The Crowns of Croswald - Why I Need a Glanagerie
by D. E. Night
Published in 2017
I was approached by an author, D. E. Night, via Instagram (@MrsJBookConfessions) to review her book The Crowns of Croswald. I hadn’t heard of the book prior to this but based on the cover and description, it was going to be similar to Harry Potter in the sense of it following a magical world where students learn to control their magic. Considering I was about 15 years late to the Harry Potter fandom, I was hoping I could be front and center for this series as it continues to grow and develop into its own world.
The Crowns of Croswald begin with Ivy Lovely, a Scaldrony maid at House Plum, where she has been for as long as she can remember. After a disaster in the kitchen, she is kicked out and on her own for the first time when she receives a letter that says she’s been accepted into the Halls of Ivy, a magical school, where she will learn to become a scrivenerist. Scrivenerists are people with photographic memory who can sketch and record all that they see, down to the tiniest detail. Ivy Lovely has wanted to be one, but never thought it was possible until then. Ivy’s first day begins with disaster as she goes head to head with Damaris, the class mean girl. She also begins learning of the different stones in the crowns that royals wear, which allows royals to have advanced powers derived from their family stones. Ivy receives a mysterious letter from “W.M” that says “Welcome Home” even though she can’t ever remember coming to the Halls of Ivy .
During her next class, they experiment with glanageries which are like small bottles full of imaginary worlds that can be visited to practice their magic. When Ivy enters however, she enters a world different from that which her teacher describes and finds a journal by Derwin Edgar Night before returning with the journal back to the class. When her teacher discovers she brought something back from the glanagerie, he immediately brings her to the Selector where they decide it will be thrown into the Forgotten Room that houses all things they think should be better left forgotten. On her way back, she finds Rebecca who turns out to be her roommate and soon close friend. After some strange occurrences studying in a library, Ivy finds a trap door that leads her to “W.M.” himself who turns out to be Winsome Monocle. She begins visiting in-between classes and learning about the dangerous potions he plays around with.
Ivy decides she wants to break into the forgotten room to retrieve the journal she found and see why they are so desperate to hide it. Rebecca and Ivy find the Kallegulous Key to open the forbidden door and retrieve the journal. Fyn and Ivy later follow the Selector to Hollow’s Shaft where they overhear how concerned they are for Ivy’s safety. At their masquerade ball, Ivy runs into the Dark Queen herself who threatens Ivy and her friends. She learns the Dark Queen killed her parents and sister and that she is actually a royal who is heir to the throne. After breaking a stone, which causes the Dark Queen to disappear, she learns that the Dark Queen is actually an imperfection that escaped a glanagarie. She is told she will find more answers by venturing to the town.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 6/10
I first want to point out that this novel is targeted towards a younger audience, preferably in their middle school years. Therefore, the rating I am giving is with that audience in mind, because if I am going to be honest, this book was not my cup of tea. My biggest complaint with this novel is that there is very little background information on the characters, creatures, and history which makes it very difficult to follow along while reading. For example, everyone seems to be terrified of the Dark Queen but she doesn’t seem all that bad! The “worst” came out towards the end when she tries to attack Ivy at the end and even then I wouldn’t really call it an attack. Overall, it’s just very anti-climatic. I also felt that the ending was very abrupt with her deciding she’s going to the town next, and then the book just ending. There was no real “ending” that I was satisfied with and my biggest pet peeve in books are those with an abrupt ending just to get you to get the next book to continue reading.
I also have yet to understand why a scrivenerist is so important. I understand they are recording history in a way but what is buried in that history that is so important that it’s a coveted and complex process to become one? Maybe this will be revealed in future books but for now it just seems like a really strange rip-off of Wizards. My final complaint is this book is clearly very heavily influenced by Harry Potter so everytime I see a “new” part of the Crowns of Croswald world, the more it just reminds of something that has already been done in Harry Potter. For example the quills are clearly wands and scrivenerist is like a wizard and even the classes are very similar with potions and Croswald animals. The book does it’s best to be original such as adding the Forgotten Room and the addition of royals and magical stones in their crowns, but it’s not enough to separate itself as something completely new.
Putting my own personal complaints aside, I do think this is a book that a new generation of fantasy and magic lovers will enjoy. For the younger generations that haven’t experienced Harry Potter before, this will be a fun adventure to follow as Ivy Lovely learns more about her special powers and training and more about her family. Ivy Lovely is an adventurous and kind character that many young readers will enjoy reading about and find a lot they can identify with. I also like the addition of the magical stones in the crowns with each having their own individual power that a royal can have from extreme speed to turning into animals. One of the most unique aspects introduced was the glanagerie - and I have to admit I was really excited about this! Since professors would like their rooms not to be totally destroyed when practicing magic (Harry Potter, take some notes), they have created glanagerie worlds where they can create a “practice room” in whatever setting they prefer, and transport the class into it for class practice. I loved the concept of this because it’s creates opportunity to get really creative in the kinds of worlds that will be created in the glanagerie. I also thought it was interesting how throughout the book, they made it clear that NOTHING should be brought back from a glanagerie, and then reveal at the end of the book that the Dark Queen was an imperfection herself brought back from a glanagerie which explains why they are so scared and strict about that rule.
Overall, this is a must read for new readers! D. E. Night has imagined different creatures and spells and functions that create really fun moments. One of my favorites was a prank pulled by the class mean girl to Ivy by turning on her pet dragon(these dragons are also ovens that make different meals) into making hundreds of pies while she was sleeping so she wakes up to a room full of freshly baked pies… a dream for everyone but a nightmare to clean. It’s interesting to turn a dragon, which is usually this horrible, fearsome creature, into a comedic point as I have never heard of a dragon that just makes pies all night. I also can tell that the Forbidden Room itself will be a core part of many future adventures as it is just chock full of all kinds of things that others have forgotten about. With Ivy so far being one of the only ones we know who seems immune to the “forgetting” affects, it’ll be fun to see what other secrets she will uncover in this room.