Alex – Her mom is killed in a car crash and she is uprooted from her commune in California to go live with her grandmother in Savannah Georgia.
Hayes – on of the “MGs” – Magnolia Girls. She’s beautiful, rich, popular, and in charge at the school. She’s not quite the snot that Madison is but she’s not the nicest person either. She and Madison are supposed to become friends with Alex, since Alex is set to be the future leader of the Magnolia League.
Madison – the other MG. And a bigger snob then Hayes.
Mrs. Lee – Grandma. And she’s creepy. She looks barely 40 but she’s 70. She is the current president and leader of the Magnolia League. She’s the founder too. We learn that she started the league to put a hex on a man she was engaged to. She dolls out the spells and hexes and stuff that the Buzzards give to her.
Sam Buzzard – We don’t see much of him. But, I think there was something between Sam and Louisa Lee (Alex’s mom). Part of the family who provides the spells and hexes.
Thaddeus – Hayes’ brother. Captain of the lacrosse team. He ends up dating Alex, he had dated Madison the prior year. Turns out he knows all about the Magnolia League.
Sina – of the Buzzard family. She’s very powerful and scary. And she doesn’t like the Magnolia League or the MGs. She strikes a deal with Alex at the end.
Dex (a friend Alex makes at the new school, and really the only normal person she’s friend’s with), Reggie (ex-boyfriend from RC), Jon (head of the RC), and all the mom’s who are in the Magnolia League.
Main Premise: The Magnolia League runs Savannah. And it’s a group of women who are totally into hoodoo. Run by Mrs. Lee, Alex’s grandmother, all the members of the league are wealthy, beautiful and snobby. Alex is taken from the RC – the commune she grew up on – and relocated to living with her grandmother after her mother is killed in a car crash. Alex has to call her creepy and domineering grandmother Mrs. Lee. Alex isn’t like the other kids because she’s into herbs, smoking pot, and not into the money and all the snobishness that’s going on by all the other folks in Savannah. Alex soon learns that there’s magic going on. She doesn’t really want to take over the Magnolia League as she is apparently destined to (even though I think that destiny is set by her Grandmother) but in the end, she has to face that role for various reasons.
Locations: Mendocino CA, Savannah GA
Other Important Things to Remember for Later: Alex’s mom’s spirit is trapped in her old room in Mrs. Lee’s mansion. Sina and Alex make a blood oath to end the agreement that Mrs. Lee made years ago. To fulfill it, Alex needs to take over the League. Thad thinks Alex put a spell on him (and this is encouraged by him mom, but I don’t know why). Alex has a buzzard stone which was her mom’s and it protects the wearer from any hard. She gives it to Hayes at the end and tells her to get out of Savannah (which is what Thad wanted for her). One of the conditions of being in the League is that you can’t ever leave Savannah (and this little limitation was placed on the League by Mrs. Lee herself). Sam and Alex’s mom were close. Dex and Madison are sort of together (she takes him to their Christmas ball).
Review: I was often reminded of the Caster Chronicles while reading this. We know that there are bigger and more sinister things going on then we have all the information about. There were some wonderful lines early on that gave me great hopes for the book. As the chapters went by, though, I was a little disappointed. I liked the book well enough. I thought it was a good solid start to a series. And we have some of the rules as to how the magic works in the world of the Magnolia League. But there were inconsistencies and character development flaws that I wish hadn’t been. For example, we see Alex go from RC girl, into t-shirt and jeans, resisting consumerism and her Grandmother to MG. Without much of a struggle. She superficially notes that the MGs are snobby skinny girls who aren’t very nice to always hanging out with them and not really caring. She seems at first to have the spirit of someone who wouldn’t cave to her grandmother, yet she does right away, dressing and hanging out with those Mrs. Lee wants. And then, to have her at the end do a 180 and decide to destroy the League – well, I didn’t get the foundation I need as a reader to believe that course of Alex’s. Any of it. Not the acceptance of the girls in the first place, not the relationship with Thad, and not the desire to end the league. None of it. In fact, one of the chapters gives us “the next month went by so fast…” (or something like it) and that month could have added so much to the book. We see Thad and Alex not getting along and then suddenly they are a couple.
Alex’s initiation – with the crush a crush ceremony was a little out of the blue too. I think this book lacked depth in plot and characters. From a plot perspective, the need to have to put an end to the agreement with the Buzzards came out of the blue. There wasn’t a whole lot of depth to the story and while there were subtle hints that something was going on with Alex’s mom’s room, that too was really out of nowhere. With the characters, they aren’t very well developed and they felt fairly one-dimensional. With Madison and Haley, maybe not so much since I think they are supposed to be fairly superficial, but it was hard to route for Thad and Alex since we saw so little of them together.
I think we need to see more of the magic – not just the results (forever young and always rich). I think we need to see more of Savannah – the history of that city could have made the city itself a character and yet the author didn’t really draw from that resource. And I think we need more of the characters. They were a good start, the magic and the use of it was a good start, and the ending of the book really came across as a good start. Hopefully we get more then just snippets, like we really have here, of things in the next book.