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The Book of Spells (Private, #0.5)
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The Book of Spells (Private 0.5)

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,266 ratings  ·  194 reviews
The year is 1915 when sixteen-year-old Eliza Williams arrives at the Billings School for Girls in Easton, Connecticut. Her parents expect her to learn the qualities of a graceful, dutiful wife. But Eliza and her housemates have a dangerous secret: They're witches. After finding a dusty, leather bound spell book, the Billings Girls form a secret coven. Bonded in sisterhood, ...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sarah
I've never read any of the Private books, nor do I wish to -- but I was impulse-shopping in the grocery store & this pretty winter-centric cover caught my eye. It reads quickly & the characters are equally flat, but there was enough substance to hold my interest.

Despite the characters' ages (16-17) it reads in a simpler, younger style, neither as creepy-magical as Gemma Doyle or sexy-dramatic as The Luxe. Though most YA is roughly PG-13, this one is barely PG. Though the subject matter
...more
Cora Tea Party Princess
5 Words: Magic, selfish, silly-little-girls, tragedy, love.

When I first started this, I wasn't so sure about it. But by the end, I knew I'd loved it.

I haven't read any of the Private series itself, but I want to, especially if the writing's as immersing as this. Pity that not a single library in three whole counties near me have the first books. They have books 9-14 though :/ Is it worth reading, fellow readers?

Although the characters appeared to be 15/16 the writing was much younger. But it was
...more
Janelle Dazzlepants
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolyn (Book Chick City)
Reviewed by Andrea for Book Chick City.

I was unsure about this book because I’ve looked at the other Private novels and then put them back on the shelves because they seemed too girlie, and one thing I detest is a book set around catty teenage girls. I was pleasantly surprised with “The Book of Spells”. Yes, it’s about a group of teenage girls all attending school, they talk about fashion, boys and sneaking out, but it didn’t have that cloying, cringe worthy feel to it that I’ve come to expect f
...more
Tami
Jan 09, 2014 Tami rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes to read
Shelves: i-own




I went into this book dreading to read it. It was the last book I decided to read because I was avoiding to read. By now you're probably wondering why I even have the book in the first place. Well, I had a 17 hour drive from one city to another and the price was only $3.97 at Books-a-Million. It was an emergency book in case I finished The Hangman's Daughter. The reason why I dreaded this book was because it was a Private prequel. I'll admit, I judge a book by its cover. But as a classmate of
...more
Sydney →☺
Honestly, when I decided to read this book I had very low expectations. I didn't even expect myself to finish it! See, I'm not a huge fan of books that are set in the past. They've just never really drawn me in, I guess. However, the intriguing cover and great synopsis filled with tantalizing witchcraft drew me in. OH THANK WHOEVER THAT IT DID!

I'm officially addicted to this book. Everything about it is just perfect to me! Each and every character had a distinct personality -- just because they
...more
Lucy Watkiss
As an avid reader of the entire Private series I eagerly anticipated reading the ‘Book of Spells’ however I am sorry to say that I was quite disappointed! Firstly why Kate Brian felt it necessary to completely ruin the perfectly credible murder/thriller plot which had me on the edge of my seat for the first eight books is beyond believe and furthermore could there have been a plot twist as radical and unconvincing as introducing magic? Also, one of the most appealing characteristics of main char ...more
Stephanie
To be truthful, I was disappointed by this book. I think I knew in the back in the mind I would be, but I decided to buy it anyways since I had read all of the other Private novels, and Kate Brian is one of my favourite authors. But as I said, I was disappointed. The book was extremely cheesy. The spells were simple rhymes, which girls said holding hands in a circle. Nothing like “Harry Potter” where the spells are in different languages with actual meaning. I suppose it had a good plot line, th ...more
Morgan
Holy Cow...I didn't think I'd ever get through this book. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Kate Brian and the Private Series but this book was terrible. Maybe it's because I don't like the whole super natural thing, I don't know. I got bored in the middle and though I can see why the ''Billings House'' is like it is after this book, I just wish there had been a different twist, not the supernatural. Now I am wondering what Vanished will be like, is it going to turn supernatural too???
Lia Marcoux
Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She knows love's not a contest, and she's won first prize! Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She prefers books to boys, and when a boy validates this, she knows she's made the right choice! Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She can fall in love with a stranger at thirty paces without exchanging a word! Eliza's not like ordinary girls. She'd never dilly-dally with another girl's fiancé, unless that girl was rude to her, and then she definitely would, immediately! El ...more
Michaela Osiecki
As a practicing witch myself, I wanted to like this. I wasn't expecting anything on par with the actual occult practices of the Victorian/Edwardian era, but when the girls uncover the chest of "spell books" that highly resemble modern Wiccan practices, I was done.

