Book Review: The Secret of Spellshadow Manor

An indie fantasy novel published earlier in 2017

Blurb

“A magic school story with a spine-tingling twist, for adults or teens who enjoyed Harry Potter…

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 she 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…”

Why I chose this book

I admit I gave into the hype. I’d not heard of this indie author before, although I understand she’s written quite a variety of paranormal/urban/dystopian type books. However, the ads for this book popped up in my Facebook feed most days. It promised me that if I loved Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, I would love this book. Did I? Read on…

Rating/Content

I give this book a 3 out of 5. 

But that rating is based partly on the fact that it was hyped up to be AMAZING, when in reality, although I would say I enjoyed it, it didn’t blow me away. Had I just grabbed it randomly, it might have got a 4 out of me. Also, I didn’t get as much closure from it as I would have liked, which tends to influence my rating.

The book is suitable for teens, and has an urban fantasy vibe, although magic is the focus rather than beings like vampires or werewolves.

Good points

This book has a good premise. I like the idea of a non-magical teen who has somehow found his way into this creepy school. He’s in danger of being discovered because he doesn’t do magic, and his classmates and teachers are hiding secrets and face an uncertain future.

Bad points

It was nothing like Harry Potter except the two books had a school and magic. It was really nothing like the Hunger Games. So I’m not a great fan of the advertising campaign. But they hey, every other book claims to be the next Harry Potter, so I can’t get too mad. It just didn’t meet my expectations.

The magic system was ill-defined and I didn’t really feel I got to grips with what it could do and how it worked.

It was really depressing. They were stuck in this school for the whole book, and there weren’t really any moments that lightened the book. It felt very dark, and I admit I prefer something more cheery, and less claustrophobic. I suppose that could be seen as a good point, because it was certainly atmospheric, so if you’re keen on a darker style of fantasy, particularly urban, you may enjoy it.

Overall

I won’t be continuing this series, but I would try another book by Bella Forrest. I get the impression that paranormal is more her thing, so I’d be tempted to give one of those a go.

2 Comments

  1. Heather Hayden

    October 4, 2017

    Good review! I’ve seen the book floating around before but tend to be hesitant about claims that it’s like “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games” (or any other popular book…) I’ll know to not let myself get caught by the hype and read it for what it is if I find a copy somewhere.

    • magicwriter author

      October 4, 2017

      Yes, to be honest, I was intrigued to see how well the product matched up to the ad. But not entirely surprised by the result!

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