capture Amar to bring him back to her brother, convinced that somehow his immortality can help save her brother from an incurable wasting disease. She’s tethered to a spirit that looks like a talking dragon.

Then we have Kasari who is also tethered to a spirit and has magical abilities but because of past trauma and ptsd issues she refuses to use it. She feels very guilty about something in her past and refuses to use magic at all, even in life and death situations.

So, these three set off across the world for different reasons. Amar wants to find out who cursed him with immortality and figure out how to break it, he doesn’t want to be this way and would very much like to get to the bottom of everything. Since he starts off the book by dying and wiping his memory he actually is kind of an asshole for the first third of the book. He’s very anxious because he can’t remember a thing about himself or his life, including these strangers claiming to be his friend. I do get why he was so standoffish but he was really a jerk during the first third of this book and it made it difficult to like him. As he came around though and started to be less of an ass I did really come to like him as a character and he was probably my favorite

Alieda has good intentions but she’s just in the wrong. We do get to meet her brother and come to understand her point of view, but as she chases down Amar she starts torturing people who he’s visited to try and get information on where he’s going next and what he was doing there. These characters she’s hurting are often times people you’ve spent page time with and enjoyed and it definitely casts her in a more villainous light. At the same time Amar is becoming less of an asshole and more enjoyable to read about, Alieda is going in the opposite direction becoming more unlikable. One could argue that she’s actually a decent person and she’s being led astray by her spirit, who is like a little devil sitting on her shoulder telling her to do the cruel/wrong thing. But, in the end it’s always her decision and she keeps going and gets more frantic and panicked as the book goes on as her brother’s illness gets worse.

Then we have Kasari who is just a broken person at the start. She’s got serious trauma issues and I honestly didn’t feel strongly one way or the other with her. I didn’t dislike her but she was so meak at the start she was overpowered by these other two POVs and I kind of forgot about her, without her spirit I may have found her chapters boring. I really liked her spirit she’s tethered to unlike the one that’s tethered to Alieda, he’s always mentoring her to do the right thing and is very sweet and encouraging.

There is a lot of travel time in this, Amar is going from one wizard/witch to the next trying to get any information on what kind of curse he may have. Curses have been outlawed in this world for many hundreds of years, which hints that Amar could be really, really old. We do get to figure out all that stuff by the end and I really enjoyed it. The last third of this book really sold me on it. I usually have a hard time with travel heavy books but in this one I didn’t because there was so much time spent in each area where the characters stopped. It didn’t feel like one problem rushed through to get to the next as can sometimes happen with travel stories. Also, all the characters stopped off at “home” and so there was a build up of character development and not just plot development with these travels which really added a good depth to the characters, at least for me.

Overall I’d recommend this book to anyone who thought this review sounded interesting, lol. I think it has broad appeal, there’s a lot of magic and fantasy elements and even though it’s part of a series and there’s more to come many things were resolved and answered and so it felt like a satisfying read unto itself.


  • Plot: 12/15
  • Characters: 12/15
  • World Building: 12/15
  • Writing: 11/15
  • Pacing: 10/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Enjoyment: 7/10

Final score: 75/100 or 7.5/10 for SPFBO