I mean, a quick Google search can confirm that Wicca didn't even coalesce into an actual structured practice until the mid to late 1950's. And the Victorians thought making their own Ouija boards and talking to spirits was more fun anyw
...more
Paula  Phillips


This book was amazing and I think that any true fan of Kate Brian's series Private will appreciate it just as much as I did :). When I first read that there was to be a prequel to the Private series , I was intrigued as I have grwon up reading the whole series and enjoying it. I would love to see this set of books made into a tv series as it's similar to Gossip Girl but in my personal opinion , I couldn't get that into the Gossip Girl books, though thats not to say I havent read them, just that
...more
Rebecca
What an utterly frustrating book! Brian can write well and has a lot of good ideas, but she rarely completes any of the things she introduces. I was ready to pitch this through the window when I was done.

In this story we follow Eliza off to finishing school. It's 1910, and Eliza's from a wealthy family. Her older sister, May, came back from this school vastly altered but we never get to see why. May's been home all summer and hasn't bothered to tell her sister just why she's turned into a doorma
...more
Lennet penate
loved it ok so there's this girl her name is Eliza and she is sent to a private school here she meets new friends like Alice and gets a new BFF her name is catherine. then there's this really mean girl who basically owns the school cause her family founded it her names Theresa and shes a real b****! ugh! so on the first day Eliza wants to prove to everyone that she's not her sister May who also came to this school and was basically perfect little princess sitting on a thrown so she sneeks out wi ...more
Mahima
The Book of Spells
Kate Brian

1)I decided to read this book cause i really really really really enjoy reading fantasy books because their awesome!!!! Its like being totally absorbed in another world where i don't even have to think about anything including READING LOGS!The vivid details of the setting, charters,the atmosphere and the fashion of the 1915s made the book feel so surreal. It made me want to travel back in time and live the characters lives, it was like going on a secret adventure! T
...more
Kale
Set in the early 20th century Book of Spells introduces Eliza Williams a modern thinking teen ahead of her time. She has more of a romantic view on education and what unladylike books she can read then the silly notion of finding a husband. As she enters the Billings School Eliza is excited for the freedom to learn whatever she wants without thought to decorum only to learn Billings is more of a finishing school for proper ladies than the cultivating institute of academic knowledge she craves. S ...more
Katie
The Book of Spells (A Private Novel)
By: Kate Brian

Personally, I loved this book. I think it that it was very well written. I have not read any of the other Private novels so I can’t compare this to any of Brian’s other works. As a stand alone novel, The Book of Spells, is exceptional. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA novels like the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, or Clockwork Angel. In The Book of Spells, Kate Brian manages to bring protagonist Eliza Williams to life. Eliza is a very real cha
...more
Elisa
Dec 24, 2010 Elisa added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joely
This book disappointed me a bit. Normally I love Kate Brians books, im a big fan of privilege and private series both, but this one just seemed stale i guess. I feel like the ending felt rushed to me, that may of been because of my fast reading pace, but I dont know. I felt like she just wanted to finish the book and be done with it. For example, the ending with Harrison, i thought that maybe we would get some more insight into what happened with him, but it just ended where it ended. I did not ...more
Jill
I thought this book was really fun and bright. It did get a little dark and scary at the end, but it was really great the way the author ended it. The main character, Eliza, was a really smart character! I loved her! Even Theresa was growing on me throughout the book, even though she did whine a lot about Harrison. The sad part of the book was when Catherine died, but it was good when they finally solved the problem with the books and locket because of what Catherine tried to do with Eliza. But ...more
April
This Y&A novel is very interesting. It follows three girls, Eliza, Theresa, and Catherine who find a few trinkets, among other things, that lead them on what appears to be a fascinating journey. At the Billings school for girls, they create a coven and invite others to join. At first things are exciting and fun, then slowly darkness inches in. Then the worst thing happens. The girls wonder if they can fix it... Things get even creepier. This tale cleverly reveals life lessons, with one of th ...more
Anna Maria
This book is a thrilling tale , often scary and adventurous making the reader turn each page and hardly ever disappointed. The novel grips you and you are plunged into the world of Eliza Williams.

