Author: Katie Cross
Series: The Network Series, #1
Bianca Monroe is cursed. Her grandmother has been taken ill, succumbing to the magic that has plagued their family for three generations. Bianca is determined to save her by finding the witch that cursed her family and convincing her to revoke the curse. To do so, Bianca must enroll in Miss Mabel’s School for Girls where she must earn a place as Miss Mabel’s assistant in order to get close to the famous witch. But Miss Mabel is more cunning than Bianca ever anticipated and though she may have the skills, Bianca may not have the experience to outwit the witch before the curse ends her own life.
“Maybe she didn’t know that there was a fine line between courage and lunacy. I felt like I flirted with if often, dancing with on foot on either side like a child.”
I loved the concept of Katie Cross’s Miss Mabel’s School for Girls more than the execution. A school catered to teaching magic to young women is an intriguing setting. Unfortunately, not much time is spent exploring the classes and school life because Bianca’s journey is mostly a solitary one. Bianca’s new friends, Camille and Leda, are delightful and strange, but I wish they were more involved in Bianca’s story rather than being mere spectators. Each girl brings something different to the table, but neither character is fully explored in this installment. Several other characters who appear in the first half of the book disappear in the second which made the ensemble of characters and the setting feel a little thin.
I did find the second half of the book more interesting than the first after we are finally introduced to Miss Mabel. For such a wicked women, I couldn’t understand why so many seemed to be so loyal to her. Most of her interactions are with Bianca, so it’s hard to tell whether or not she shows a different side to the other teachers. Still, I found her interesting despite her harsh methods of instruction. Bianca showcases bravery, resourcefulness, and skill throughout the book that had me wishing we were more privy to her earlier training. The curse that plagues her family is touched upon briefly, but Bianca, who refuses to discuss the details, never exhibits enough vulnerability to move me as a reader.