Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night

The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night
Release Date -  July 21, 2017
Publisher Website - Stories Untold
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret...

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.
A book about a young girl who gets to go to a magic school. Sounds familiar right? The Crowns Of Croswald is heavily inspired by the Harry Potter series. It's filled with magic, wonder at the discovery of a new world, and a chosen one who is thrust into the unknown. It manages to branch off enough to avoid feeling like a direct copy, and is filled with some twists that make it worth the read.

The fact that we have a female protagonist is wonderful. She is our chosen one, and I appreciated how resilient and self reliant she is. We also have an antagonist that is female. It will be amazing to see these two battle it out, especially as Ivy continues to grow her powers. The finale, if done right, could be a stunning battle between two bad ass female characters which has me entirely on board. The female characters have the opportunity to grow and become more complex. I hope they next few books focus not just on the world building, but character development. I am interested in them, but want to see some depth from them.

My only character complaint is the ages they are given. We're told that Ivy is sixteen throughout the novel. The character, however, doesn't read that way. I would have put her around 12 or 13 years old based on her characterization. It feels like a novel meant for older middle grade readers, and so perhaps it is just that element being present throughout, but it is the one misstep I had with the characters as they all read younger than their presented ages.

The world building is one of the more fleshed out aspect of the story. There is a complex system of royals, scrivenerists, and magic. That combined with the Halls of Ivy school create a setting that easily entertains. It's a world that feels pretty complex already with it offering up an overview of more than just the school that Ivy attends. We get to see towns, hidden places, and much more as Ivy begins her journey.

The romance that is only beginning to be hinted at during this first chapter of Ivy's story is adorable. It's tentative, and sweet. There is just something innocent about their budding romance that works for the story being told. The other relationships being built are equally enjoyable, especially the friendship between Ivy and Rebecca. There is a whole cast of secondary characters that I am curious about and I cannot wait to see what roles they'll play going forward.

The biggest surprise in this novel was the fact that it moved much faster than I anticipated. There are things revealed that, while I guessed them, I didn't expect to be revealed into subsequent novels. It sets up this series to be unexpected than I anticipated and perhaps not quite as 'by the book' as I feared. It has the potential to be a series that only continues to improve as it progresses and I am excited to continue Ivy's journey.

A cute fantasy novel for the older middle grade reader in your life. It's also perfect for those missing the Harry Potter series. It's a fun start to a series that I hope continues to grown and darken as the series continues. I recommend it to Harry Potter fans missing that rush, those who love stories filled with secrets, and who don't mind the chosen one trope.

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