Set in the early twentieth century we follow Eliza Williams, a bright teenage girl who loves reading and sports. Her parents would like her to learn the skills of running a household. Despite Eliza's protests she is sent to a boarding school in the country, the one which her sister May attended. Mays re
...more
Angie
This book reminds me of why I liked the private series to begin with. I love the fact that it takes place almost 100 years ago. A great YA boarding school book with a supernatural twist. It was a quick read. The ending was not a total cliffhanger, but did leave me wondering if she is going to write a sequel to this prequel!!
Vibha
Picking up this book in the library, i thought it would be a nice old fairytale twist or something. I have to say, this book really reminded me of "The School of Good and Evil" series by Soman Chainani. So, if you enjoyed his book series, you'll like this one. I recently finished BBC's Merlin for the second time, awesome show by the way. That was all magic, renaissance, and mythical creatures, and when i chose to read this book after i finished that, i was all like "yay, another thing with black ...more
Michelle Arrow
I LOVED this book! Once I saw the cover, I knew I wanted it! I loved it so much that I finished it in one sitting when I was on vacation! Right that moment, I knew I wanted to read the Private series! AMAZING!
anne
It was fine. I was dreading for some witch story and the book gave me just that. When I read at the back of the book, I thought they're witches from their root but they weren't. They just form a coven based on a magic book they found and turn themselves into a witch.

Many questions left unanswered though. Like what's with May's warning in early of the book? Does it have anything to do with the magic book? Or was it just her scandalous engagement? And something about Eliza noticing the weirdness o
...more
Jessica
I’ll start my review by saying this: when I first began to really, really explore reading there were two sorts of things I’d look for in my reading material. Shallow, easy-breezy plots that you could gossip with friends about (see: The Clique, Gossip Girl, The A-List, The Insiders, The Au Pairs, Private, Pretty Little Liars… Get the point?) or, well, witches. And while this novel is enjoyable, I think I’d have much preferred it when I was in my early teens.

Private has always been one of my favor
...more
Sarah-J.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn CA
Okay, this personal review is going to be split up into two different parts, the non-spoiler part will be first and then I will have a spoiler alert and the rest of the review will be spoiler. This is a prequel to a series that has been out for years. The prequel was just published this past December. If you have not read the Private series DO NOT START WITH THE PREQUELS. They will give away much of the plot of the books and take out the mystery. However, if you haven’t read it, I highly recomme ...more
Amanda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 14, 2015 06:44AM  
Is anyone struggling with the witchcraft aspect? 10 28 Nov 06, 2014 05:59PM  
A book recommendation if you like this series... 1 5 Oct 31, 2012 05:28PM  
What is this about? 7 62 May 08, 2011 05:49PM  
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94091
Kate Brian is the author of the SHADOWLANDS TRILOGY (SHADOWLANDS, HEREAFTER & ENDLESS), as well as the New York Times bestselling PRIVATE and PRIVILEGE series, and the wildly popular MEGAN MEADE'S GUIDE TO THE MCGOWAN BOYS. She also writes teen fiction under the name Kieran Scott.
More about Kate Brian...

Other Books in the Series

Private (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Private (Private, #1)
  • Invitation Only (Private, #2)
  • Untouchable (Private, #3)
  • Confessions (Private, #4)
  • Inner Circle (Private, #5)
  • Legacy (Private, #6)
  • Ambition (Private, #7)
  • Revelation (Private, #8)
  • Paradise Lost (Private, #9)
  • Suspicion (Private, #10)
Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys Private (Private, #1) Invitation Only (Private, #2) Confessions (Private, #4) Untouchable (Private, #3)

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