Friday, March 11, 2011

ARC Review: THE MAGNOLIA LEAGUE

The Book: THE MAGNOLIA LEAGUE
The Author: Katie Crouch
The Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (an Imprint of Hatchette Book Group)
Release Date: May 3, 2011

Summary:
Louisa Lee, hippie herbalist and organic foods (not to mention pot) farmer, has died, leaving her sixteen year old daughter Alexandria all alone...but not for long.  Shortly after her mother's death, Alex is whisked away from the earthy, flower child existence she's enjoyed her whole life and thrown into the rich world of Southern decadence by her grandmother, Miss Dorothy Lee, founder and president of the Magnolia League.

At first, Alex is appalled at the wasteful nature of her new friends, not to mention their gluttonous attitudes toward everything: food, material goods, boys.  The MGs (or Maggots as some of the non-MGers refer to the group of rich, privileged girls) want for nothing.  The world is theirs for the taking...well, as long as they don't ever leave Savannah.

There are dark forces at work within the Magnolia League, whose roots date much farther back than the original charter of the group in 1957.  Alex soon discovers just what is going on with this group of women who never seem to age (her own grandmother looks closer to 35 than the 70-odd years she should be), never lack for funds even though the rest of the world is falling on hard times, and of course, always have boys drooling after them.

But, by the time Alex uncovers the true depth of the Magnolia League's powers, she's already thoroughly mired in it herself...and not quite sure she wants to give all that luxury up.

My Take:
To be honest, I've kind of shied away from any kind of paranormal/supernatural reading lately.  So, I was a little shy of picking this one up, but I'm very glad I did.  For many reasons.

The imagery is stellar.  It's obvious Crouch is familiar with low county living, and that knowledge of the region engages the reader right from the beginning.  While I don't, nor have I ever lived in Savannah, GA, I have visited numerous times and am thoroughly in love with the region.  Crouch painted an entirely realistic picture of today's Savannah while coloring with tremendous flavor and charm.

The witchy element really pulled me in.  And, when I say witchy, I mean Hoodoo.  I have to say, everything she outlined when it came to spells and conjures rang true...not that I know anything about that stuff, but it felt real while reading, and that's the whole point of good story-telling.  So, two thumbs up there.

However, there were a couple things that I wasn't all that thrilled with.  First being the romance with Thaddeus seemed a little flat, somewhat surface.  From her side, all she could talk about was how hot he was...and how snobby.  Yeah, there were some asides about how he liked to read the same things she did and how he was quiet and shy, but that only served to sell the reader on his feelings being deeper than looks.  And, really, let's face it.  Alex is no prize to begin with, physique-wise.  Also, Alex herself seems a little holier-than-thou at the beginning.  She's constantly spouting off about how her new friends are wasteful, money-grubbers. Right to their faces!  I mean, if it were me, I'd probably be thinking those kinds of things, but I'm not sure I'd be so mean to people I hardly know (who by the way are trying to be your friends) right off the get go.  But, hey.  That's just me.

As for the ending, I felt it was perfect for this book.  I'm not going to spoil anything for you fun folks, but I've read a few reviews on this one already that complain about a huge cliffhanger.  For me, this book didn't end just drop off.  Yes, there were some strings left dangling, but most of the action was resolved all the while fanning the flames for more to come.  To me, a cliffhanger is when the writer stops right in the middle of the action and you're left screaming at the book and calling the writer all sorts of colorful names.  (ahem...DELIRIUM anyone?) 

MAGNOLIA LEAGUE definitely left me wanting more though, so I will be sure to check out WHITE GLOVE WAR when it comes out next year.  Oh, the wait.  Damn you, Katie Crouch *shakes fist and glares*