Book Review | The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow

I was so happy to be granted my wish for this book, it is a perfect read for this time of year.

Illumen Hall is an elite boarding school. Tragedy strikes when the body of a student is discovered at their exclusive summer party – on her back is an elaborate tattoo of a magpie.

When new girl Audrey arrives the following term, running from her own secrets back home in America, she is thrown into solving the case. Despite her best efforts to avoid any drama, her new roommate Ivy was close to the murdered girl, and the two of them can’t help but get pulled in.

The two can’t stand each other, but as they are drawn deeper into the mystery of this strange and terrible murder, they will discover that something dangerous is at the heart of their superficially perfect school.

Welcome to The Magpie Society.

One for Sorrow will be told via the alternating first person perspectives of the lead characters Audrey – written by Amy – and Ivy – written by Zoe – with the narrative being jointly plotted by both authors.

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I was pretty intrigued by this book as soon as it popped up on my radar, there is something about the boarding school setting that drew me in, especially because there is a big mystery and a lot of secrets, which seems more intense when all the characters are ‘locked in’ together. Of course, this was made even better by the fact that it is a very old building with a lot of history and set in a quite bleak and remote, yet very atmospheric, part of England.

The characters all worked well together, Audrey is the American transplant who is running away from her problems and starting afresh at Illumen Hall and is sharing a room with Ivy, a prefect and a very determined and hardworking student who was very affected by the death of Lola. I liked that they clashed in the beginning, that it took quite some time for them to bond and that when they do it is over something that would cause problems between most people.

It was also a clever pairing as we get to see the school from the two perspectives, getting introduced to the school and its eccentricities through Audrey and then getting the deeper knowledge through Ivy, this really helps when they both end up investigating what happened to Lola. Another character that stood out was Clover, kind of rebellious but for the greater good, stands up for what she believes in and isn’t afraid to make her voice heard even if it will possibly get her into trouble. Ivy is Clover’s mentor and again I liked that they were both so very different in character but got on so well and that their differences cause some tension between them as the investigation goes further.

The storyline had all the right ingredients to make a good mystery, and even though it is a little slower paced at the start as we learn about the school and its rituals and get to know the characters, the pace definitely picks up when Ivy and Audrey decide to investigate. There were a few things that had me a little disappointed one was how unfulfilling the confrontation with a potential suspect was and how easily this person got let off the hook, I feel there was a lot of set up there for it to fall a bit flat on delivery. The other was how many unanswered questions were left at the end of this book, I know it is the first book in a series, however, I feel that maybe some resolutions would have left me feeling more satisfied at the end. I always worry that one of the threads will be dropped and I won’t find out the answer that I am looking for.

Despite that, I am, of course, desperate to find out what happens next and what kind of trouble is brewing at Illumen Hall.

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