Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Review: Magic in Manhattan Series by Sarah Mlynowski

The Magic in Manhattan series by Sarah Mlynowski consists of four books: Bras & Broomsticks, Frogs & French Kisses, Spells & Sleeping Bags, and Parties & Potions. The series follows Rachel Weinstein as she learns about witchcraft and tries to get her perfect boyfriend.

The first two books of the series deal with with Rachel's rather typical high school life, and family life which includes her new witch sister, her witch mother (who has kept this facet of her life hidden from her daughters until this point), her dad (who is divorced from her mom), and her dad's girlfriend and her daughter. In these books, Rachel often comes across as unlikeable, and both her and her sister Miri tend to feel more like stereotypes than like real people to me. The books do not flow very well and the plot elements are overdone.

In the third book, Rachel and Miri go to summer camp, and both of the characters develop a bit. I enjoyed this book a lot more than the first two. This may be due at least partly to the summer camp element. I love summer camp stories.

The fourth book, Parties & Potions is the real winner of the series. Rachel and Miri both emerge as fully developed characters with both positive and negative traits. The books' situations seem realistic (given the obviously non-realistic witch theme), and Rachel faces real dilemmas and arrives as character that we can relate to and like as she explores who she is and the meaning of love. Unfortunately this book is not a stand alone read so you have to slog through the first two and breeze through the third to get to this last one which is a bit deeper and a lot better story.

I would recommend these books to those who like books about teen witches. If you have already read the first two, definitely go on and finish, even if your reaction to those was only so-so. You will be glad that you did.

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