16 june, 2017
A teenage orphan enters a curious school and encounters mysteries and dangerous secrets in this first installment of a debut YA fantasy series.
Life in Croswald is about to change for 16-year-old orphan Ivy, a lowly castle maid in charge of the kitchen “scaldrons,” oven-heating, fire-breathing dragons. Fleeing the castle after a messy scaldron mishap, Ivy hops a strange conveyance
that transports her to a school for potential quill-wielding, spell-casting “scrivenists.” (The author’s creative language—students are “sqwinches,” and “hairies” are lanterns housing fairies with luminous hair—is one of the book’s
pleasures.) Learning that there is more to her gift for sketching than she realized, Ivy studies spells and the magical properties of inks and quills, but strange things keep happening.
Why is an old scrivenist, long thought dead, working in secret? Why is the head of the oddly familiar school moving paintings to the “Forgetting Room” so that no one will remember they existed? How can Ivy get a look at a certain journal
stored there, and what does it have to do with her recurrent dream? And why has Ivy drawn the interest of the Dark Queen of Croswald and her truly fearsome Cloaked Brood? The intrigue is layered with such whimsical inventions as one
school lunchroom run by ghostly bad cooks and another by a jester who is best avoided, scrivenists who end their lives as tomes in a library, and small houses pulled by a gargantuan flying beast with its own weather system. Yes, there
are many Harry Potter–ish elements: a school for young wand-wielders, quirky shops dealing in enchanted student supplies, eccentric characters, spells gone wrong, an evil pursuer. But Night’s blend of magic, danger, and suspense (and
a touch of steampunk) is a well-realized, fresh fantasy world all its own, and Ivy is an appealing protagonist of relatable complexity. A few bobbles: Ivy seems to go without food for long stretches; the use of “effected” rather than
“affected”; a professor who is both standing and perched on a chair.
Harry Potter–like threads spun into a fresh, enjoyable mix of magic and mystery.
June 6, 2017
Full of conjuring, creative creatures, and colorful characters, The Crowns of Croswald is a thoughtful, action-driven middle grade fantasy.
Attending the Halls of Ivy, the hallowed school for those with royal or magical blood, has always seemed like a faraway dream for almost-sixteen-year-old Ivy Lovely until an unexpected invitation changes her life forever in D. E.
Night’s enchanting middle grade adventure, The Crowns of Croswald. Overnight, Ivy goes from scaldrony maid to sqwinch, her lackluster duties as a kitchen drudge and stovetop dragon keeper replaced with glamorous classrooms, extravagant
dining halls, and a bevy of entitled princes and princesses learning to control and hone their magic. Excited as she is to be a prospective scrivenist, or sqwinch, something in the Halls isn’t quite right, hinting at dark secrets and
a forgotten past that continues to haunt her dreams.
Fairies, dwarves, and a Dark Queen, combined with Ivy’s ashes-to-ballroom transformation, set the scene for a Cinderella-like fairy tale, but Ivy is no damsel in distress. She’s timid and unsure with bouts of rebellion and growing in confidence
and determination; tweens, teens, and young adults will relate to Ivy’s struggle to find herself amid the excitement of a new school and her emerging talents. It doesn’t hurt that third-year student Fyn “ok-maybe-he’shandsome” Greeley
seems to have a crush on her, along with a shared penchant for bending the rules.
Some details will seem familiar to those who love the genre, the Halls of Ivy bearing an uncanny resemblance to Hogwarts at times, complete with figures moving within picture frames, shady professors, resident ghosts, a shopping hub for
buying magical school supplies, and sneaking about after hours solving mysteries. But Ivy’s trials and the skills of a scrivenist are fresh and unique, particularly the dichotomy between the royals, who gain their personal magic from
the gems in their crowns, and the scrivenists who ultimately work in tandem with them, using quills and innate magic to complement the crown, not to mention the shared blood and history between the two that comes to light the more
Scrivenists one and all revere and share a love of books, and clever titles and subjects abound, from Perfectly Imperfect Potions and The Compass Collectis: A Collection for Collaboration and Comprehension to cheeky local newspaper Scriven
This. These tongue twisters, along with a number of zany classroom mishaps and an entertaining cast of supporting characters, add a lighthearted element and a bit of humor to the sinister curses and nefarious plans of the shadowy Dark
Queen. Full of conjuring, creative creatures, and colorful characters, The Crowns of Croswald is a thoughtful, actiondriven middle grade fantasy that will leave audiences clamoring to find out what happens next in Ivy’s magical world.
The Children’s Book Review
May 15, 2017
The Crowns of Croswald is a young adult novel that takes the reader into the world of Ivy Lovely, a young girl whose hidden magical powers are revealed to her after her sixteenth birthday. The book begins with details about the fantastical
world that Ivy lives in, and the struggles she has in her life, and then introduces the mystery that will then be revealed throughout the rest of the story.
D.E. Night creates a complicated character in young Ivy, whose world is full of intriguing characters and unforeseen events. Throughout the story, the author creates a narrative that pushes readers to infer the meaning of different terms,
such as sqwinch and scrivenist, throughout the story, creating a stimulating experience requiring attention and imagination. Additionally, beautiful imagery used throughout creates a vivid picture of the fantastical world in which
the characters live:
“The moon, though gorgeous, was only a shadow of what the Moonsday holiday celebrated: a strange double moon (twice as large, twice as shimmery) that used to occur once a year.”
The author’s writing style has depth and the book’s plot becomes intertwined with the descriptions and characters around it. Ultimately, readers of The Crowns of Croswald will find fulfillment as this very detailed story weaves together
satisfying events with a comprehensive backdrop.
This book is recommended for young teen readers who enjoy darker and more challenging books that have rich storytelling and a significant amount of characters and plots. Readers that enjoy intricate tales in a fantasy world will revel
in this original story that can surprise and delight until the very end.