This story was a fun, light-hearted, young adult romp that had its tongue placed firmly in cheek for much of the book.
The main character Mildred, thinks she’s probably been born into the wrong family. She’s been raised by her four aunts, Opalisa, Lilith, Anklistine and Hurda, who are all black witches of well established ill-repute in the witching community. Her mother Drakin, was apparently the Valedictorian of Black Magic Academy, and died taking out her Death-Enemy (and Black Magic Academy Salutatorian) Welsa.
Mildred doesn’t care about Death-Enemies, or curses, or luring hapless “Normals” into her garden to steal bewitched cabbages. She’d much rather read about heros and princesses, but the one time her aunts caught her reading “that trash” they’d threatened to burn it. Not that Mildred’s actually seen much of the world except for her aunts. Aunt Opalisa is the oldest and most powerful of her four aunts, and she rules the family with an iron fist. She definitely doesn’t allow male witches or “Normals” anywhere near the family stronghold of Ebony Drake.
That all changes when Aunt Opalisa decides it’s time for Mildred to take her place at the the Black Magic Academy, like her mother and most of her aunts did before her. Suddenly, Mildred is plunged into a whole school of witches trying to be meaner, uglier, and more evil than anyone who’s come before them. Even worse, Death-Enemy Welsa’s daughter is in her dorm, and immediately declares Mildred as her own Death-Enemy. Mildred just wants to get through her classes without being cursed or running afoul of the teachers.
That turns out to be pretty difficult– Mildred is the only person in the whole place that thinks “being nice” isn’t a character flaw. Plus, due to some jibing from her new Death-Enemy, Mildred finds out her father was a Normal. Could her father be the reason why she just can’t seem get the hang of this whole wicked witch thing?
One thing’s for sure; she’s going have to be awfully careful if she wants to get through Black Magic Academy without getting expelled or worse.
I had a lot of fun reading this one, and while can’t say it truly shocked me at any point, the constant “fractured faerie tale” references and the paradigm reversal away from traditional faerie tales kept me entertained all the way until the end.