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. – Goodreads
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy in return for an honest review.
It took me a while to put my finger on exactly what I didn’t like about this book. It’s not a bad book per se and no one could say that D. E. Night lacks imagination, even despite the fact that the story, in broad strokes, is pretty much the same as Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. The problem, I found, was that there was too much imagination – too much world building.
Every page is so full of details about the world, and there is always a staggering amount of things happening non-stop that the descriptions have a bit of manic energy about them. Visually, it would probably be really enjoyable to watch. As a book though, the world itself take such precedence over characters and story, that those two elements of the book end up being so generic that they feel like an afterthought put in simply to move the reader through the world. Much of the “plot” is really Ivy being pulled from location to location simply so that another room can be described and the reader can be informed of another academic point about magic and Croswald life. The school scenes especially feel episodic, like Ivy is only in class so this mini-episodes of school life can happen and another generic character can be introduced. Even the parts of the book that are specifically plot points, such as Ivy discovering that her school books have become blank, are dumped in and then immediately forgotten about by the main character. It is hard to care about events in the book when the main character does not seem to.
Overall, I think young readers (and those new to fantasy) may enjoy the energy and pace of the book enough to be fine with the bare-bones plot, but the world building will likely not be enough to balance out the other generic elements for more experienced readers.