Fourteen-year-old Brystal Evergreen has always known she was destined for great things – that is, if she can survive the oppressive Southern Kingdom and its draconian laws. During a time when women are treated like inferior’s to men and are only meant to do household chores and become good wives Brystal finds her escape in books. The only problem is that female literacy is considered a crime in her world. Brystal finds creative ways of acquiring books and when she manages to get a job as a maid at the local library, she finally has the perfect excuse to be near them. But when Brystal uncovers a secret section of the library and finds a banned book about magic it changes her life forever.
Magic is despised and outlawed throughout the world and people of the magical community are either imprisoned and sentenced to do hard, gruelling manual work or executed – and that is with the more lenient laws of the Southern Kingdom. Brystal is well aware of the severe consequences the book may bring but her curiosity gets the best of her. She reads a certain part of the text out loud and is astonished when a strange phenomenon occurred around her. After hastily putting the book away and making everything seem normal, Brystal tries to ignore the events that had just happened, but it’s easier said than done. A few days later she decides that she should try the incantation one more time before making any life changing decisions however this time Brystal is not as lucky as the first.
Upon discovering that she is capable of magic, Brystal was caught and convicted of trespassing, female literacy and committing magic and is sent to the miserable Bootstrap Correctional Facility after being disowned by her own father. Shortly after her arrival there, Brystal is saved by a mysterious woman named Madame Weatherberry, who whisks her away to her newly established Academy of Magic in an attempt to reverse public prejudice against benevolent magic users, whom she calls fairies to differentiate them from very real, very wicked, witches. At the Academy, Brystal learns to embrace her inner self, achieve her full potential, and reconcile the disparate parts of her identity and she soon creates a tight bond with the other students.
When Madame Weatherberry is suddenly and mysteriously called away, Brystal finds herself in a position where she has to help her friends harness their powers and save the day.
it’s up to Brystal and her newfound school friends to harness their powers and save the day. Along the way, the students discover Madame Weatherberry's true intentions for the academy are not what they seem, and they come face to face with a sinister plot that puts the fate of the world, and the fate of magic itself, in grave danger…
This fascinating series opener is billed as a prequel to Chris Colfer’s original Land of Stories series and it has captivated me from the first sentence. I love Colfer’s writing style and the way he managed to gently communicate the message that “Someone’s existence is never a choice, or a fault, and it’s certainly not a crime” and that you should always embrace who you are in order to achieve your full potential. He includes spectacular descriptions of people and places that are so vivid it is no task at all to picture the breath-taking beauty of Madame Weatherberry’s Academy of Magic or the intriguing traits that define each character and you will soon find yourself completely enthralled with the story. Colfer has created strong, engaging characters and engrossing story line that can stand alone for readers that are new to his work and I highly recommend this book.