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The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

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A fantasy about a kingdom beset by monsters, a mysterious school, and a girl caught in between them. If no one notices Marya Lupu, it is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that's because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer. The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn't matter. Every young b A fantasy about a kingdom beset by monsters, a mysterious school, and a girl caught in between them. If no one notices Marya Lupu, it is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that's because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer. The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn't matter. Every young boy born in in the kingdom holds the potential for the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread. For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy--a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya. Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she's never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country's powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself--things that threaten the precarious balance upon which Illyria is built.


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A fantasy about a kingdom beset by monsters, a mysterious school, and a girl caught in between them. If no one notices Marya Lupu, it is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that's because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer. The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn't matter. Every young b A fantasy about a kingdom beset by monsters, a mysterious school, and a girl caught in between them. If no one notices Marya Lupu, it is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that's because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer. The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn't matter. Every young boy born in in the kingdom holds the potential for the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread. For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy--a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya. Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she's never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country's powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself--things that threaten the precarious balance upon which Illyria is built.

30 review for The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    A powerful book about girls, and women, who have been told for too long that they are powerless, that they need to calm down, to be proper, to be quiet. This is a book about finding strength, about finding family, and about friendship. About recognizing the power within yourself, and choosing to be strong.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie - One Book More

    Review to comeThe Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is a unique middle-grade novel with dynamically developed characters and strong messages. Marya’s brother wants to be a sorcerer, but when Marya messes up his evaluation, she is sent to a school for troubled girls called Dragomir Academy. As Marya and the other girls learn about being proper, conforming young women, they also find out more about the patriarchal society in which they live, as well as the Dread, which attacks whole villages. Mary Review to comeThe Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is a unique middle-grade novel with dynamically developed characters and strong messages. Marya’s brother wants to be a sorcerer, but when Marya messes up his evaluation, she is sent to a school for troubled girls called Dragomir Academy. As Marya and the other girls learn about being proper, conforming young women, they also find out more about the patriarchal society in which they live, as well as the Dread, which attacks whole villages. Marya has always felt like she was living in her brother’s shadow. She longs to be accepted and treated as an equal to her brother but is often met with disapproval and disdain. However, Marya never stops questioning the inequities she faces. I love this! She is a fantastic protagonist, and I love her curiosity, resilience, and strength. There are some really interesting messages about equality, the patriarchy, and breaking the constraints that oppress you. In this world, boys are treated differently from girls, and girls are judged based on how beneficial they will be to the country’s sorcerers. The girls at the academy are literally being educated and trained to benefit their countrymen. Women are considered less than if they are considered at all. However, Marya rejects these notions, and the more she learns about the magic, the men who run the country, and the Dread, the more Marya (and her friends) fights for the truth. The story also highlights the importance of reading and education and the power of knowledge. Filled with wonderful moments of girl power, the story encourages trusting your instincts, standing up for yourself, and questioning authority when things don’t seem right. It also examines the toxicity of blindly following the societal norms when they conflicts with your morals and sense of self. I like how these poignant and important messages are woven throughout the story and found them empowering without overshadowing the plot. A well-layered story with great characters and strong feminist messages, this is an immersive and unique read that will appeal to readers of middle-grade fantasy. There are parts that were slow, and it took me a bit to get into the story, but overall it is an entertaining read. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Walden Pond Press, and Anne Ursu for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erin Kelly

    I mean. It’s Anne Ursu. All her books are good. Including this one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    lexie

    This book was so so so amazing!! The beginning started off a little bit rocky / confusing, but I loved the storyline once Marya came into the school. There were many friendships, plotwists, and betrayals:) I really hope there’s a next book!!!!! I definitely reccomend this book if you enjoy magic friendships sibling rivalry mean parents :/ Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me this book

