Pheonix Holt by Gabriella Lepore

When Sophie Ballester and her twin brothers Sam and Todd are uprooted from their home and sent to a remote boarding school run by their Great Aunt Ness, they stumble upon a hidden room that holds a secret. A secret that will change everything.

The people of Phoenix Holt are not what they seem.

In fact, nothing is.

Pheonix Holt isn’t the sort of book I would normally pick up, but I’d seen a lot about it on Instagram and it was a good price on the Amazon Kindle store so I decided to branch out. I was pleasantly surprised, it had enough mystery to keep you hooked and was a nice length too.

The story begins with Sophie and her older brothers on a train, heading towards their new life with their Great Aunt Ness after their grandfather, who looked after them, has died. Their aunt’s house is an isolated cottage in the middle of some mysterious woods, very different to what they are used to. Ness is the headteacher of a local academy and also works as an apothecary at the weekends.

On arrival at the school, Sophie discovers, to her horror, that it is actually a very small all boys school, with strange lessons about mythical creatures and slightly odd pupils. It soon becomes clear to the three siblings that there is more the their aunt and the school than meets the eye.

*SPOILER*

When the three discover Aunt Ness’ secret apothecary room, they uncover the fact that the Ballester family, including themselves, are witches. They have the unique ability to brew potions with various magical effects. However, they soon realise that this comes at a cost. Some deadly, power-hungry creatures, Divellions, seek their magic. Will they live safely in Phoenix Holt, or will their time there be brief?

*END OF SPOILER*

I’m not normally a fan of magical/fantasy books (apart from Harry Potter) so I was a bit wary about reading this. I’m glad I did though because I did enjoy it. There was good suspense that kept me reading later into the night than I should have. The only criticism I have is that I found the author’s writing style slightly off-putting at times. I don’t know the best way to describe it, it sometimes felt as though she was trying too hard to use a range of words, e.g. for walking/saying, as though she’d picked them from a thesaurus. This didn’t detract too much from the storyline though, I just felt the story, particularly dialogue, didn’t flow as well as it could have in some places. Despite this, I would probably still recommend it if you enjoy mysteries which also have some magical/fantasy elements.

3/5

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