Jewel, a young witch, is sent off to Norma Jean’s School of Witchery, the modern magic-wielder’s answer to secondary education. Her new roommate is a presidential candidate’s daughter, and someone has a sinister eye on her and the entire school. Jewel, who seems unable to do the simplest spells, thwarts an attempt on her roommate’s life and must face the fact that her powers are both different and dangerous. She must navigate new romance, strange classes, and her abilities, all while politics and magic collide both outside the school’s walls and within.
The world of the book was clever and fresh, and I’m looking forward to seeing more. This book is aimed at YA audiences, but I think some aspects would have been clearer had I read the Three J’amigos series, which is apparently written for adults. There was plenty of adventure and fun, as well as a good balance of darkness and levity. The friendships and interactions between the students felt authentic.
I did have some deep issues with Jewel, however. The adult interactions — particularly the “sure go ahead and have sex” / hinting at babies and marriage — seemed a bit unrealistic. Even if witches mature at a younger age, I still feel the parental figures should be more concerned, or at least have a “be safe and true to yourself” conversation. Jewel falls prey to the unfortunate Mary Sue trope. She is better than everyone at almost everything. The only exception is her struggle to use actual magic, which ends up being because she’s more powerful than most people anyways, so it’s not really a drawback. It’s hard to relate to someone who excels at everything. Lastly, Jewel just lost both her parents. Apart from a brief introspective scene at the very beginning she doesn’t grieve or even process any aspect of their death. There was also a small issue with all the cheerleaders being shallow and busty, though as the book is written in first person, perhaps it is the character’s stereotyping and not the author’s.
The plot itself was well thought out and had a fun political twist that I really enjoyed. Many of the supporting characters were diverse and I’d like to get to know them, and their differing powers, better. I’ll be giving the second book in this series a try, and plan to check out the Three J’amigos series as well.
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Rose Montague writes adult and YA urban fantasy. She lives in Elon, NC and is currently working on Jill, the third book in the Three J’Amigos series.