  5. 4 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    How I read this: Free ebook copy received through Edelweiss If you're thinking of getting this for a sensitive child, maybe read more reviews. This is not for sensitive girls. I was one and I'm telling you. It's hard for me to rate this book - because while the aim is very good (to tell girls that they should trust themselves and educate them about the patriarchy and male privilege, and always think about whom the story serves), it's also laid on SO thick that nothing good ever happens in the stor How I read this: Free ebook copy received through Edelweiss If you're thinking of getting this for a sensitive child, maybe read more reviews. This is not for sensitive girls. I was one and I'm telling you. It's hard for me to rate this book - because while the aim is very good (to tell girls that they should trust themselves and educate them about the patriarchy and male privilege, and always think about whom the story serves), it's also laid on SO thick that nothing good ever happens in the story. And I mean it literally. It just keeps piling on top, and when you think it can't get worse, it just... Gets worse. It's like 1984, but for children and with more magic. And maybe some Handmaid's Tale in the mix. It's not a book about magic. It's basically a cautionary horror story. It's so dark that by the time "the happy ending" arrives (literally at 95%), everything feels forced and unnatural. For a long time I thought this was book 1 in a series because even by 70% things just kept getting worse and I felt like the story was only setting up (but the story does wrap up, so it's not like that). By the time the ending arrived, I thought, alright - so you just spent the entire book telling me that the world is horrible, everyone is conspiring against the female population, and now suddenly poof! Everything works out and everyone believes their end of the story? Right. The book is essentially about how uncomfortable women were accused of hysteria back in the day, and put in asylums, except with magic. That's a very good story to tell. The problem I had was not with the story or end goal - but rather, the way it was told. I do understand criticism of the patriarchy, and I'm all for it, but this book just doesn't give ANY hope. It's all deeper and deeper gloom. The message to me felt like "you're a girl, so all the bad things will happen to you, and it's totally unfair, and it's not your fault, but literally nothing good can happen to you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Oh, and nobody will listen to you and they absolutely WILL tell you it's your fault." Huh. Inspiring. I really hope I misread the message, cause the book deeply affected me. It simply depressed me. If I was a child, I would have felt like everyone's my enemy because I'm a girl. Maybe it's just me. I'm an adult, and after just finishing this book, I still feel like nobody's on my side. I'm pretty sure this wasn't the aim of the book. I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion. Book Blog | Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Heise

    The fantasy world, and girl power story, Anne Ursu has created with Dragomir is one that I want to revisit over and over. Marya & Elana and this story are beautifully, inspiringly, feministically, light-it-all-up and smash the patriarchy amazing!!!!! SO MANY gorgeous lines & turns of phrase, as expected with Ursu's signature writing style, many of which don't pull punches on why & when & how men try to keep girls down. Though it is long (in page count) with larger font and lots of white space, i The fantasy world, and girl power story, Anne Ursu has created with Dragomir is one that I want to revisit over and over. Marya & Elana and this story are beautifully, inspiringly, feministically, light-it-all-up and smash the patriarchy amazing!!!!! SO MANY gorgeous lines & turns of phrase, as expected with Ursu's signature writing style, many of which don't pull punches on why & when & how men try to keep girls down. Though it is long (in page count) with larger font and lots of white space, it can still fit the niche for the younger end of middle grade for those looking for fantasy stories with an empowering message.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    3.5 eight year old me would have ate this up

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    The scene with the goat is hilarious. I thought the plot with the school was slow and the ending exciting. The Dread question isn’t resolved so perhaps a sequel is in order?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Marya Lupu lives with her family in a vaguely Medieval, Eastern European area called Illyria that is beset by The Dread, which can be subdued by sorcerers. Her older brother Luka is to be interviewed for selection for the school where sorcerers are trained, and this could mean financial security and social betterment for the entire family. Marya is a bit hoydenish (given the setting, this seems like a good adjective), and her mother is constantly appalled at her " E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Marya Lupu lives with her family in a vaguely Medieval, Eastern European area called Illyria that is beset by The Dread, which can be subdued by sorcerers. Her older brother Luka is to be interviewed for selection for the school where sorcerers are trained, and this could mean financial security and social betterment for the entire family. Marya is a bit hoydenish (given the setting, this seems like a good adjective), and her mother is constantly appalled at her "unladylike" behavior. Marya and Luka are often at odds, and he puts her beautiful new dress for the occasion in the hen house, where it is ruined. When the official arrives, the family goat comes into the house through a door that Marya left open, and chaos ensues. Not only does her brother NOT get into the school (although he does not seemed surprised by this), but the family gets a letter that Marya is to report to a school for troubled girls, Dragomir Academy. At Rose Hall, Marya and the other girls are forbidden to talk about their pasts, and everything about the school is very suspicious. After having a few epiphanies about the founder of the school and other students, Marya finds herself in the "sanitarium", and is told she has "mountain madness". She claims that she doesn't, but the teachers try to gaslight her into believing that something is wrong with her. Will she be able to determine the link between the girls and the magic of the realm, and how it might affect the approaching Dread? Strengths: Fans of Ursu's Breadcrumbs and The Lost Girl will enjoy this boarding school story set in a more historical time period. Marya is a spunky character who is ill treated by her family, although it is nice to see that her brother regrets how he treated her. I also enjoyed her neighbor, Madame Bandu, who was a master weaver and saw how Marya's family treated her, and offered to have her babysit her two young sons so Marya could get out of the house. Madame Bandu also is looking into having Marya as an apprentice, and when she is sent to Dragomir, writes her letters. The fact that Marya knows secret weavers' symbols helps her find out more about her school. Weaknesses: This is similar to books like Levine's The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Hale's The Princess Academy, and Pierce's Tortall books, but with less action. It does seem like there will be more books in the series, so perhaps those will take a more interesting direction. What I really think: Not sure if the Illyrian setting is a shout out to Lloyd Alexander's Vesper Holly books, the first of which is The Illyrian Adventure (set in 1872). This is getting a lot of love for the girl power themes, but there was surprisingly little that the girls were able to accomplish-- it was a lot of setting the scene with society limiting the girls' chances, and not as much of them being able to show their own power. I may wait until the second book to see how the story progresses, especially since I have a lot of books similar in setting and topic.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary Louise

