Author: Inara Scott
Year of Publication: 2010
Main Character: Dancia—3/5. She wasn’t a bad main character, but I didn’t necessarily connect with her. It happens.
Secondary Characters: Decent. Her friends all have unique personalities. The guys she likes are just different enough from each other for it to work (and they seem more mature than their ages).
Pacing: This book was a little slower than average. I feel like a moderate amount of the plot and writing could have been cut and the flow would have been more captivating.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: The synopsis is accurate, but it gives off a completely different vibe from the book. The novel itself is a lot less mysterious and involves very little demonstration of Dancia’s power.
Resolution: Something about this ending just rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t care for how abrupt it was. There wasn’t much transition from the rising action to the end. I felt like everything ended up like it was supposed to, but the road to get there was anticlimactic.
The Good: The characters are all interesting and developed for this type of plot. I liked Dancia learning to navigate new friendships and learn about herself. There was nothing necessarily wrong with the book, but it lacked that special x factor. Dancia’s power was pretty interesting and useful, although she only used it a few times in the book; I had thought her power would be a major factor. I really liked Esther and Hennie; I found them to be incredibly good friends for Dancia and I’m so glad they stayed supportive of her struggles. I also really liked Dancia’s grandma—she gave some solid advice and not much escaped her notice.
The Bad: I was expecting the plot to be a lot more about Dancia’s powers and her investigating the school’s nefarious intentions, so it was kind of a letdown that it was more about her developing relationships with other people. On a side note, of the three important people, they were all parentless in some way or other and had less than stellar upbringings; that made it really easy to confuse their stories. I had assumed that everyone at the school would have similar abilities, but most didn’t, which was really confusing and misleading. I feel like the author should have added more about the magical aspect and cut some of the events from the beginning to move up the part where Jack actually has something to support his theory. The villains themselves weren’t consistent at all in their malevolence. In fact, they stayed nameless and faceless the entire book and I’m not sure if they were supposed to be villains or what…. And not to spoil anything, but there was a loose end involving some stolen books and we never learned what information was in them.
Overall Impression: I purchased this book years ago expecting the classic Harry Potter–esque story about a girl getting whisked away to a mysterious school to learn about her power. What I got was a big letdown in that department, but the author somehow managed to create interesting characters anyway. They were pretty much the only reason I continued reading once I figured out I wasn’t going to get what I wanted from this book.
Would I recommend it? I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell someone about it, but I wouldn’t tell anyone not to read it.