The Crowns of Croswald (Ivy Lovely, #1) blurb:
In Croswald, the only one 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 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.
I really enjoyed this! However, I did kind of struggle to understand what was happening at the start of the book. My advice is to persevere – it all makes sense in the end!
The story follows Ivy Lovely who has one friend (a dwarf), and is the lowest of the low at Plum Castle, sleeping on the stone floor in a pantry and fighting the kitchen cats for scraps of food. Ivy wishes she was magical like the castle’s scrivenist (a person with magic in their blood that uses said magic through enchanted quills, but is also kind of like a professor – always researching and studying), and on the day of her 16th birthday, everything she has ever known changes forever. Ivy is propelled into a new world as a scrivenist, but she struggles to fit in here as well. Even with everything she ever wanted, it doesn’t quite fit what she expected.
Now, as you read this, you might think it’s a bit like Harry Potter reimagined as a 16 year old girl. And there are absolutely some similarities:
- orphan treated badly with unknown magical abilities
- magical world (about to launch into war with dark enemy)
- magical school (in which they constantly get into a lot of trouble)
- a prophecy
- a super smart best friend
- a strange, aloof head of school
But it’s a different feel when you read it, and somewhere along the way you stop comparing them, and start enjoying it in its own right.
In terms of world building, this book is entirely high fantasy – there is absolutely none of our world in this (HP is urban fantasy). Ivy knows about magic her whole life, but she lives in a county that farms slurry (which dulls magical abilities), so it’s not until she leaves the county that she becomes aware of her own abilities. The world in itself is magic personified. There is absolutely no modern marvels such as electricity. Lights are either candles or pixie like fairies whose hair glows and are kept in lanterns. And the creatures! I love them so much! Dragons who cook food, and porcupines that give you practice quills, and all the others! I want to go here!
One of the things I love most is how even in the magical community, there are two types of abilities. You could be royalty, and use magic through a crystal or gem in your crown; or you can be a scrivenist, and use magic through your quill. I also love the idea of the yearly books you use to write or study, and the personal file that stays in the headmaster’s office.
In terms of characters, Ivy is sweet and a total oddity compared to everyone else. She remembers things she’s supposed to have forgotten, and magic doesn’t quite work for her the way it is supposed to. She’s poor the entire way through the book (and has to scrimp to get the worst of the school supplies), but she’s so refreshingly honest and loyal, it makes her endearing, even when she does something stupid.
Rebecca and Fyn are also great (although I think Fyn is still hiding a secret). And the secret behind Derwin Edgar Night – it’s so great!
Overall this book gave me everything I ever wanted in a book and didn’t know it. I can’t wait for more of Ivy’s adventures! I think it’s technically young adult, but I’d give it to a middle-grade reader too.
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.