Before we get to the review let’s hit all the particulars. The Crowns of Croswald is written by author D.E. Night and is published by Stories Untold Press. The book was first published back in 2017 and full disclosure, I was approached by Stories Untold Press to see if I was interested in taking a look at this first book in the series. Being that I’ve reviewed some YA Fantasy titles in the past, (see my reviews/interviews for Ignite the Sun by Hanna C Howard, Twin Daggers by MarcyKate Connolly, and A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan) I said “Sure! Let’s take a look!”.
The ONLY requirement asked of me was that I read it within a month(CHECK) and that I leave an HONEST review on both Amazon and Goodreads(CHECK and CHECK). I like to let you guys know of these things so you know the review is NOT bought and paid for, rather it’s my full honesty as I think about what I just read.
Ok, lets get to it.
The book opens with a slightly familiar premise of an orphan girl living a life of relative obscurity and poverty, yet having some mysterious friends, a talent for drawing, and dreams that are vividly real.
In those dreams she sees a castle and in that castle is a man. A man she can never quite see fully, and a man that never talks to her.
Almost immediately we’re thrust into the story proper as Ivy(our main character and said orphan girl) is whisked away to a mysterious magic school after a “less than ideal” exit from the castle she grew up a servant in.
Once at the magic school, Ivy is thrust into a world of various magics, mystery, curious beasts, and of course… eventually the threat of… THE DARK QUEEN. But I won’t go too far down that road so as not to spoil anything for you.
Along the way, and largely BEFORE we reach the halfway point of this first book, we meet a whole bunch of quirky and interesting people. From magic teachers in the school to eccentric shop owners, even mysterious ghosts and people long thought dead.
And it doesn’t take long for the threat of danger and the hero’s quest/coming of age tale to get underway in earnest for young Ivy.
There are a few key elements in every fantasy story that can absolutely make or break the tale. The first being the magic system, the second being the creatures and world building.
The magic system in The Crowns of Croswald is interesting. There seems to be two parts to it, and I enjoyed the evolution of the split or division between the two types of magic. There are the those that need magic stones in their crowns to provide them a semblance of magic and there are those with the innate ability.
The division between the two feels at times like a slightly ham-fisted approach of “needing to work together” or “understand that our differences should be celebrated not looked down upon”. There is absolutely a feeling of one group looking down hard on the other, it reminds me of High School Musical in many ways.
I know, I know! Where the heck is this coming from?!
In those movies there are the rich kids that have all the opportunities and “talent” while the kids deemed lower class, aka poor kids, aren’t supposed to have much talent. But of course, once push comes to shove and they are forced to work together, some of the biggest talents come from those less fortunate.
I enjoyed how the different types of magic were presented, even if we don’t get too much of a look at HOW it works. I can only assume that in the next books in the series we’ll be treated to more.
The tough part about this genre is that these days, everything runs the risk of being compared to the legendary Harry Potter. While there certainly were more than a few Harry Potter vibes in terms of general themes, I feel like the magic system and story elements were unique in their own right, making this feel like a familiar yet unique story.
The Bottom Line
Overall, as a YA Fantasy title I think the book was pretty decent. While I’m certainly not the exact target audience, I can see how this would be a highly enjoyable world for a younger audience to get sucked into.
For me, it felt a little bland (though I enjoy the concept of the Scrivenest and the magic in the quills) and a LOT predictable. I think from the earliest chapters, anyone that has enjoyed modern YA fantasy is going to find it’s very predictable, yet still enjoyable, to read.
That’s not always a bad thing however, sometimes it’s nice to be able to get lost in a story without feeling like you have to “figure it out” so you can understand what’s going on.
I give The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night 3 out of 5 stars.
The people, creatures, and magical world of Croswald is worthy of your exploration… assuming you want to zone out with a fun and easy read containing very few surprises that you won’t see coming.