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July 26, 2010

Review: Knightley Academy

2010 Finishes: Books

Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher
Genre: YA, alternative history
Pages: 469
Rating: 9

Knightley Academy is set in an alternative version of Victorian England, where there are still knights but they become police and secret service agents and stuff. They're trained at a special school called Knightley Academy, and only the sons of the aristocracy are admitted - until servant boy Henry Grim is allowed in through a loophole in the admission procedures. Partially because of his feat, two other commoners are allowed in, and they, along with the headmaster's wayward daughter, become Henry's best friends. Together they have to figure out how to fit in with the upper-class boys, and discover who is behind the dangerous acts of sabotage directed at them - which may have bigger implications than they realize and not be just about them after all.

This novel was so absorbing that I read most of it in one sitting, and it was completely delightful. It reads a lot like Harry Potter, without the magic - both in the tone and some of the themes of an outsider at a super-selective school, in a world suddenly plunged into grave danger. I don't mean that it's among the legions of Potter knock-offs, though; it's quite original and very well-written. Knightley Academy perfectly combines a cozy British school story with alternate history politics with global stakes. According to the author's Twitter feed, she's working on the sequel now, and I can't wait.

(Note to parents: This is exceptionally clean - I think there's one mention of kissing, and no one actually does anything like that. Some references to "ruined reputations" but no details. And it's exciting without being particularly scary. If you have an advanced reader who's ready for harder/longer books but not some of the heavier themes of a lot of YA, definitely try this one.)

Posted by Kat at July 26, 2010 11:00 AM
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