“At their feet is another magnificent dragon, but this one is wingless. The length of its body and tail is so long, it wraps itself around the group five times over. Both dragons are also snarling and look as if they have been, and still are fighting. This is clearly a statue of them in the middle of a battle, but what battle was that? Where and when was it? Was it even based on a real one?”
Author: Madeline McQueen Published: 2018 Pages: 432
Anuanna is a fantasy book which centres around Anne – a young woman who suddenly finds herself thrusted into a world of magic, unlike anything she has seen before. When, one day, Anne realises that she can hear her dog talking, the canine, Sunny, informs her that she is an Owtta, a dying race of magical people who can communicate with animals. Sunny takes her to Anuanna, an academy for magical people, to learn all about that world, and other people with gifts. She befriends a girl called Charlotte, whose gift is resurrection, and together they navigate the academy while learning the history of magic that has been hidden to Anne up until that point.
I normally love fantasy. Harry Potter is just an incredible series of books, and The Mortal Instruments series is also one very close to my heart, so when the offer to review this popped into my inbox, I was intrigued to enter the world of Anuanna. Pretty much as soon as I started reading, however, I was struck by how thinly veiled the legitimacy of the world was. I couldn’t really visualise how a world like this could be hidden from the rest of society, and what’s more, when Anne discovers that she has magical abilities, she pretty much just ups and leaves with no regard for her boyfriend or parents until much later on in the book. If your girlfriend just disappeared, you’d probably wonder where she was.
On a more positive note, I will say that McQueen’s writing was descriptive, and I liked the way she tried to explain everything the protagonist encountered, in order to allow the reader to fully understand what was going on. I also liked that pretty early on, there was a history lesson on the magical world, and therefore, as a reader, I too could learn about it. As a protagonist, Anne was fairly likeable, which was nice because I don’t tend to enjoy books in which I don’t like the protagonist!
On the other hand, there were many elements about the book which just were not necessary, for example, knowing the dress size, and height of all the characters. I think even the most imaginative person probably doesn’t think of people in feet and inches in their head – just ‘tall’ or ‘short’ normally suffices. There was also a completely inappropriate student/teacher relationship in the novel, which frankly, just appeared from nowhere, and no one in the book seemed to have a problem with it, which was a little odd to say the least.
And now to the real reason I just could not get on board with the book. Anne began her journey to the castle-grounds of her new school by shopping for school essentials, then once arriving, was given a timetable of subjects which included Magical Creatures and Magic Defence. Later on she entered the illusive and secretive headmaster’s office, before looking into a mirror which showed her her true self. And finally she learnt to play Creball – a sport involving different balls which have to go through different goals in order to score points. Any of this sounding familiar yet? Even though the details had changed, I just couldn’t help but imagine Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Dumbledore, The Mirror of Erised, and Quidditch, when the author was describing all of the above. Harry Potter is a phenomenal series, but it’s been done already. Fantasy novels just can’t be comparable to it because then they’re not original, and that’s just that. And, really, that was only the beginning of the comparisons between this book and HP.
Overall, Anuanna is a perfectly nice story about a girl who finds out she has magical abilities and is enrolled at an academy to help her navigate the new world. However, if you’re looking for something original, or thought-provoking, this is not the book for you. Anuanna attempts to be a new and exciting magical world to escape into, but doesn’t even come close to the originality or intricacy of its predecessors in the same genre, and for that, I don’t think I’ll be looking to enter it again.
Thank you to the author, Madeline McQueen, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.