Boarding schools. Myths and legend. Orphans. Wish fulfillment. Questionable authority figure behavior. Add in a little mystery, a dollop of angst and the faintest hint of teenage romance, and you’ve got Legacies, the first in a series by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill. The Shadow Grail books feature magical teen orphans who are sent to a Montana boarding school called Oakhurst – and the school is hiding secrets and peril. Wondering if Legacies ticks ALL of the cliché boxes? It does, without irony.

Spirit White has survived from a deadly car crash that has killed her mother and father and her sister. She has been discovered by a school with special talents, called magic. A couple of months after staying, people begin to disappear, some vanish to be never seen again, so Spirit and her new friends begin the investigation. But will they find out the truth of what is going on? Or will Spirit and her friends suffer a terrible fate from which they don't know about yet?

Spirit White survives a horrific accident that kills the rest of her family, and after extensive therapy is bundled off to a school in the middle of nowhere – one that provides for her every need and also tells her that she has latent magical abilities. While Spirit makes friends and gets to know her surroundings, everyone she knows is under threat. Will she survive?

First of all, to the rhetorical ‘question’ I ask (and the official summary asks) above – OF COURSE she survives. There’s a book two! Secondly, ohmydeargoodness, there were so many things that rubbed my skin the wrong way with this book. Stand back and let me get started with the evisceration. I mean… analysis.

There were two instances that stood out to me as clearly abusive adult behavior for no apparent reason (no plot or character development occur as a result): first in the hospital, when Spirit is berated by an orderly who is named but has no other back story. He’s clearly a placeholder, which could be okay, but he yells at our main character. Who is healing and mourning. In, you know, a hospital. The situation is just so weird and out of place that the warning bells went off immediately. And the second, with the headmaster… we have a clear instance of TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) syndrome, my dears. If you can’t see that that’s unhealthy, you have no survival skillz, and you might deserve my contempt. Moving on!

Wish fulfillment – this is one element of Legacies that brought me out of the story over and over again. I understand, the place is luxurious and they’re given everything. However, the time spent describing consumer items would be better spent on the actual setting (and would alleviate a lot of confusion in the story world).

Another thing that constantly grabbed attention away from the action was the mishandling of cultural references and teen communication. Technology use didn’t fit the age group, the IM speak was embarrassing, and there was an Anna Nicole Simpson reference. That’s almost too old for me, and I’m 27 (not the target market). Mess.

Put all of the mismatched elements together, and a story won’t hold well (for me), no matter how good the plot. And you know what? The plot in Legacies was the only thing that kept me reading. Total bright spot, even if you can tell from a mile away that this is a set-up book. If you’re into the whole orphan-with-magic-in-a-boarding-school thing, may I point you in the direction of Jennifer Estep’s Touch of Frost? Same clichés, but with more humor and sass. Or if you do try this series – remember that I warned you!

Recommended for: die-hard fans of magic in school settings, Mercedes Lackey enthusiasts wondering what she’s serving up to the younger set, and those with an incurable sense of optimism. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Okay, sounds like I'll just be skipping this one.

April Books & Wine said...

I really enjoy magic school settings but get a HOW ABOUT NOT vibe for this book after reading your review.

So many books, so little time and this TOTALLY helps me weed out the TBR.

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