Miss Mabel’s School for Girls by Katie Cross – Review
I received a copy of this novel on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.
Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.
Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.
Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?
Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.
I loved this novel! I found it to be absolutely adorable and charming. The idea of an academy for witches (or vampires, or monsters, or wizards, or anything paranormal nowadays) isn’t new, but Miss Mabel’s School For Girls still took that structure and delivered something entertaining. But this novel is not all school and spells. There is a bigger story at play that affects the entirety of the witching world, a story that our heroine Bianca is critical to.
The story begins with a competition for the position of Assistant to the headmistress, Miss Mabel. As I was reading, I thought that this competition would take up the entire first novel. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the competition was only the beginning of the trials Bianca would have to face in her quest to lift her family’s curse. So much was packed into Miss Mabel’s School for Girls but it didn’t feel rushed or unfinished. There was charming lessons on witching for the various teachers, imaginative trials for the girls in the competitions, and darker lessons from Miss Mabel herself. Cross let the secrets about the witch networks and Bianca’s family out in good time, keeping the reader interested to know more.
One of the strongest points in this novel is the characters and their friendship. Bianca was a fabulous protagonist. She was determined but doubtful, kind but tough when needed. I absolutely loved how she shut down those who spoke ill of her or her friends. The lengths she was willing to go for her family are commendable. Bianca’s friends were also relatable. Camille was a sweetheart who put her friends first and Lena provided a studious foil to her. Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is about young women growing up and taking on responsibilities of adulthood, witching, and the good of the witch networks. I loved that! There were no love triangles! There were no love interests at all! It was incredibly refreshing.
The one thing I didn’t care for was how fast Bianca was able to master certain skills in short periods of time. I recognize that in a fantasy anything is possible but it still felt too convenient. Can you really learn three ancient languages in three weeks on top of loads of other studying? Doubtful. In some of the physical magic duels I felt she should have been thrown about a bit more. Despite her years of training, there are some forces too powerful for Bianca to have performed as she did.
- Charming and entertaining story
- Women! Sisterhood! Power!
- Relatable characters
- Left the reader wanting to know more
The Not So Good
- Wanted her to be a tad less powerful so I can watch her grow even more
Definitely pick this one up! I loved it. It reminded me of A Great and Terrible Beauty in terms of the relationships between the girls and the interwoven magic. As the Goodreads description says, never underestimate the power of a determined witch.