Each book that starts with a 'school' or 'academy' threatens to become yet another Harry Potter clone. That indeed was my first worry when I started reading this one.
The second fear I had was the contra-'misogynistic' bend of the story. Don't get me wrong, misogyny has no place in this world, and unfortunately there are still many examples of such behavior in today's society.
Hammer... hammer... hammer...
These things need to be addressed, fair. However, by overly pushing a specific agenda the writer can lose the reader. And for quite a bit of the book all the shortcomings of a patriarchal society were repeatedly exposed... and exposed... and exposed... and exposed... Hammering the point home until it gets obnoxious.
That's a pity, because the story is pretty good, and it didn't need to repeat the insult to women that many times -- it was pretty clear after a while that the things done to the main character were unreasonable, unfair, and everything one wants in a good book.
Yes. We got the point. But it's a bit overdone, and hurts the book, and that's a pity because the book isn't that bad at all.
Who does the story serve?
I've heard this phrase before as 'who does the narrative serve?' and it is a question we all should ask. The second half of the book is more of a (depressing) whodunit / mystery than a Harry Potter adventure. But it's the better part, until it reaches most of it's conclusion at 95%. That's where it all falls apart.
In a nutshell, magic is the domain of men, but... well... maybe it isn't.
Marya Lupu, sister to her 'probably mage' brother, is sent to a far away academy for troubled girls, where they will cure her of her troubled nature. Things aren't quite as they seem, and at the end of the book the Academy is exposed for what it is, a place where men rob women of their magic.
After all the negativity, the powerlessness, the awful behavior and attitude, and finding out the whole things is a complete farce the ending is way, way too smooth. They fight. They win. Some good people come and join the fray, and all is well.
It can't be.
What this book is missing is what comes after Dragomir Academy. How the players now have to fight to overturn a failing, utterly wrong system. Anne Ursu took the story far enough and it almost seems like she set it up for the sequel... then decided against it.
And what happened in the past? How did the world end up this way? She never tells us...
An okay read, Young Adult / New Adult, with some depressing undertones and definitely not for the sensitive. It sends a message, but it does so repeatedly and thinks it needs a blunt hammer to drive the point home.
Yes. It's quite readable, but it would have been better with a little 'tone-down' and a better ending, or even a sequel.
Good fit for the book.
(Dapper / TellTales! #113)