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Childhood's End
Arthur C. Clarke
Brian Michael Bendis, Olivier Coipel
Scrivener's Moon - Audio
Philip Reeve
Legacies - Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill Legacies is set at Oakhurst, a Hogwarts-like school for magicians. (I might have been able to forget that Oakhurst was like Hogwarts, if the authors didn't keep reminding me.) Every student at the school is an orphan, and all (or most) are children of Oakhurst graduates. Nobody questions the high mortality rate of Oakhurst grads. Every year, roughly eight students go missing, sometimes with a paper-thin cover story. (Such as getting sent to a Muggle hospital to have a broken limb repaired, instead of letting the on-campus healing mages do it, as is standard practice.) Nobody questions this. The students are pushed to be competitive at everything, and teachers go out of their way to discourage friendship groups. Nobody questions this, either. And although one of the above is resolved by the end of the story, the bizarre acceptance of all of this is never explained, nor (you guessed it!) really questioned.

The main plot does indeed follow the mystery of the vanishing students, with many, many dull digressions into how the school works. Although Oakhurst is blatantly copied from Hogwarts, it doesn't have the same sense of magic and wonder about it. This may be a result of the main character's still-dormant magical abilities. She doesn't get to participate in the really fun magical stuff, because she can't do anything yet, or even guess at what she'll be able to do. There are moments in the story that are great: the trip to the subbasement, and the final confrontation. But it's painfully obvious from early on that the Wild Hunt is responsible, to the point where not figuring out the mystery becomes almost an idiot plot. Here's how you can tell if a plot is a little thin: if almost half of a 300 page book has nothing to do with what is meant to be the main plot, and the half that does mostly revolves around the main characters wondering vaguely what they ought to do about it. They end up discovering some really interesting stuff, but that's glossed over too quickly.

The characters themselves are... inoffensive. That's all. There isn't a real standout in the bunch. None of them annoyed me, but none of them were interesting enough that I could care about them beyond this book. Spirit's perspective was fine, but ultimately less than compelling. So no more Shadow Grail series for me. (While I'm on it, there's absolutely nothing about a grail, shadow or otherwise, anywhere in the book. I assume that will be important in later books, but it's a confusing title to slap on the whole series when it's completely irrelevent to everything that happens here.)

There was one moment early in the book that was simply astounding to me. Let me explain by summing up the trauma congo line Spirit has gone through before chapter one even begins. She's in a car accident, which kills both of her parents and her younger sister. She has no other relatives. The same accident left her with unspecified severe injuries. (She has emergency surgery, broken bones, and has to take physical therapy to be able to walk again. Obviously very severe.) While in surgery, her house mysteriously burned to the ground, destroying everything inside. She's about to be sent to an orphanage she's never heard of, in another state. And the hospital orderly thinks she's being "emo" because she's depressed? I mean, her hospital bills are paid for, so she has no reason to complain! I know that health care workers with bad bedside manner do exist, but wow.