Saturday, April 9, 2011
Review: The Book of Spells
Author: Kate Brian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Other books in the series: *Note, this a prequel to the Private series which starts with Private (Private, Book 1)
Synopsis (from Amazon): The year is 1915 when sixteen-year-old Eliza Williams arrives at the Billings School for Girls in Easton, Connecticut. Her parents expect her to learn the qualities of a graceful, dutiful wife. But Eliza and her housemates have a dangerous secret: They're witches. After finding a dusty, leather bound spell book, the Billings Girls form a secret coven. Bonded in sisterhood, they cast spells--cursing their headmistress with laryngitis, brewing potions to bolster their courage before dances, and conjuring beautiful dresses out of old rags. The girls taste freedom and power for the first time, but what starts out as innocent fun turns sinister when one of the spells has an unexpected-and deadly-consequence. Magic could bring Eliza everything she's ever wanted...but it could also destroy everything she holds dear.
I really enjoyed The Book of Spells: A Private Prequel. It brought a whole new dimension to the Private books, plus it was fun reading about the original Billings.
The characters in the story were all unique, but I saw Eliza as Reed and Theresa as Noelle so there were some parallels to the rest of the series. Eliza is a character I related with straight away. She thinks reading and politics are much more important than boys and society. What I really like about Eliza is that she's normal. She's not too outspoken: she's often vulnerable and she makes many mistakes but she's still likable. Theresa walks the fine line between a character I hate and like. She's snobby and commanding but there's a soft, kind part of her. She can make you want to scream and make you want to hug her in a few pages. She's a very complicated character and I wish there were more books to figure her out.
I think this is one of the best Private novels. The plot is interesting and keeps moving, but I wish a bit more was happening. I already like reading about these characters and The Book of Spells feels like a little appetizer toward a main course. The problem is that since this is a prequel, it's not a series. That's why the story was pretty simple but still interesting.
The one problem I have with this book is the magic part. There have been more than 6 private books and none of them mentioned magic until now. That feels really weird to me. It's kinda like the author thought she'd like to experiment with witches and then changed the original story to fit this new idea. It doesn't fit though. The whole time I was reading The Book of Spells, I was trying to get over the fact that this was a Private novel. This could easily have been a standalone in which case it makes perfect sense but magic in the series feels weird to me.
All in all, The Book of Spells was an easy to read fun book of magic, friendship and romance. I'd say it's possible to read this without ever having read the Private novels. Since I liked this book, I'm giving it 4 stars,