I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When I first saw the title Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, I imagined a Victorian or Edwardian setting, with the addition of some magic to liven things up. I was pleasantly surprised by magical world of The Network, which has regions with varying topography and factions with shifting alliances that make up Antebellum.
Bianca is a sixteen-year-old witch who has just enrolled at Miss Mabel’s School, an official Network school for the instruction of witchcraft. In this regard, it is not unlike that other famous school for witchcraft and wizardry. Young witches attend the school for three years, choosing a course of study best suited to their individual talents.
But Bianca doesn’t have three years. She doesn’t even have one year. Many years ago, Bianca’s grandmother was cursed by another witch. Curses are generational, and as the third recipient of the curse, if Bianca cannot convince the witch who cursed her grandmother to lift the curse, she will die on her seventeenth birthday.
And of course, the witch who cursed her is none other than Miss Hazel. Bianca knows it will not be an easy task, but she is willing to do anything to ensure that the curse is lifted.
I absolutely loved Miss Mabel’s School for Girls. There are brief allusions to a Reformation in which the mortals were driven out of the land and the remaining witches and wizards divided the land into the current Networks, one of which hasn’t been heard from in years. I wished there would have been more information about the history of Antebellum, but I concede that this would have been a distraction from Bianca’s story.
Cross has woven together a compelling story. I found myself reading faster to see what would happen next. Bianca meets a few friends at the school, but due to some of the plot elements, she does not get to spend as much time with them. This conceit also helps remind the reader that Bianca is focused on achieving her goal. Her friends do play a supporting role; they have strengths and talents of their own, but there is not much they can do to actively assist her because Bianca’s work is much more advanced.
I would absolutely recommend Miss Mabel’s School for Girls. A sequel to this book has already been published, and I am very excited that I am not going to have to wait to find out what happens to Bianca after the end of the first book. The primary audience for this book is the young adult crowd, and it offers elements that encompass several of the currently popular YA genres. I am certainly looking forward to more from Katie Cross!