Setting - A+
It's a rare find in any book, that I enjoy all of the characters, even the ones that I don't like (if that makes any sense :)) Each person in this book is unique.
Our protag Bianca is a girl on a mission. She's pretty single-minded about it, which I can admire. She didn't let herself get distracted or discouraged. Also, she's incredibly selfless. She wants desperately to help her family, especially her grandmother, whom she is very close with, as well as her mother. I can relate to that. Despite this being a fantasy book, those relationships are very realistically done. She's also quite clever, which comes in very handy through this story. She makes friends fairly easily, considering how little time she has to do with, and she chooses with a great deal of discretion.
Her two best friends Camille and Leda play a pretty big part in this story, not only as her friends but supporters. They play off of each other well, and have something of a symbiotic relationship. Studious, plagued Leda keeps fresh, fun Camille grounded and centered. I enjoyed both of them.
And of course, there's Miss Mabel herself. I so wanted her to be this kindly, old crone who imparts wisdom, but that, she surely isn't. She's is quite cruel and heartless. Despite this, she does do her job, and teaches Bianca a great deal. Of course, this is for her benefit so...
There's a lot of plot here and a few different stories happening. The primary one is Bianca working to relieve her family and herself of a curse that was bestowed on her grandmother years ago and is passed down through her bloodline to females.
As I mentioned above, Bianca is quite single-minded. She went to school with a mission and never let up for a second. Even after
, she never gave up.
The plot carries quickly through the story with little filler or dull space. Something is always happening, though it isn't always in an action-packed sense. There are many times when Bianca is simply learning valuable information that progresses the plot.
When the story began I thought, My, this sounds a lot like The Goblet of Fire what with a small group of witches competing against each other in tests of wit and magical ability, and Bianca being younger than the others, and seemingly at a disadvantage. However, those thoughts and comparisons quickly dispelled and I was happy to see that it is indeed a very distinct story. So, if you get discouraged by that, please keep reading.
First of all, I love boarding schools, so this book was going to get points for that alone. More than that, though, we never get the feeling that we leave the school. You know, how sometimes you're super into a setting, but then there's this brief moment, maybe a page or a line, when a character says or does something and you think, That wouldn't have happened there. Do you have those? Sometimes I get those. But that didn't happen here. When you were in the classroom, you were in the classroom. When Bianca describes a dusty, cramped room, I felt like I was there with her. Setting was very well done.
Writing was quite good as well, for all the reasons aforementioned. it all came together well and I never felt like I was out of the loop or missing anything, but the story wasn't bogged down with descriptions either. It was a nice balance.[spoiler][/spoiler]