If 14-year-old Cassandra Reed makes it through her first day at Miss Castwell’s Institute for the Magical Instruction of Young Ladies without anyone discovering her secret, maybe, just maybe, she’ll let herself believe that she really does belong at Miss Castwell’s.
Except Cassandra Reed’s real name is Sarah Smith and up until now, she lived her whole life in the Warren, serving a magical family, the Winters, as all non-magical “Snipes” are bound by magical Guardian law to do. That is, until one day, Sarah accidentally levitates Mrs. Winter’s favorite vase in the parlor…
But Snipes aren’t supposed to have magical powers…and the existence of a magical Snipe threatens the world order dictated during the Guardians’ Restoration years ago. If she wants to keep her family safe and protect her own skin, Sarah must figure out how to fit into posh Guardian society, master her newfound magical powers and discover the truth about how an ordinary girl can become magical.
What would happen if Harry Potter were female and grew up in Victorian England in a world where magic rules? If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, or are simply a fan of YA fantasy, then this is the book for you. Ms Harper seems to be heavily influenced by Harry Potter with schools for the magically gifted, familiars, non-magical folks known as Snipes, and a Ministry of Magic governing body. With our heroine being born into the world of non-magical humans, there are strong parallels.
I am a huge Harry Potter Fan, and for anyone following my blog, my love of fantasy, historical romance and steampunk is no surprise. When all of these are jumbled together, you can be sure I will read the book. I didn’t have high expectations going into this book, it’s a story that’s been done before, but I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. While Sarah/Cassandra is an excellent heroine, it’s her friends Ivy and Alicia in particular who made me fall in love with this book. Their sarcasm and wit were laugh-out-loud, Alicia’s one-liners were particularly humorous.
There is a lot still to discover about the world that our intrepid characters inhabit. I would prefer to have been given more of a backstory as to how magical users became the governing body, but this is a series, so I’m hoping the world will be expanded as the series develops.
There are issues with copy-editing which are annoying to find in a finished product. I expect them in arcs but not in a published work. Dropped sentences, repeating sentences, misspelling, it detracts from the story.
Overall this book is an excellent read. Ms Harper takes established tropes and storylines and injects a breath of fresh air into them.
*cover image and blurb via Goodreads