This book was given to me byStories Untold Press in exchange of an honest review.
The minute the words— student, magic and school — compile into a sentence the mind immediately pictures a magnificent stone castle in the middle of nowhere in England and a boy with a lightning scar. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is considered a modern classic, and anything remotely similar may be accused of having a sameness. However, the concept of a school where magic is its main curriculum and a boy with a destiny is not new. Novels such as “A Wizard of Earths” by Ursula K. Le Guin (1968) and “The Worst Witch,” by Jill Murphy (1974) both follow a similar concept — the boy who lived is not an original idea per se, but the way the story was told was what made it memorable.
“The Crowns of Croswald” by D.E. Night follows the same suit.
When Ivy Lovely is forced to leave the house she grew up in, she finds herself enrolled in the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and power the Croswald’s gems. There, Ivy starts unpacking a mystery around the school – paintings awaken, forgotten things are remembered and a dark magic brews. Through her studies and her adventures Ivy learns secrets about her past and the world she lives in.
The world of “Croswald” is rich with magic, mystery and adventure, both new and familiar. Ivy is a 16-year-old girl who thought she was nothing more than a scaldrony maid. When Ivy is exiled from her home in Surry for saving a little scaldrony dragon she is immediately pulls herself together and tries to move on— only to be swooped up by a magical cabby that takes her to a magical school. There, she begins her studies as a Scrivenist.
Lovers of YA and fantasy will swoon over Night’s magical creation. I know I did. She builds a complex fantasy world where pixie-like creatures are used as a light source, a magician’s ultimate goal is to be knowledgeable and ghosts are the executive chefs to every meal. Following common motifs and lore that come with magic school shenanigans — Ivy’s adventure is still unique and she stays true to her beliefs (which is always nice — not being swayed by the random “love interest”).
Honestly, you will be won over by the intricate magic system and world revealed throughout the story. Unfortunately, this brilliance in the world building may sometimes be lost when common young adults tropes force themselves through the plot (*cough* random forced romance *cough*). There is also a strange blend of middle-grade and young adult in Ivy’s personality, in moments you feel that she is 12 or 13 in other she feels 16 years old.
While this blend may be strange it does not take away from Ivy’s story arc and wonderful character development. She, like any new-to-school-in-YA girl, struggles making friends and staying out of trouble. Ivy also teaches the audience that only persistence will get you what you want — even if it means getting your roommate locked in The Forgotten Room for several hours, which is a really nice message.
Overall, “The Crowns of Croswald” was a solid start to the Croswald series and I look forward to reading the sequel.