Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Reading on a Theme: Schools of Magic

Honestly, I love a good school setting. Even better is if that school is a boarding school. And, best of all, is if that boarding school is a school for magic. This post features five books that will take you into the hallowed halls of the most desirable schools of all.

An Old Friend:
Although I came to Tamora Pierce's books relatively late in life, I can say, without any reservations, that I have thoroughly made up for this delay. She is to date my most read author. Tempests and Slaughter was a long-awaited book among Tamora Pierce fans. It follows the training of the young Arram Draper whom we first met in the Immortals series as Numair. Arram is the youngest student to ever enter the Imperial University of Carthak. Much of the book follows Arram's day-to-day life: going to school, hanging out with his best friends, Ozorne and Varice, dealing with unexpected magical occurrences. This book is so typically Tamora Pierce, and it is big on the nostalgia factor, which I completely lapped up. 

An Alternate History: 
The Philosopher's Flight was one of my favorite reads of 2018. I found it so incredibly entertaining. In this alternate World War I era novel, magic (called empirical philosophy) has been part of society for generations. Women are naturally more gifted in empirical philosophy, flipping the gender dynamics in intriguing ways. Robert Weekes's mother is an empirical philosopher, and, though it's slightly unorthodox, she's taught her son. A daring rescue gives Robert the confidence to apply to college to study empirical philosophy, despite the fact that they seldom accept boys. Tom Miller's debut novel is such an entertaining work of feminist fiction. A good alternate history is one that is both entertaining and thought-provoking, and this book is definitely those things. I'm excited to read the sequel, The Philosopher's War, out July 2019.

A Deadly Disease:
Nedra Brysstain has been awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Yugen Academy where she plans to study medicinal alchemy. Nedra's studies are frantic; a deadly disease is sweeping across her island home and her only hope is to find a cure. I loved so many things about this book. Not only do we have a magic school, mysterious tutors, and a girl who doesn't fit in, but there's also a plague. (And oddly, that seems to be one of my buzzwords. It's not the only book in this post that features a deadly disease.) Give the Dark My Love is deliciously creepy, and things really take a turn toward the dark side about halfway through. Beth Revis's new series is one to watch. I have no idea what to expect from the sequel.

A Multi-Generational Curse:
Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break it, she enrolls at Miss Mabel's school of magic intent on winning the competition to become the headmistress's apprentice, despite the fact that she is only a first year. Miss Mabel's School for Girls is a bit different than other books that feature magical schools because the teacher, rather than being a mentor for our young student, is the antagonist. I enjoyed the ways that Katie Cross's book overturns the tropes that have become pretty standard for books like this. This is a good series for fans of witches. I really liked Bianca's friends and found their abilities intriguing. It's clear that the series is going to become more complex in the following books as Bianca's world expands beyond the walls of her school.

A Government Conspiracy:
Teddy Cannon has always had an unnatural ability to read people that has served her well in side-stepping trouble. When her luck runs out, a stranger offers her a place at the School for Psychics. Teddy enters unsure if she could really be psychic but quickly discovers that is the least of her problems. School for Psychics has mystery, conspiracy, and a little bit of magic. I love that it is set in a world like our own, making it feel like we could run into Teddy and her friends on the street. K.C. Archer really captured the university feeling, and I loved following Teddy as she sought to uncover the mysteries within this government-run school. The sequel, The Astral Traveler's Daughter, is out April 2, 2019.

Tempests and Slaughter, The Philosopher's Flight, Give the Dark My Love, and Miss Mabel's School for Girls reviewed by JoLee.
School for Psychics reviewed by Paige.

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