ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: The Crowns of Croswald (The Croswald Series)
Author: D.E. Night
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publishing: July 21, 2017 (Stories Untold Press)
Format: Paperback, 314 pages
Source: JKS Communications
“She loved his books and stories more than anything, tales of deep magic that were so far from her reality.”
In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret…
For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.
The Crowns of Croswald is a whimsical tale (reminiscent of Cinderella, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson) of a young girl on the path to self-discovery in a magical kingdom. This is the debut novel from D.E. Night; the first book in a Middle Grade Fantasy series. I am 32 years old, so I seldom read Middle Grade literature, but the synopsis and beautiful cover of this book instantly caught my attention.
It was hard not to notice this book, as it (and an amazing promo box) began floating around the book community. I was seeing stunning photographs featuring The Crowns of Croswald for months on social media, and I decided that I needed to check out what was causing such a stir. I requested an e-ARC via Netgalley, however, it was archived by the time I was approved to receive a review copy. Thankfully, JKS Communications offered to send me a physical ARC, which is what I read for review.
Please take note that as I was reading, I often reminded myself that this is a Middle Grade book, and I do not even come close to falling into that target audience. With that being said, I found this to be an enjoyable read, suitable for a younger demographic but pleasant enough for most ages. I did, however, have a few issues with this book.
Although The Crowns of Croswald is evocative of other well-known and loved tales, Night manages to create a fun, imaginative narrative. A magical world of scrivenists and royals, ruled by a dark queen with her own agenda?! Yes, please! I loved the hierarchy in this book and the concept of scrivenists, in general. To be honest, though, it did take me a few chapters to really get into this book. The pacing, at times, was a bit slow. BUT, I believe the [sluggish] opening chapters were important to the story, and it is worth it if you just stick with it.
The Kingdom of Croswald is truly enchanting! Night’s world building is descriptive and charming. From the Slurry fields to the town of Ravenshollow; from the Halls of Ivy to the Hollow Shaft; I have a perfect vision of Croswald in my head. I’d like to touch on a few things more specifically:
- Envisioning the Slurry was easy thanks to the photos of some promotional items and the author’s website that I saw prior to reading the book (and let me just say how pretty that artwork is – well done). At one point while reading a scene about Ivy in the Slurry fields, I pictured Belle (from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) singing on top of the hill about wanting to find adventure in the great wide somewhere! It was quite a fitting image, I thought, the more I read. The Slurry, itself, played its own crucial role, which I considered to be really inventive.
- Ravenshollow was full of fantastic shops/businesses, and I found myself wanting more of some of the characters that Ivy encountered there, like Mr. Munson. *Please consider this my formal request for more of Mr. Munson in the next book.*
- I have officially decided that I need magical powers of some sort, because some of the best adventures in Middle Grade literature take place at a school for gifted children. In this case, the Halls of Ivy was alluring and delightful. I really enjoyed all of the whimsy that Night injected into this castle and the magical lessons to be learned. I previously mentioned how I loved the concept of scrivenists, but the power-wielding stones for royals and the Glanageries were equally appealing.
I tend to gravitate towards books that are more character driven. I do need a solid plot, but if a book has a strong cast of characters that are well-developed, I can be happy. The Crowns of Croswald was in the middle, for me, on both parts.
I felt that some scenes and characters were underdeveloped. Now, I loved Ivy! She was caring, curious, and strong-willed – my kind of girl! I also really liked Rebecca, Winsome, and Fyn.
I actually wish there was more of Fyn! You could see the spark igniting with Fyn and Ivy, but the flame never quite caught, and I wanted it to. Fyn and Ivy complimented each other well, which was why I was hopeful. I got the biggest grin when I read “He had a look of curiosity on his okay-maybe-he’s-handsome face, head cocked to the side.” The feels really sank in at that point!
Of course, I also disliked (in the way a reader is meant to dislike them) the Dark Queen and Damaris. I want to know more about the Dark Queen’s story. I got a glimpse of it here, but I hope the future book(s) in this series give the reader a full view. I also had questions about the Selector that went unanswered.
The book ended a bit quicker than I would have hoped, but the set-up for the next book is there!
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I highly doubt a 10 year old is going to read this as critically as I did, so I think the target audience will thoroughly appreciate The Crowns of Croswald. I actually think a lot of YA fans will also like it, which is why I will recommend this book. I am looking forward to seeing what unfolds in this series.
So, until next time… xo
*Thanks to JKS Communications for providing me with a copy of this book. Please note that it, in no way, affected my opinion or review.