I try to avoid spoilers in my review, yet also include more than you would get from a blurb or general description. Since the book is free on Kindle, you may want to just read it for yourself!
Review of the Unexpected Enlightenment Series (so far)
If you like Charles Williams, The Chronicles of Narnia, Terry Pratchett, Harry Potter, and reading about folklore and history, then you’ll probably love these books. In any case, there are three people in my family who have highly diverging interests (myself, one of my sisters, and one of my brothers), and all three of us love these books immensely. Even people who don’t usually like weird things or even Fantasy will probably like these books. They’re the kind of books you could “eat every day”. For myself, I personally connect to the strangeness of the events and the setting, so I am grateful for the existence of these books, and I very much look forward to following the rest of the story.
The friendships, animosities, dilemmas, loyalties, sweetness, confusion, and playfulness that goes on is so realistic and personal; the books have started so many conversations in our house. The clashes of purpose and understanding are boldly entered into and reflected on with sincerity.
The plot is creative and strange as well as the setting. There is a more realistic amount of significant characters and interactions, and the spice of an obviously real interest in the strange things of myth and lore. It’s overarching plot is probably the most unique idea, when overarching plots are usually the least creative part of a series. It didn’t seem at first that further books would be able to have higher stakes after the dramatic beginning, but it follows the appropriate device of having creatively different stakes every time.
I dislike the illustrations: while I have nothing against the style (as an artist I find it unethical to be against whole styles, haha) I think it distracts from the story, and clashes with the tone of the writing to some degree.
I love the cover art, especially the 3rd, 4th, and 5th; can’t wait to see more. I also like the colour scheme: green, orange(ish), blue, purple, and red.
I think there are possibly one or two “bad language words” in the series so far, but the subject matter often gets too scary for young kiddies anyway. 🙂
My favourite (interestwise) part so far is when you-know-what exploded, and what followed. So well foreshadowed yet so entirely unexpected.
My favourite (interestwise) character is sort of a spoiler, sorry.
Music that I think goes with the series pretty well:
- Professor Pumplestickle by Two Steps from Hell
- Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Summer
- Wind and Wood by Celtic Muse
Review of the First Book in Particular
It’s a good welcome to the world, and gets you started bleeding in all the right places (you will bleed a lot in the books to come). Rachel Griffin arrives at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, and soon makes enemies, friends, and ambiguous liaisons.
Roanoke and the arts that it teaches are splendidly interesting and unique, as is the entire world of the Wise. The book gives a better sense of the worldwide scope of magic and the people that use it than many other magic school books seem to, even if they try.
The plot of the series as a whole is entered into very well in this book, both in the urgent and immediately perilous sense, and in the gradual unravelling of the mysteries Rachel finds herself confronted with. The very complex and different world is not really allowed to overwhelm you (except in a good sense of course), at least I myself do not recall any explanation that seemed out of place or superfluous. Read your way along and take it all in. You can tell the author is talking about what she loves.
My favourite character in this book (and possibly overall) is Magdalene Chase. I kind of wish she came into the further books more.
Music that I think would go with this book pretty well:
I hope you read and love these books as much as I and my family have! And maybe you can help us politely hound the author for more. 😉