Summary: 16 year old Elizabeth (Eliza) Williams can't wait to start school at the Billing's school for girls. She looks forward to leaving her home and escaping her overly-proper mother. Mrs Williams expects her to be a proper young lady who exhibits perfect etiquette. She knows sending her to Billings will teach her how to be the lady she believes her daughter should be. Her older daughter May came back with more than just etiquette and proper behavior, but an engagement as well. Elizabeth has a different idea about her time spent at Billings. She will spend her time in the library reading the books she loves, but her mother forbids her to read (a frivolous and silly thing for a woman to do). Eliza has no idea that her love of books and curiosity will change the course of her life forever. Eliza and her friends fins a trunk of books that contain spells and incantations, intrigued by the possibilities this can lead to, they start a coven casting basic spells and holding secret meetings. Looking only at the fun they are having the don't realize the tragedies they are about to face, and ignore the warnings to turn back.
Review: As a fan of the private series I was happy to read this prequel and see the Billings girls of the past. I originally assumes the girls in the book would be the ones who started the Billings house, and show the evolution of the infamous Billings name. It turned out that was not what it was about, but none the less I enjoyed the book and the characters presented. The novel was about 11 girls who become a coven of witches and perform basic spells. The story has a sort of love triangle in which Eliza finds herself falling in love with the Fiance (Harrison) of oner of her coven members, the feelings are mutual which stirs up some trouble among the two. I found myself anticipating the arrival of Harrison and the secret rendezvous that he and Eliza have. The book is a quick and easy read, not requiring much concentration or serious thought, which is good for those just trying to enjoy a book. In true Private fashion there is a slight love story that comes with many complications, but I was disappointed to discover that the love aspect of the book was not played out as much as I had hoped. I was hoping for more secret rendezvous and stolen kisses. One must take into consideration however; the time period in witch (pun intended) the book is set (1915). The girls weren't as open, and wild as they are in Billings today. We wouldn't expect Noelle Lange or Ariana Osgood to fit in there. Any fan of Kate Brian will definitely enjoy the book and find it an interesting and fun read. I would recommend fan of Sweep by Cate Tiernan to check it out as well considering the witch craft and covens aspect. Definitely recommended to Private fans. See how the Billings girls have changed from high collared ankle length dresses to murder, scandals, and designer barely there dresses.
A question: When I was reading the book, they kept saying how this was Eliza's first year, but then she ended up sharing a room with Katherine who was a third year, and she was in the third year building. Did I misread or was this just an error in the book?
Here is a link to Kate Brian's website, a direct link to the book of spells section: