Review: The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

 

Title: The Magnolia League

Author: Katie Crouch

Publisher: Poppy

ISBN: 978-0316078498

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When her free-spirited mother dies in a tragic accident, sixteen-year-old Alexandria Lee is forced to leave her West Coast home and move in with a wealthy grandmother she’s never known in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful if unwilling member of the Magnolia League-Savannah’s long-standing debutante society. But white gloves and silk gowns are a far cry from the vintage t-shirts and torn jeans shorts she’s used to.

Alex is the first in decades to question the Magnolia League’s intentions, yet even she becomes entangled in their seductive world. The members enjoy youth, beauty and power…but at what cost? As Alex discovers a pact between the Magnolias and the Buzzards, a legendary hoodoo family, she discovers secrets-some deadly-hidden beneath the glossy Southern veneer.

New York Times bestselling author Katie Crouch’s poignant and humorous voice shines in this enchanting and mysterious story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.

Review:

When I started reading The Magnolia League, I didn’t know what to expect.  I was drawn to the book because of the cover, and the Savannah setting seemed interesting.  Toss in some black magic and a clique of women from old money with powerful ambitions, and I was eager to dive into this one.  It turned out to be an enthralling read, and I finished it in less than a day.  I couldn’t put it down, and I even wanted to skip my much anticipated visit to Red Lobster for their Lobster Fest.  If you know anything about me, you know that the only thing I like better than a good book is a good meal, so that’s saying a lot!

Alex is reeling from her mother’s death and when her grandmother sends for her, she doesn’t want to have anything to do with the old woman.  She has been raised in a commune, and the thought of leaving the only home she has ever known, as well as her boyfriend, Reggie, has her fighting to stay right where she is.  She isn’t given much choice, however, and she finds herself in Savannah, a hot and humid prison compared to the cool ocean breezes and freedom of Rain Catcher Farm.  To make things worse, her grandmother expects her to behavior like a Southern lady, and to stop being so embarrassing.  Her grandmother is a member of the Magnolia League, a debutante society that wields enormous power over their community.  All of the women in the Magnolia League are beautiful and wealthy, and Alex slowly learns that they are also keeping dark secrets as well.  Their prosperity and social standing are due to a pact made with the Buzzards, a family that practices black magic.  Stay on their good side and you thrive, but get on their bad side and suddenly life becomes very, very dangerous.

I loved Alex. She is naïve and so different from her grandmother and the others in the Magnolia League that she might as well be an alien.  She is also flawed, and as she learns more about the magic that keeps her grandmother and her cronies in power, she begins to give in to the enticing pull of the spells.  Her transformation from idealistic crusader of social issues to society belle is convincing due to the gradual shift in her acceptance of hoodoo.  She slowly goes from resisting her grandmother’s expectations and demands, to indifferent acquiescence, to active participation as she is seduced by the powerful charms of the charismatic Buzzard family.  

The conflict between Alex and her grandmother also kept me involved in the story.  Miss Lee is a crafty woman, and you know that she is willing to do anything to keep the power of the Magnolia League relevant in her community.  She’s been in power for a long time, and she likes it that way.  She isn’t willing to give it up, or to let anyone else know the secret that she and her cronies are hiding.  There is too much at stake, and she will sacrifice anything to keep the status quo.  She is a pretty scary old lady!  Alex knows that there is something strange going on, and though she is hopelessly clueless for too long, she does slowly begin asking more questions, and begins to demand some answers.   This was the most frustrating aspect of the story for me; Alex is a smart girl, she has good instincts, but she is too passive for a majority of the book.

I do have to deduct a few points for the ending.  Or non-ending, I should say.  The book closes with a major cliffhanger; nothing is wrapped up, and instead, events are pushed into motion that I wanted at least a few answers for.  The last few chapters are a flurry of activity, revealing more questions, more intrigue, and more danger that just trails off with the last page.  As a reader, I expect at least a little closure – there isn’t any to be found here, and that was very frustrating.  You can bet that I will be reading book two, though, but I disappointed with myself for falling for this over-used publishing ploy.

Grade: B+ (Slight deduction for cliffhanger ending)

Review copy provided by Book It Forward Tours