Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: The Crowns of Croswald (The Croswald Series #1)

Release Date: July 21, 2017
Author: D.E. Night
Publisher: Stories Untold
Length: 320 pages
Source: Review Copy from Author

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



Protagonist: Ivy Lovely has lived a rather ordinary life as a servant in Castle Plum, due to the magic repelling plants around the property. However, she can't stay cooped up inside the castle grounds forever and when she steps beyond them her magic, and her past, come crashing in and the only place to find the information she seeks is in the Halls of Ivy, a school where children learn to master their magical talents. On the whole, I really liked Ivy as a character, she's spunky, impulsive, and adventurous, but she also has a few concerning Mary Sue traits. There are quite a few moments where Ivy is just able to do what she wants without any real consequences. Sure she makes mistakes, but nothing too terrible happens and she gets at least a small bit of what she wants. Don't get me wrong, she doesn't just float through this book having people practically falling at her feet with nearly no conflict, it's just that sometimes it feels like she's a walking Deus Ex Machina.

World Building: So, going into this book I was completely wrong about the world building. I thought this book would be kind of like Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and in a small way it is, I guess, with Castle Plum acting more like the town of Wall where nothing magical can exist on one side, while the other side is extremely magical. Instead, this story reads more like Harry Potter. In fact, there are moments in this book that are scarily close to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, however, the overall world building and the magic system are so different that it's extremely difficult to even entertain the notion that this could be a Harry Potter rip-off, it's just that some moments are a bit too reminiscent of classic HP scenes.

Predictability: While I do love the world building I have to say that some times it could get a bit confusing, or shall I say it's easy to misunderstand how certain bits of world building fit together. This was most present when I was trying to decipher the truth about Ivy's past before it was revealed in the book and due to a misunderstanding with some of the foreshadowing, I was hopelessly confused until everything came together. I do have to say that even with the misunderstanding I don't think I would have completely figured it all out anyway, and it's a rather complex answer at that.

Ending: The ending to this book is very interesting. On the one hand, the final climax is anything but anticlimactic, although in all honesty, in the final climactic battle of this installment I never felt like Ivy used what she learned at the Halls of Ivy to tackle the battle with her foe, instead, she just sort of does what she needs to do, adding to that Mary Sue feeling I talked about earlier. The cooldown period is great because it makes sure the reader fully understands all of the twists and turns and acts a really great debrief before launching into a really interesting cliffhanger.


I thought long and hard about this rating and while this story is fairly slow paced it does pick up and begin to snowball but with a protagonist with Mary Sue aspects and some easily misinterpreted world building/foreshadowing I didn't feel a higher (or lower) rating would fit. I'm still extremely pumped about the sequel though!


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