Sunday, January 3, 2021

REVIEW: The Magnolia League (book) by Katie Crouch

The Magnolia League is a YA paranormal fantasy. My copy is an ARC (a very old one, since this was released in 2011).

This review includes slight spoilers.


Alex has lived her entire life at the RC, a hippie commune in California, helping her mother grow medicinal herbs. Sure, the RC grows a little marijuana, but Alex's mother's medicines are what really make the RC famous.

Then everything changes after Alex's mother dies in a car crash. The rich grandmother she didn't even know she had sends a lawyer to pick her up and take her back to Georgia, ripping her away from her new boyfriend and the only life she's ever known. Suddenly she's supposed to be part of something called the "Magnolia League," a sort of club for Southern debutantes. Except that Alex has dreadlocks, is chubby, and has no intention of trading in her t-shirts for designer dresses. However, she might not have much of a choice. Once you become a Magnolia Girl, you're one for life.

This is one of my very old ARCs that I picked up at a past conference and never got around to reading. Better late than never, I guess.

Unfortunately, it didn't appeal to me at all. Yes, Alex's grandmother was snobby, and Madison wasn't much better (I kind of liked Hayes, though - she made an effort to be friendly and seemed genuinely nice). But Alex wasn't all that great either. Almost every opportunity she got, she lectured the people around her about their gas guzzling cars, the unhealthiness of the food they ate, etc. If Hayes and Madison hadn't basically been required to spend time with her, I doubt they'd have stuck around. I don't know that I'd have blamed them. Even though I didn't disagree with Alex, her lecturing and moralizing was off-putting.

Deep down, Alex thought she was better than her fellow Magnolia Girls - not really one of them, more down to earth and "natural." Thaddeus, Alex's eventual love interest, had the usual "not like other girls" moment where he admired Alex for being so different. However, she was shallow too - it just presented differently. She started wearing her hair in dreadlocks when Reggie, the guy she liked back in California, commented on how hot a white girl with dreadlocks he'd seen was. Then when Alex started to think that Thaddeus didn't like her dreadlocks, well, off with the dreads. And hey, I forgot to mention the pot, which she also started smoking because of Reggie - pretty the only thing she didn't do that she knew Reggie wanted was have sex, supposedly because she knew her mom wouldn't have approved (never mind that her mom wouldn't have approved of the pot).

There was some interesting magical politics going on - the rich white Magnolia Leaguers and their dependency upon the Buzzards, a black family filled with long-time hoodoo practitioners - but in this book, Alex only got to nibble at the edges of it. The next book probably delves into that more deeply, but I disliked most of the characters too much to want to continue on. And considering the way this book ended, several of the characters would probably give me even more reasons to dislike them before eventually making up and (I assume) finally figuring out how to break up the Magnolia League and the hold it has on them. No thank you, I'm done.

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