Arc Review of The Spider’s Friend by M. C. Burnell

I received an ARC* in exchange for an honest review (No Spoilers inside). Happy release day: August 19th, go and grab your copy now!

*Advanced Reader´s Copy

‘When a smiling spider reaches out to embrace you…’

About The Spider´s Friend:

  • Expected publication: August 19th 2022
  • Format: e-book and paperback (327 pages)
  • Genre: Fantasy, science-fantasy
  • Language: English


Book one of a trilogy, The Spider´s Friend is a tale of unlikely friendship in a setting with science-fantasy vibes.

Murdered shamans. Tortured gods. A shadowy villain behind it all. Maru knows the culprit is one of his brothers but not which; a week ago, he didn’t know he had a family. An army of zealous bison waits in the wings, preparing to invade, and the only person with any solid information is a talking plant who can’t get the humans to listen to him.
And the worst thing is?
Before he can worry about any of it, Maru has to save the lying magician who conned him into getting involved in this.

Humans don’t have this world to themselves; it’s filled with other sentient species. Dhashere, the civilization at the center of the story, began its life as an empire, dominating other peoples in the region. But Dhashere doesn’t have exclusive control of its own territories: there are people living in its skies, its sea, excavating cities under its feet. People it doesn’t understand, who take no interest in its doings.

I’m not going to tell you more about this world because part of what makes it special is how startling it is. I’ll simply say: that jellyfish in the inland sea? It’s not just there for decoration.

M.C. Burnell

What I liked: It was easy to get fond of the characters. Maybe the most likeable was Maru, whose innocence and purity of heart allowed him to remain faithful to his beliefs.

The trees! I didn´t know what to expect about them, would they be the sweet onlookers watching their insects live on them and complaining about bird droppings every now and then? Would they be Ent-like creatures shepherding smaller plants and pondering about earlier ages?

None of the above. With so many sentient and thinking creatures, I was smitten with the littlest detail. Oh, it´s so difficult to describe this novel without dropping spoilers, but I´ll think twice before approaching a donkey from now on… and jellyfish, they´re already haunting my dreams.

This novel had a strong start. Since the beginning I knew there weren´t going to be happy rainbows and dancing fairies all over it.

I´m a fool for these tropes when they are well written:

  • Hidden enemies and political intrigues. Everyone seems to be hiding something. As the story evolved I discovered how the antagonist is never the one we think. I like that nowadays the villain is not the obvious creepy character wearing the black robes anymore.
  • The hidden powers. Isn´t it great when a character discovers that they have a special gift?
  • A discovery journey. We see the characters grow as they travel trying to find themselves, and sometimes they find uncomfortable truths, too.
  • Magic schools, forbidden magic, prophetic dreams… Magic was so intertwined with the world. I delighted in the idiosyncrasy of people who used their magic and the means of using it, especially as many thought their way was the best. I take my hat off.

The scenery: an extraordinary world in many ways, the characters traveling in wild terrain, with colorful descriptions and new words for me to learn. (Did I mention that I love learning new things?) The unique way of describing characters made me chuckle. Can you imagine someone being compared as a needy wet puppy? (not her actual words, but the feeling remained every time said person showed up inside the story)

What I didn´t like so much: I must be a bit of a masochist, I hate it when a character dies, and even if I got the occasional crocodile tear, I just had to squint and keep reading. I know, not a real complaint, in fact, this novel was my cup of tea.

My general opinion: This was a book that I couldn´t put down. Even if real life wanted to get in the way, I had my phone on kindle mode making me company while I cooked, did the laundry, repaired pet toys, etc. As the book advanced, it became darker: some mysteries solved, some got even more ominous, it kept me on the edge of my seat.

Highly recommended if you´re a fan of dark fantasy with a sprinkle of Game of Thrones on it. I´m looking forward to reading the sequels,

You can read an exclusive excerpt from this book here:

How I got this book: The author asked on twitter for ARC readers, I was happily surprised to be accepted, as the release day was coming close, but Meaghan was very kind to give me a copy to review.

About M.C. Burnell

We can start with the basics: Chicago transplant, hugely fond of big cities and my family, putting that J.D. to use writing novels about magic in alternate realities. Delve beneath the surface and you fall headlong into an ocean of fascination with essentially everything. Words toward the top of the list, along with ancient cultures and myth, which explains the attraction to fantasy inasmuch it can or should be explained. But also law, science, and faith; those tools we use to understand how we fit. Lover of food, of cooking and fine wine. Lover of books. Lover of art, of nature too often seen only on sidewalks and in parks. It’s nice to meet you: I’m interested in most everything, and it just might be that one of my stories speaks to you.

You can find her online at:





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