A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer
If you pick this book up and fall for the cover blurb – touting the book as “a large step up from Harry Potter,” it may lead you to believe the book will be different than it is. There really isn’t much to compare the two books, other than the broadest of outlines, and thinking you’ll get a book with the general feel of Harry Potter is a recipe for disappointment. All I can imagine is that the publishers were trying to grab any part of that audience possible, in any way possible.
So, why did they even attempt that ridiculous ploy? Well, it’s a fantasy book. There is magic, and a boarding school, and an orphaned main character. Beyond that however, I have no clue (other than that tempting built-in audience they couldn’t resist).
These complaints may make it seem like I hated the book, and I didn’t. It’s just so wildly mis-targeted as a Harry Potter readalike. In the Potter books, the school itself almost becomes another character, it’s such an important location. You become a part of the schooling the characters are undergoing. In Stevermer’s book, the school is only a small part of the story (almost 3 years are covered in maybe half of the book), and then the main character leaves, never to return. Classes are not mentioned, and other than a general “they had a lot of work to do” it’s all ignored in favor of other details.
There’s a sequel, A Scholar of Magics, and I would like to read it, to see where Stevermer goes with the story. I generally like alternative history/fantasy mish-mashes, so the setting and time frame worked for me. I’m hoping the plotting improves, as it was a major weakness, but it’s a quick enough read that I don’t mind spending some time on the second book.
Not recommended, unless you’re a die-hard fantasy fan, especially ones that are set in imaginary European countries in a vaguely Regency time period. Maybe book 2 will blow me away enough that I’ll revise this to slightly recommend it if only so you can read and appreciate the sequel, but we’ll have to see about that.
Teenager Faris Nallaneen is the heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon. Too young still to claim her title, her despotic Uncle Brinker has ruled in her place. Now he demands she be sent to Greenlaw College. For her benefit he insists. To keep me out of the way, more like it!
But Greenlaw is not just any school-as Faris and her new best friend Jane discover. At Greenlaw students major in . . . magic.
But it’s not all fun and games. When Faris makes an enemy of classmate Menary of Aravill, life could get downright . . . deadly.
Title: A College of Magics
Author: Caroline Stevermer
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 2.5 Stars
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