Originally posted 24th May 2017

“What would you do if you spotted a man following a young woman, but no-one else could see him?
Like most sane people, student Alex Webber thought he was hallucinating – perhaps he’d consumed something bad at the party he’d been attending that night, or he was severely overtired. But when he sees the mysterious man following Natalie again the very next day, he can no longer disbelieve his eyes.

Although Natalie denies the man’s existence, Alex sees her walking with him down a road in his neighborhood he’s never seen before – and can’t help but follow. After a bizarre, but strangely short journey, he finds himself standing before a towering iron gate wreathed in gray ivy, behind which looms a decrepit old mansion named Spellshadow Manor.

Spellshadow, with its beautiful yet sinisterly decorated hallways, ever-changing outdoor scenery and very unusual residents… Alex will quickly learn it is a place that is as wondrous as it is deadly.

Especially for a normal person like him.

What if you found yourself recruited to an institute of magic, only to discover you really couldn’t do magic?

What if your enrollment there was all one big, terrible mistake?
If you were at Spellshadow, you’d keep it a secret. A deep, dark, deadly secret…

Because Spellshadow’s elusive Head is hiding a secret of his own, one that Alex soon realizes he and Natalie must uncover at all costs if either of them wishes to leave the Manor alive… and before it’s too late.”

Why did I pick up this book?

Well that’s simple, it’s because the marketing campaign and so many reviews said “If you love Harry Potter you’ll love this series!” and I love Harry Potter. See, simple.

The thing is if Harry Potter was only magic, a magical school and whacky teachers, then sure this may have been a new era of Harry Potter for me. The problem I have with the teachers is that they seem to take the worst traits from the Hogwarts teachers and that’s it, there’s no real redeeming qualities to them – and I suppose they’re written that way because we’re supposed to dislike the majority of them.

Now, did I dislike the book? Not really no. There were characters I really liked, there was humour, there was suspense and there was a distinct focus on friendship.

Some of the problems within this book were that though there’s a focus on friendship you’re never truly sure on who you can trust. Another issue I have is the knight in shining armour approach, I understand elements to this at the beginning because it’s required for the development of the story and on some levels it makes sense. However, when you’re halfway through the story and there’s still a questioning of abilities it got somewhat stale.

I think another issue is that because there wasn’t a lot of character development I don’t feel so attached to any of them in particular, I think there’s one character throughout the book where I would be annoyed if they were written out in some way. One. Other than that they seem very one dimensional so far and it’s difficult to connect with them.

I think I found it frustrating also because even by the end of the book you still had so many unanswered questions. Perhaps that worked because will it stop me from reading the sequel? No, I actually would like to read the sequel.

This is the first book in the series and, while I can’t say I’m head over heels in love with it, I am willing to continue onwards with the story, if only to get some much needed answers.

If you can’t tell I’m very much on the fence with this one however, if you have read it, or are planning to read it, let me know because I feel some discussion is needed for this one!

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