This review means quite a lot to me and I’m going to push as many of you lovely readers to read it, and re-blog it, and pass it onto others because this is not only an incredible book but the lovely K-Cross deserves a little extra publicity. When I first started my blog Katie always liked or commented and has really helped to improve my writing and the way I review. Sometimes blogging can feel a little lonely and having her comment or give me a little lift has meant a lot over the last year So, when she asked me whether I would like to read and review her book before it came out I could not resist and was begging her to send me a copy! So here it is just for you my lovely readers! (And I’m counting on you to share it, Twitter it, re-blog it and comment on it to let her know you’re going to go out and read it!)
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.
The story follows the mysterious Bianca; a seemingly nervous witch who has come to study at the exclusive and influential ‘Miss Mabel’s School for Girls.’ However as she grows and starts to mix in with the rest of the excitable students it becomes apparent that Bianca is no ordinary student, and her reasons for studying are even less ordinary. Bianca suddenly shows her true colours by entering the ‘Competition.’ This is a revolutionary act; first years, do not enter the competition. But Bianca is a feisty witch and she convinces the professors to let her through and compete. The prize is to study under the influence of the superior Miss Mabel, Bianca must triumph in three tests, only then she will become the assistant. However this esteemed title comes with not only hard work, determination and tests, but it could be the difference between freedom for herself and her family. The trials are beautifully embellished and really help to show the fantasy genre of the book; they exude magic, mystery and are overall enchanting. The trials include skills in survival, herbs, magic charms and deception and are beautifully described; Bianca is triumphant but not without pushing herself to the very limit. However, this is only the first part of the story. Faced with learning under the vicious and strong-witted Miss Mabel, Bianca must face up to the challenge. But she is not alone, she befriends two very different girls; Camille a yielding character who at first appears weak but develops through the books and really shows her real personality to her new friends and Leda who hides in books, but underneath is a witty and clever character. The book continues with Bianca growing stronger in her development as a witch not only in education, learning more and more charms and hexes, but also in her relationships, her ability to emote with others and her confidence in her skills. As Bianca grows as a witch, Miss Mabel suddenly springs a new assignment on her; Bianca must take notes at the Esbat, which is the meeting of the Network’s Council of Leaders, a highly esteemed panel. The meeting that Bianca finally attends will spell a change in her life forever, as she will discover a secret that could change not only her and her family’s life but also the lives of the students and the rest of the school forever.
One of the biggest strengths with the writing of this novel is in its sense of fluidity; the beauty of the description does not falter throughout the entirety of the book. The descriptive writing is stunningly detailed, in-depth and they really spring off the page and pull you into the story; ‘I took Camille by the hand, and we plunged into the festivities, laughing until the light faded and the feast began beneath the pumpkin-coloured sky.’ The characters are extensively built up and if you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know how important it is that the characters have strong qualities. Bianca appears to be a nervous character with little self-belief, but we quickly learn that there is an inner strength and that our first view of her does not truly reflect her inner core, which includes wit, loyalty, and power. Camille appears ditzy and slightly offish however throughout the book she grows in strength and shows emotional devotion. She is an internally strong character who displays a waif-like vulnerability; but this is all for show and I cannot wait to see her further develop in the second book! Leda is a character that lives in books and loves to learn however there is a secret behind her obsessive complex and the way this intermingles with Bianca’s life is well discussed and I hope that the connection between them will continue to grow. Another strength of the writing is the connection shown between Bianca and her family; throughout the book the theme of family runs strongly. I don’t want to spoil the story, as I am not a fan of spoilers, however the way in which the author mixes the importance of family with the overall impending storyline is brilliantly placed and really adds fire to the plot-line.
Cross works incredibly hard to make the characters stories interweave perfectly and it reads effortlessly. One of the things I liked most about the book was the little touches. These include the circlus, a magical band around the wrist of each witch that evolves and changes as the student becomes more educated, and the use of the greeting ‘Merry meet,’ to greet others. It is sometimes the tiny details that make a book and these have definitely made the book feel more personal and have defined it, as it’s own fantasy. I honestly read this book in around three days; and yes as always I had an essay on the go. I thought it was not only beautifully written but it had an essence that made the book feel even more stylised and fantastical. When I finally, reached the end of the book I felt stumped as to what I would do next; luckily Cross is starting on the new one (YES!) However, I see this being made into a major movie and gaining a major ‘fandom’ (hate that word) pretty soon. I implore you to grab a copy of this book ASAP and start reading because the popularity of this book is going to skyrocket! I can only sing praises to ‘Miss Mable’s School for Girls, and the brilliant Katie Cross.’
Find out more at www.missmabels.com & www.facebook.com/missmabels