NESFA Members' Reviews

A School for Sorcery

by E. Rose Sabin

Starscape, 2003 [2002], ISBN 0-765-34219-7

A book review by Elisabeth Carey

This is a remarkably silly book.

Tria, the daughter of a farmer who hates the idea of magic and his wife who had the chance to go to sorcery school but eschewed magic in favor of marrying the farmer, gets a partial scholarship to the Leslie Simonton School for the Magically Gifted. By the usual family politics means, off Tria goes at the start of the new school term. Alas, the Simonton School, which has such lovely brochures, proves to be a rundown dump so short on housekeeping staff that the students have to do most of the chores--and there are only thirty-six students altogether. Clearly, this is a school long past its best days, scraping by with the students whose families don't know enough to pick a better school.

No other explanation occurs to Tria even after she discovers that the crummy food in the school dining hall is an illusion and that her more suspicious and less docile roommate, Lina Mueller, and Lina's tablemates, are enjoying their meals.

Tria is a good kid, of the best intentions, and Lina is ah, um, this is a kids' book, rhymes with "rich", yeah, that's it, who turns into a black panther when she gets annoyed. Tria's first challenge is surviving her roommate and working out a successful armed truce with her.

Lina , though, is just a, ah, that word again. A few of the boys at the school are really, really bad, and before the term is very far progressed, she finds herself involved in a serious magical challenge against Oryon, the most powerful and malevolent of the Really Bad Boys, for control of the school and the lives of her boyfriend Wilce and his friend Gray. Lina, somewhat to the annoyance of both girls, turns out to be not only one of her allies, but the toughest of them. In light of the terrible consequences of losing, Tria is swayed by Lina's arguments that they have to use any means necessary to win. When the headmistress and other instructors warn her that good results can't come from bad means, and that ethical conduct increases her strength, she looks around at the decrepit, failing school (remember the meals?) and concludes that they're mouthing platitudes when she needs practical advice and help. In the end, of course, virtue triumphs, and even the sweet but dense Tria figures out what's going on.

Lightweight and annoying. As boarding school stories go, whether of the magjcal or non-magical variety, this one's a miss.

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