Harry Potter with musical instruments? The premise got me, a Harry Potter fan with 10+ years of music lessons under my belt, pretty flipping excited. My instrument of choice was even the flute (and by the way, major props to the cover artiste for drawing the girl holding the flute with correct positioning of the hands). I don't usually go for middle grade novels, but as a flute player with a fondness for magical schools, it seemed like a win.
Amelia Jones is an effective orphan who lives with her grandmother. Her one wish is to go the prestigious magical musical school called Mystwick, the best in the world. Unfortunately, Amelia is a pretty mediocre musician and knows it, but in the eternal optimism of kids everywhere, that doesn't stop her from auditioning. Surprise, surprise, it flops, and Amelia is broken-hearted. Surprise, surprise, she gets into the school anyway (I don't think that's a spoiler; just take a look at the title and cover, you so know that the girl gets in).
Unfortunately, it turns out that her admittance was kind of a mistake and even though she's already got a friend, her roommate completely resents her presence and is all kinds of hoping that she'll flunk out. Throw in some hauntings, school hazing, and high stakes competitions, and you would expect to have something pretty awesome. Unfortunately, THE MYSTWICK SCHOOL OF MUSICRAFT ended up being a miss for me.
Maybe if I was younger, I would have liked it more. But I think the hallmark of a good middle grade novel is one whose subject matter and character development is mature enough that it appeals to older audiences. MYSTWICK didn't really transcend its target audience of the 9-12 set. There were a couple really good twists in here and I liked the premise, but the actual execution left a lot to be desired, and the characters didn't really have all that much depth. I wish that they'd been fleshed out more. Maybe that would have kept Amelia from feeling like such a blatant Mary Sue.
I'm sorry to say that I can't really recommend this as an adult for either adult or YA readers, but young girls may like it. Definitely err on the younger side of the middle grade sliding scale, though.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars
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