The Witchling Academy, #1
by Monica Sanz
YA Paranormal / Fantasy
Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she's the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.
Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium's Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.
The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he'll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she'll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn't the only thing that makes a witch burn.
This read grips right away, tightens and refuses to let go until the very end.
As the seventh child, Sera is cursed. As is with all seventh borns, Sera's mother died at her birth. What happened after that, Sera hasn't the slightest clue. Her memory is blank outside of the two years following her entrance to the Academy—two horrible years that have left her scarred inwardly and out. Seventh borns have been shunned by society for generations, but thanks to a new program, Sera is allowed to study at the academy and harbors the dream of someday becoming an Inspector, a position unheard of for someone like herself. Not only does she have to face the ridicule and prejudice her classmates and teachers dish out, but due to her horrible temper, she's on the brink of losing her dreams too. When one of her professors offers her a deal, it might be her one chance to become everything she's dreamed of....or loose everything she still has including her life.
This book surprised me. While the blurb and cover immediately drew my interest, the tale was so much better than I expected. Sera is an intriguing young woman with more baggage and secrets than anyone should have. But there's no room for pity, nor does Sera want any. She's determined, despite all of her weaknesses and short comings. She carries a shield of snark and a coat of coldness, all to protect her wonderfully warm heart that she's protecting inside.
Darkness shrouds these pages the entire way through, but it never grows overpowering. The evil is very evil and so covered up in layers of intrigue and secrets that it's not clear what Sera is up against until the very last pages. The mystery is very well paced with bits and pieces of the puzzle dribbling through. The clues not only follow the mystery but weave around the characters surrounding Sera in unexpected ways which deepen their own histories as well. It's well done, holds many surprises, and captures the attention without a moment of boredom.
There is a little taste of school drama in a witch world sense. The young adult audience can connect to Sera without any problem as she suffers from the difficulties with teachers and peers, as well as the expectations of the everyday teen world. Although this aspect is only slight, it gives readers an anchor before the rest of the amazing and rich fantasy of the world around Sera take hold. And the world is rich, dangerous, alluring and simply a delight.
Romance hovers in the pages too, but at a very low-key level, especially at first. Sera is not interested in the more social aspects of life but is very determined in her goal. Her opening up flows smoothly and perfectly with her character development. The hints of romance drip in, increasing toward the end of the book but never running full stream. Trust needs to be built, and that's clear in these pages., which fits superbly with Sera, her past and what still awaits her.
If it were available, I'd already have my hands on the second book of this series. It's that good, and I can only recommend it to fans of magic, intrigue, darker tones, a dash of romance and tons of mystery.
I received a complimentary advanced reader's copy and loved it. So, I'm leaving my honest thoughts.