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March 10, 2022

Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis ~ a Review

by MK French

Orphan Kelcie Murphy is used to being excluded or overlooked, and fending for herself even when she's supposed to be taken care of by the foster care system. It turns out that she's a Saiga, descended from those able to wield elemental magic. She's dying to attend the Academy of Unbreakable Arts to learn to use this power, as well as find out who her parents really are.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

cover of Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis
March 2022; Starscape; 978-1250208262
ebook, print (336 pages); fantasy

This book borrows heavily on Celtic mythology, with its creatures and different forms of magical powers. The Otherworld contains the magic that our world doesn't and had been embroiled in a magical war not too long before the book opens. It's divided into Summer and Winter Courts, where the fairies aren't supposed to cross from one side to the other. A powerful object would allow Winter to overpower Summer, and Kelcie's tied to it. Plenty of students don't trust her because of the Saiga heritage, even though she didn't know what it meant. Distrusted and doubted, Kelcie has poor control of her magic and is targeted from the very start.

I really felt for Kelcie, as she endured a lot as a foster kid and doesn't expect much from other children. Even when she crosses into the Otherworld, she doesn't receive much better at first. She does make a handful of good friends, and this is what allows her to grow and thrive. Kelcie learns who she is: not just who she's descended from, but what kind of person she truly is in times of trouble. It's a new kind of magical school, with teachers that care about students and don't necessarily put them all through unnecessary harm in the name of teaching lessons. That being said, magic can be very dangerous, especially if there's no control. I liked seeing positive adult role models for Kelcie, and that she learned to trust these adults as well as friends. 

As a middle-grade heroine, she's responsible for saving the Academy and potentially the world she had just learned about. This feels believable and will be great for kids to read about.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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