Katie Fitzgerald's Reviews > The Magnolia League

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch
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Apr 30, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: level-young-adult, source-netgalley, format-ebooks, genre-fantasy

Years ago, the Magnolia League, desperate for the magic potions that bring them beauty, power, and prosperity, entered into an arrangement with the Buzzard family, the hoodoo practitioners who can create and perfect these potions.

Alexandria - Alex - Lee is the granddaughter of Magnolia League founder Dorothy Lee, and at the start of this book, which takes place in the present day, she is plucked from the communal farm where she grew up and thrown into upper class society in Savannah, Georgia. Her grandmother, whom she calls Miss Lee, fully assumes that Alex - who wears dreadlocks, smokes pot, and hates everything the League stands for - will transform herself and become a Magnolia as well. Two other MG's, Hayes and Madison, help Alex make the transition from her former life of secondhand clothes and herb-farming to her new life of glamour, fashion, popularity, and power.

Alex resists for a long time, but when she begins to give in to the League's ways of doing things, she slowly comes to reveal the ugly underside to the Magnolia League's magic. Sure, every Magnolia is rich, beautiful, and feared and revered by all - but these blessings come at a great price, and it's not just the Buzzards who have a sinister hold over the Magnolias.

I don't read much fantasy, and I'm really not into the paranormal stuff, but I love Southern fiction, and this book, magic and all, had me hooked from page one. Alex isn't the most likable heroine, but she is really funny, and more assertive than a lot of YA narrators. She is certainly stronger than Twilight's Bella Swan, for example. I found myself comparing this book to Twilight in certain respects, mainly because the push and pull between the Buzzards and Magnolias reminded me somewhat of the same sort of tension between the Twilight vampires and werewolves, but The Magnolia League is more sophisticated, and in my opinion, more interesting.

I really loved the many references to Southern authors, especially Flannery O'Connor, since I don't think many teens are familiar with her work, even though I think she has definite teen appeal. I also noticed a lot of pop culture references, which give the book a really contemporary feel. I often worry that books with those references become dated more quickly, but this one does give specific references to time - 1989 is the year Alex's mother made her debut - so I think even as time goes on, it will hold up because of that.

This book is truly addictive. It reminded me of all the books about the South that I love - Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, etc. - and really used the Southern atmosphere to enhance the creepy, mysterious tone of the entire story. It also made me think of the House of Night, with its various secrets and initiations. Like Zoey Redbird, Alex must learn the rules of her new surroundings before she can understand the wrongs being committed and the best way to stop them.

It's clear from the end of The Magnolia League that there will be a sequel, if not a series, to follow, and I will definitely be looking forward to that. I recommend this book to older teens, who don't mind frank discussions about drug use, sex, and other mature themes. It's definitely a high school book, and not something I'd be likely to hand to a 12 or 13 year old.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 30, 2011 – Shelved
April 30, 2011 – Shelved as: level-young-adult
April 30, 2011 – Finished Reading
May 7, 2011 – Shelved as: source-netgalley
May 7, 2011 – Shelved as: format-ebooks
August 1, 2011 – Shelved as: genre-fantasy
September 5, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2011

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