Published by Amazon Publishing on March 21st, 2014
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Buy on Amazon
Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.
Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.
Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.
Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?
Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.
Prior to reading the book, I didn’t have a very high bar set. Basically, I was in the frame of mind of: “Please just be sorta okay.” See, my run with the witch novels hasn’t been fantastic, as of late. Salt & Storm was alright, but repetitive. The Witch Hunter left me so disappointed. I kept telling myself to avoid the book, since witches were coming into fashion, and some of the novels were anything but. However, the cover was charming and a few of the updates tempted me until I caved and requested the ARC.
So we’re back on track with awesome witch novels! Chime was a huge redeemer, and now I have this lovely little gem to add to my witch shelf!
Boarding School. Okay. I am very much a sucker for boarding schools. A fantasy boarding school is even better! While I wish that there was a bit more of the classroom setting, the concept and the setting was very wonderful, and I love to see the small changes as the seasons rolled by (Samhain, Yule).
Character-Driven Storyline. I love me some character-centered novels. As I have discovered, I will forgive a lot of story sins if I end up falling for the people within the novel. With this book, it was the people that drove the story. Bianca’s hot-and-cold attitude towards lifting an old curse from her family added the perfect touch of realism to her character and the overall story arc. When she starts to scheme, she is gung-ho and ready to face down the challenge. However, when the challenge comes around and she must face the violence of her mission, doubt seeps in. During one part of the story, she completely confesses that she is just a scared, desperate 16-year-old girl. What teenager wouldn’t quake in the face of honest-to-the-gods danger and possible pain and death?! When I was sixteen, I couldn’t even put a contact in my eye!
However, what pushed Bianca was plausible – the love for her family, and her fate that was set upon her shoulders at a young age. I could accept the reasons, and I wasn’t left with a handful of questions, such as WHY did she take it upon herself, and why did her family put her up to such a task? The author takes the time to build up the story and allows the reader to discover the logic of the story.
The secondary characters were pleasant. None of them stood out, but they were pleasant. I can see a lot of room for growth, since this is an ongoing series. I have to say that I really liked Leda. Camille just…unnerved me, but she was a supportive friend…sometimes. The teachers shocked me the most, with emphasis on one in particular (read it – you’ll understand!”
Romance. NONE. THANK YOU.
Magical Trials = *HEARTS*. Trials and competitions are just plain badass. The trials are not a booklong event, but the events did make up a large portion of the novel.
Chillin’ with the Villain. I’ve already stated this over and over: I love a love-hate relationship. this also includes when the MC must work close with the antagonist. I think it comes from my love of DBZ.
However, I didn’t expect such a twisted, slightly horrifying relationship between the teacher and the student. Miss Mabel…cold blooded is way to kind. I was really expecting myself to hate her, because evil just for the sake of evil is kinda bland, but Cross did her own black magic, and I ended up with a villain that I hated to love, and vice versa. Mabel is a wonderful example of corruption and power, and the mindgames she played with Bianca took the story to a whole new level. Would I have liked this book without the twisted character? More than likely not. Mabel made a pretty nice story into one hell of a punch.
Set Up. I wanted a bit more about the magic and other such things from the world. I also wanted a bit more from the mythology. Bianca narrated about the history of Antebellum, where the witches drove out the mortals from their world, but I felt a bit lost at times. In one part of the story, crayons are mentioned, and even though I looked it up and found that the pastels have gone back for centuries, it just felt a bit odd to see them in the book. Also, it seems that witches do not start training until they reach adolescence, yet Bianca has some background with magic prior to schooling. Is this a rarity? Not allowed? Special circumstance? Why has no other witch child tried this? Did I miss this?
Animal House. My final thoughts are on the treatment of animals. Here was my reaction right after reading the novel: “There was almost an issue with animal cruelty, it is hard to explain. More like, there is some mild imagery of animal cruelty, but no actual animals were harmed.”
I’m so happy I read this novel. I was expecting something above entertaining, but if I am to be honest, I was sucked right in. I loved the completely unbalanced and egotistical head of the school. I loved some of the twists. I loved Bianca’s authentic representation of teen girls. And I loved watching this story becoming unfolded.