The Book of Spells: A Private Prequel by Kate Brian
Set in the early 20th century Book of Spells introduces Eliza Williams a modern thinking teen ahead of her time. She has more of a romantic view on education and what unladylike books she can read then the silly notion of finding a husband. As she enters the Billings School Eliza is excited for the freedom to learn whatever she wants without thought to decorum only to learn Billings is more of a finishing school for proper ladies than the cultivating institute of academic knowledge she craves. Still Eliza is determined not to have her spirit crushed like her sister, but nothings going according plan, plus there’s a boy who she can’t stop thinking about. Unfortunately he’s taken. Soon Eliza and her new friends stumble upon a magical treasure. Everything seems fine and balanced for a while, but tragedy strikes and Eliza and her coven will cross a line that will have repercussions for generations.
I haven’t read any of Brian’s novels and thought this would be a great start, but Book of Spells is filled with typical characters and story lines. Eliza is the bright eyed forward thinking rebel, whose refreshing outspoken views on politics and literature charms the male lead. Theresa is the rich spoiled bad girl starving for attention competing for alpha status over Eliza, but who really just wants to be loved. And Catherine is the mediator and constant, she’s the pure and good one who acts as a bridge not just for the characters but for the story. All these players are cookie cutter characters, we see repeated over and over again. Eliza has that Jo quality, but falls for a guy and goes back and forth on whether or not to be with him. She feels like she’s becoming exactly what she was avoiding, the proper starter wife, instead of seeing that her beau likes who she is. She can have love and keep herself. Win Win. Not that it matters. All the characters become annoying and unlikable after a while, either for their personalities, predictability, or horrid choices.
The storyline and love triangle aren’t much better. You know when she meets the boy there’s going to be a hitch and exactly who that person is. Or that no matter what they do with magic that it’s going to have a price. I thought it would be OK, but then the ending was also unsatisfying. Unfortunately all these scenes reminded me of better books and similar characters and after all the predictability there’s no real resolve at the end. No feel good conclusion. No payoff. And no indication of a sequel to answer any lingering questions.
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