Friday, January 12, 2024

Book Review: Animalia by Shauna C. Murphy

Title: Animalia
Author: Shauna C. Murphy
Genre: Fantasy: Young Adult
Publication Date: November 11, 2023
Publisher: Coco Studios

On an icy peninsula in Norway, there is a school where select students from around the world are taught the secrets of the Victorian-era world.

The school's programs are:

Apothecary – for pharmacists

Warbringer – for warriors

Machinist – for inventors

Artisan – for artists

Animalia – for animalists

Thirteen-year-old Sunday GrĂ¥e wants to follow in her late father's footsteps and become Animalia – the way of working with animals' unique abilities that is taught only at the prestigious and secretive Svalbard School. Sunday's dreams come true when she is admitted, but the school is more dangerous than she thought. The Animalia students are mysteriously going missing... and she could be next.

The Golden Compass meets Enola Holmes in this fantasy and mystery.

Light fantasy elements paint an alternate Victorian era that features students from all around the world working toward altruistic goals (conservation, art, justice, innovation, health, etc) and takes a grounded approach to a universal magic we've all felt in our everyday lives – connection to animals and the natural world.


*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

This was such an interesting take on the whole Fantasy/Magic school trope (even though we are told multiple times that Animalia is not magic). I found the world that Murphy built very interesting and couldn't wait to see how it's explored. Sunday was an interesting character, a child dealing with the death of her father, with a mother who muted her grief through addiction, all the while trying to make sure their candle shop stays afloat. While she is worried and scared to leave home, Sunday gets accepted into Svalbard a prestige school in Norway for their Animalia program, the same program that her father had been in. This is where the story picks up as there is a mystery at this new school that has Sunday suspicious and fighting her animalistic nature. I really hope there is a sequel as this can make a really interesting series. The mystery was predictable as I figured out the antagonist as soon as they were introduced, but that didn't bother me. 

Overall, a curious ending that makes me hope for a sequel. 

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