Grace, Jenny, Rachel, Una, and Adie are four friends training to be witches. In addition to being their regular classroom instructors, Mrs. Quinlan and Ms. Lemon are teaching them witchcraft. But to be honest, it's pretty boring. The girls spend all their time studying and drawing herbs and plants. They want to practice spells. Their interest is piqued even more when Ms. Lemon takes them on a trip to Mr. Pamuk's magic shop to get supplies. While exploring the shop, Grace finds an enchanted looking glass with a scary creature looking back at her. The same creature, whom she dubbed Mirror Man, in nightmares and who was now in their world!
When the new social studies teacher (and witch) Ms. Gold arrives on campus, Mrs. Quinlan and Ms. Lemon are not happy. It is quickly apparent that the three women used to be friends. Ms. Gold disagrees with their "theory" classes and offers to teach them spells. The girls agree to take lessons with her when they aren't with their other teachers and are excited to be practicing witchchraft. At the same time her friends are spending more time with Ms. Gold, Grace is trying to deal with the Mirror Man. Using a time travel spell, Grace returns to a time when the teachers were teenage friends to secure their help in getting Mirror Man back where he belonged. Traveling back and forth in time may not be enough, and things are getting more dangerous. Not just for Grace, but for everyone involved. Wil she figure out a solution in time?
First, let me say that I don't think you need to read Demon Notebook (Book 1) before you read The Broken Spell. There are some references to the magical mishap in that story, but this story is pretty self contained. In fact, if Book 1 is like this one, you may find it hard to navigate. Grace is a likeable character, and the story moves through her eyes. It also moves back and forth through time, with the author changing the names of the three teachers (Meredith Gold, Beth/Bethany Lemon, Vera Miller/Quinlan) based on "location." In the past, the women are identified by first name; in the present, with a "Ms" in front. I spent nearly the entire book flipping back and forth to remember - and I'm an adult reader.
Overall, this is a nice read. The story moves along at an even pace, but be prepared for lots of commotion toward the last fourth of the book. Lots of stuff going on - think "big magical battle" (but not as good or creative as Harry's). Other than mentioned above, the characters are easy to keep up with. Delilah is an interesting "drop in," and it isn't until very late that you learn a little more about her. Her story has an interesting ending [no spoilers], and I wished that she was more well developed character given her roll at the end.
Readers who like fantasy will enjoy the mystery of trying to find out what happened "way back when." Readers who love mysteries and time travel will find the magic and action enjoyable.
The teachers' names change based on where they are in "time." When Grace is back in the 1970s, the women go by their first names. When they are in the present, they are more formal (except when talking with each other). Because the interplay is so important to the story, readers need to be aware that it gets very confusing trying to keep the characters straight.
This is the second book in a fantasy series about a group of friends learning to become witches.
Setting the witchcraft and fantasy aside, the story offers some interesting ideas about relationships.
- What was Delilah's relationship with her mother? Why do you think she decided to go to Mrs. Quinlan and Ms. Lemon.
- Should Grace have forgiven Jenny so quickly? Or do you think it took her too long?
- What do you think the friendships will be like going forward?
- What about the relationships with their teachers?
- Do you think Grace will ever fess up to stealing the magical item?
10 and Up
10 and Up
Borrow or skip. The story can get confusing and is fairly predictable.