The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch: Review

Magnolia League

Synopsis from Goodreads: When her free-spirited mother dies in a tragic accident, sixteen-year-old Alexandria Lee is forced to leave her West Coast home and move in with a wealthy grandmother she’s never known in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful if unwilling member of the Magnolia League-Savannah’s long-standing debutante society. But white gloves and silk gowns are a far cry from the vintage t-shirts and torn jeans shorts she’s used to.
Alex is the first in decades to question the Magnolia League’s intentions, yet even she becomes entangled in their seductive world. The members enjoy youth, beauty and power…but at what cost? As Alex discovers a pact between the Magnolias and the Buzzards, a legendary hoodoo family, she discovers secrets-some deadly-hidden beneath the glossy Southern veneer.
New York Times bestselling author Katie Crouch’s poignant and humorous voice shines in this enchanting and mysterious story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.

Source: Author for a fair and honest review

My Rating: 2½/5 stars

My Review: I always thought I would very much enjoy living in the Deep South but Katie Crouch’s The Magnolia League pretty much changed my mind.  This young adult novel opens on a communal farm in California where we find sixteen-year-old Alexandria Lee happily living the hippie life.  As far as Alexandria is concerned life is perfect and she has everything she needs including an adoring mother, a working knowledge of herbs and organic vegetables, and an awesome collection of vintage t-shirts.  Fate of course has other ideas and turns Alexandria’s world upside down beginning with the untimely death of her mother.

In the weeks and months that follow Alexandria tries desperately to cope with the loss of her mother but this is made more difficult when she is uprooted from the only family she knows and moved to Savannah, Georgia to the home (ahem, mansion) of her maternal grandmother, Miss Lee.  Needless to say the dreadlock-wearing Alexandria has more than a few problems fitting in among the Savannah society circle, known as the Magnolia League that revolves around her grandmother.  It takes about a nanosecond for Miss Lee to inform her wayward granddaughter that she will become a member of the Magnolia League and by December she will be ready to come out to society at the debutante ball.  Aiding Alexandria in her transition from hippie chick to trend setter are fellow junior Magnolia Leaguer’s Hayes and Madison.

Hayes and Madison are two of the highlights of this novel and Crouch spends an incredible amount of time developing their characters.  On Miss Lee’s order’s, Hayes and Madison are tasked with transforming Alexandria into an acceptable Savannah socialite.  Hayes is a perfect example of the ideal Magnolia League member: she is beautiful to the point of perfection, skinny, smart, and wealthy – in short, the envy of nearly every other girl in Savannah.  Madison on the other hand is beautiful to the point of perfection, skinny, smart, and wealthy but she also has a sharp wit that is frequently on display.  Unlike Hayes who is delighted to be a Magnolia League girl, Madison has resigned herself to the hand fate has dealt her.  Hayes and Madison have their work cut out for them as Alexandria is, at first, completely opposed to the idea of transformation.  Alexandria soon realizes that her opposition is completely pointless for Miss Lee, Hayes, and Madison are women who will not be denied.

Alexandria also soon discovers that the Magnolia League has a very dirty little secret that they are willing to go to any lengths to protect.  All the beauty, all the wealth, and all the perfection that each and every member of the Magnolia League has is bought and paid for with blood and magic.  Until the arrival of Alexandria this arrangement had worked almost flawlessly for generations and for a time, Alexandria falls in line and allows herself to be sucked into the superficial world of the Magnolia’s.   That is until the night of the debutante ball when Alexandria finds out the ugly truth about her mother’s death and her family’s even uglier history.  It is at this point that Alexandria understands how truly twisted the Magnolia League is and that she must find a way to destroy the very thing that has defined her family and Savannah society for generations.  The novel ends on a rather unpleasant note: Alexandria finds that her mother’s ghost has been trapped within the family mansion, her super-hot boyfriend believes she is a liar and a cheat, and her only ally in what she now calls the White Glove War is one of the magic workers sworn to aid the Magnolia League.

The Bottom Line:  The writing style is fine, the plot is easy to follow with very few surprises, and the characters are all at least moderately interesting.  But that’s just it, everything about this novel is only OK.  I didn’t find anything truly new or terribly exciting about this novel but I didn’t dislike it either.  I would call The Magnolia League a solid read but not something you need to jump on right away.

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