Review: Fantastic Schools, Vol. 2, edited by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Spells, Homework, and Adventure await!
Tired of Hogwarts? If so, then this collection has the school for you. Magical schools of all shapes and sizes set in worlds known and unknown await discovery in Fantastic Schools, Vol. 2, and although the students may wield wands, no two magic systems here are alike. Step into a world of magic and mundanity – enter the world of Fantastic Schools.
J.F. Posthumous starts the collection off with a bang as her hero heads to a school out in the middle of nowhere. He understands it will not have wi-fi and that it is old-fashioned, but when he arrives, he finds there has been a snafu in the hiring department. This is a magical school…
…and he has no magic. He is a normal human teaching a “normal” subject. How is he going to survive here? The school cannot afford to let him go, and he needs the job.
The better question might be how his students will survive, however. Some are from the mundane world, but for those raised in magical families, their contact with the hard sciences and history of the outside world is minimal. Perhaps there is room for a magicless teacher at a magical school after all!
The tale by James Pyles takes place in a magical pre-school. What happens when the protagonist, a powerful magician, finds her granddaughter being held by a villainous old enemy disguised as a teacher? Someone is going to pay, and it will not be the little girl!
Patrick Lauser’s story appears to follow a changeling, but who has been switched with whom soon becomes hard to discern. For the boy is not what he seems, and neither is the world around him. As the twists and turns continue, one is left wondering just what is going on – making the finale a surprise indeed.
In Audrey Andrews’ story, the heroine is attending magical college when a beast moves into the grounds. The mystery deepens as the intriguing young groundskeeper offers his help, but is he an ally? Or is he the monster?
L. Jagi Lamplighter adds more to her magical school universe in her tale of Rachel Griffin trying to help the magical staff at the school, while David Breitenbeck’s story could be considered the equivalent of the X-Mansion – save that the students are all cursed. Magic has its price, and these kids have all paid it. And their teachers are real monsters!
No matter what school one wishes to see, this volume has something that will appeal to everyone. Enter the grounds, meet the teachers, and find out which school is most appealing by checking the list of protagonists. After all, one of the best ways to judge a school is by the behavior of its students – and even by magical standards, none of these young mages are average!
Every character is well-drawn and believable, though some are naturally more appealing than others. Whether one is dealing with the protagonists, the side characters, or the villains, they all act in credible ways. One of the standouts has to be the normal human teacher dealing with the surprise of being hired by a magical school. It is highly unorthodox not only for him and the school, but for the genre – and that makes his tale one of the best ones to read.
The worlds are all rather limited, as they focus mainly on the school campuses, which are naturally secluded both for the students’ safety and to help them focus. Nevertheless, several authors manage to give readers a peek at the wider worlds outside the schools, allowing one to guess what the rest of the magical universe may look like. Mr. Lauser, Mr. Breitenbeck, Ms. Lamplighter, and Ms. Andrews in particular allow readers to look beyond the grounds to glimpse the worlds in which their tales are set.
There are no politics in this volume.
There are some scenarios where teenage sexual meetups are mentioned or considered, and one story mentions magical drug use. Beyond that, though, there is nothing objectionable in this book and none of these items are deal-breakers for mature readers
Who is it for?
Those who love magical schools and wish to attend them, as well as those who think Harry Potter’s Hogwarts is imitated too closely by other writers or was not as thoroughly considered as it could have been. Anyone who has “outgrown” the genre of magical schools may want to see if this volume rekindles their interest in it, as the tales are all distinct and do not fit the conventions seen in most versions. Readers seeking viable escapes from the madness in real schools will doubtless find this thrilling, as the kids get to use magic and fight or flee from villains great and small. The book would make a great gift for any mature young reader and more than a few adult ones as well.
Why read it?
It is a collection of fun romps in schools outside the norm. Why not read it?
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