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26 March 2014

Review: The Book of Spells by Kate Brian

The year is 1915 when sixteen-year-old Eliza Williams arrives at the Billings School for Girls in Easton, Connecticut. Her parents expect her to learn the qualities of a graceful, dutiful wife.

But Eliza and her housemates have a dangerous secret: They're witches.

After finding a dusty, leather bound spell book, the Billings Girls form a secret coven. Bonded in sisterhood, they cast spells - cursing their headmistress with laryngitis, brewing potions to bolster their courage before dances, and conjuring beautiful dresses out of old rags.

The girls taste freedom and power for the first time, but what starts out as innocent fun turns sinister when one of the spells has an unexpected-and deadly-consequence. Magic could bring Eliza everything she's ever wanted... But it could also destroy everything she holds dear.

5 Words: Magic, selfish, silly-little-girls, tragedy, love.

When I first started this, I wasn't so sure about it. But by the end, I knew I'd loved it.

I haven't read any of the Private series itself, but I want to, especially if the writing's as immersing as this. Pity that not a single library in three whole counties near me have the first books. They have books 9-14 though :/ Is it worth reading, fellow readers?

Although the characters appeared to be 15/16 the writing was much younger. But it was refreshing to read a rather "clean" YA that still had intrigue and attraction and naughty-goings-on.

I'm a sucker for boarding school situations. Let's blame that on reading the The Twins at St Clare's and The Worst Witch books growing up. And this book did not disappoint on that front. It reminded me of all of those childhood reading memories, only a little more grown-up, and I probably loved this book all the more for it.

The characters weren't the most likeable I've read. They were pretty much all spoilt little rich girls who were bored and trying to have fun. But that didn't matter, because without that the book wouldn't have worked.

The ending was pretty spectacular, and the build up to it was wonderful. Although there are a few loose ends that I would have preferred were cleared up, I was generally entertained by the book and enjoyed it a lot.

I particularly like how this book can be read on its own. There's no pressure to read the rest of the Private series to better understand the world, and I think this book would likely be rather different anyway, being set almost 100 years in the past.


  1. Thanks for your review Cora, I don't really like the sound of the characters but glad you ended up enjoying it. At least it was a good standalone for you with no obligation to read the series. Lovely review!

  2. This sounds pretty fun! I read Chantress last year and kind of didn't like it at all, so I've been avoiding historical witch books. But gosh, I like the sound of that ending...awesome endings are the BEST. I've never heard of this author...*trots off to Goodreads*

  3. Whoa! That's a gorgeous cover *stares* Yeah! *fist pump* Who doesn't like boarding schools? I love me some! I can blame Vampire Academy for this, heh. It's good to have some variety when it comes to characters--it gets tiring to see broken characters or all good, average and simple girls as MCs so spoilt rich girls? I could work with that for a change, especially in a boarding school. I'm glad you enjoyed this as a whole ;) Great review, Cora!

  4. Oooh, I haven't heard of this author, but this book has got me intrigued...I must check her out! Thanks for the great review. :)


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