Received from NetGalley for review.
If you’re after a story reminiscent of Harry Potter, but with scrivenists (writers and artists with magic, essentially) instead of witches and wizards, The Crowns of Croswald is for you. Instead of Harry we have Ivy, instead of Hogwarts we have the Halls of Ivy, and instead of witchcraft and wizardry we have trainee scrivenists and royals learning to harness their magic. I won’t deny that it’s a fun and light-hearted read, although I found it slightly lacking and would recommend it more for younger readers getting into longer novels.
The story follows Ivy Lovely, a maid who learns she has magical abilities and is swept off to the Halls of Ivy, a famous school of scrivenist trainees and royals who harness magical stones in their crowns. Although everything seems whimsical and exciting, there is something strange and dark happening in Croswald, and Ivy soon finds her magic and life at risk. Magic, secrets, evil queens, tiny dragons, enchanted quills, and forgotten castles all muddle together to create a whirlwind adventure. I liked Ivy – who doesn’t enjoy an unlikely hero, especially one who loves to read? And I loved following her journey as she discovers her magical abilities. There is a fairly strong cast of supporting characters as well, from eccentric Professors and excitable scrivenists, haughty princesses and eager scrivenists-in-training, to all manner of creatures, that will delight readers of all ages (Humboldt the scaldron and Ivy’s nervy porcupine deserve a special mention).
Although I think this book is very much middle-grade, I’m sure readers of all ages will be able to enjoy this story – it’s a fast-paced story full of magic and wonder, with a courageous protagonist discovering who she is and how she fits into a world she never thought she’d belong to. Although it is a good story, I personally found it lacking depth. There seemed to be lots of action happening without enough explanation, which meant that some parts felt rushed; the narrative was more tell than show and I felt that certain aspects of the story could have been more developed. Younger readers, I’m sure, will be delighted by this, I just wanted something a bit meatier.
Read: July 12th-15th 2017