Publisher: Stories Untold Press
Number of pages: 314
Published: July 21st, 2017
Source: In exchange for an honest review a copy was received from Publisher.
Opening Line: "The village, well it had a lot of secrets. And its secrets need to be kept safe."
Sixteen-year-old Ivy Lovely is a scaldrony maid in the kitchen of Castle Plum, tending to the fire-breathing cooking dragons. Following a mishap in the kitchen, she is thrown out of the castle by the head cook. As Ivy steps across a slurry field, a magical boundary is released which set's a series of events in motion leading her to The Halls of Ivy, a castle that has been converted into a school of magic. For the past few years, Ivy has been having the same nightly dream of the castle and a man whose identity is a mystery to her, following her dreams she is able to perfectly sketch the details from her photographic memory leaving her with more questions than answers.
The Crowns of Croswald is a fabulous story with an enchanting magical world reminiscent of Harry Potter, Cinderella and one character in particular that made me think of the white rabbit from Alice and Wonderland. I'm not sure if the inspiration for the story was Harry Potter, but there were many similarities that I noted while reading that seemed to capture that same feeling of being swept up into a new rich world filled with all these fantastical details. We have a girl whose identity is hidden while she is a maid at Castle Plum, once her magical abilities begin to surface she draws the attention of the nefarious Dark Queen and her Cloaked Brood. Ivy takes classes at the school in subjects such as Minor Magic, Art of Ink and Memory and Creatures of the Night. She has two close friends, Rebecca and Fyn who watch over and protect her when bully Damaris tries to get her into trouble with the headmistress of the school. The magic of Croswald is what sets this apart, there are Scrivenists whose magic is in their blood, giving them the innate ability to record images or events from photographic memory using quills, ink, and parchment. The Crowns are royal prince and princesses who have magical stones they wear granting them a magical skill they can call from. For instance, enhanced speed or the ability to transform. Ivy is a lovely character, she loves to sketch and has been searching for answers about her past and family. Magic doesn't come easily to her at first. The reoccurring dream Ivy has is the mystery lingering throughout the story that she is trying to piece together and as things unfold, we learn the details of the magical world right along with her. There are some fun references to foods such as clobber coffee, peach pecan pie and a pop of gold and dorm daze tea as well as the day to day classes one would expect from a boarding school type story. In some ways, this slows down the pacing, but I love magical schools and enjoy immersing myself in potions classes, hunts for mysterious journals and magical bottles like the Glanagerie's which is similar to a penseive, transporting you into a teaching scenario. Plus there are creatures such as a Shorehorse and Ivy's small fire-breathing dragon who can cook your breakfast in its mouth to keep you entertained. D.E. Night is currently working on the next book in the series, The Girl with the Whispering Shadow and I look forward to reading it in hope that some of my lingering questions will be answered. Overall an enjoyable, imaginative and entertaining debut.