    if there aren’t more books in this world/series i will throw hands

  11. 4 out of 5

    Krisette Spangler

    Marya can't do anything right. She will never be able to marry well and run a home, because she just can't seem to control her impulses. Finally, a letter arrives from the king saying Marya must be sent to the Dragomir Academy in order to educate and reform her. Marya's parents are relieved, but Marya doesn't understand how she or any of the other girls could be considered troubled. Also, why are there so many secrets at the academy? Something isn't right, and Marya can't help herself, she has t Marya can't do anything right. She will never be able to marry well and run a home, because she just can't seem to control her impulses. Finally, a letter arrives from the king saying Marya must be sent to the Dragomir Academy in order to educate and reform her. Marya's parents are relieved, but Marya doesn't understand how she or any of the other girls could be considered troubled. Also, why are there so many secrets at the academy? Something isn't right, and Marya can't help herself, she has to find out what is really happening.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Haylie

    Marya Lupu has grown up in the shadows of her older brother, Luka. Luka has always been seen as a possible sorcerer, the most highly regarded members of their kingdom as few boys can wield magic that is used to protect the country from the Dread, who were sent by neighboring witches. The families’ hopes all land on Luka, and no one has any for Marya. When the day arrives for Luka to finally be evaluated for magic by a sorcerer, Marya messes the visit up unintentionally . Luka isn't identified as Marya Lupu has grown up in the shadows of her older brother, Luka. Luka has always been seen as a possible sorcerer, the most highly regarded members of their kingdom as few boys can wield magic that is used to protect the country from the Dread, who were sent by neighboring witches. The families’ hopes all land on Luka, and no one has any for Marya. When the day arrives for Luka to finally be evaluated for magic by a sorcerer, Marya messes the visit up unintentionally . Luka isn't identified as a potential sorcerer and Marya is sent off to Dragomir Academy, a school for troubled girls. As Marya and the girls learn to become proper women and fit for jobs working for the Sorcerers of the kingdom, they start to learn things about the men who run the country and the beings, the Dread, who are attacking their villages. Maybe the girls aren't as troubled as they seem. This book looks at the themes of oppression, and education. The girls in the book are treated differently than the boys and are not seen with as having much potential. In this fantasy world, their greatest worth is based on how they can help their country and the sorcerers who protect it. But as the girls learn more and more and educate themselves they start to see things with new eyes. Most men in this book are bad guys, and I wish there were a few more men who were painted in a more positive light before the last chapter. But I do agree with the theme of reading and education being power. This book was a fast paced read, especially at the end.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Soup

    Not at all what I expected, based on the summary provided by the publisher. While magic does play a significant role in the plot, very few fantasy elements actually occur in the narrative itself for the majority of the novel. This, combined with the tendency towards a slow plot pace, an often brooding narrator, and the setting of an isolated castle populated by shadows and psychologically broken girls, made the work feel much more like a YA gothic novel than a YA fantasy work. The writing is sol Not at all what I expected, based on the summary provided by the publisher. While magic does play a significant role in the plot, very few fantasy elements actually occur in the narrative itself for the majority of the novel. This, combined with the tendency towards a slow plot pace, an often brooding narrator, and the setting of an isolated castle populated by shadows and psychologically broken girls, made the work feel much more like a YA gothic novel than a YA fantasy work. The writing is solid and hums along nicely, but I was genuinely expecting something very different (certainly something more rebellious and playful) than what was offered. Possible trigger warnings for emotional abuse via Mayra's frankly horrendous parents, although they exit the novel as active characters about a quarter of the way through.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pine Reads Review

    “They were the troubled girls of Dragomir Academy—breaking, but never broken—and they had stories to tell.” Marya Lupu is used to not being noticed. Instead, most people notice her older brother Luka who seems destined to become a sorcerer. In the kingdom of Illyria, every young boy has the potential to wield magic and help defend the kingdom against a terrible force known as the Dread. Everyone in the Lupus’ small village expects Luka to be tested for magic. But what they don’t expect is Marya t “They were the troubled girls of Dragomir Academy—breaking, but never broken—and they had stories to tell.” Marya Lupu is used to not being noticed. Instead, most people notice her older brother Luka who seems destined to become a sorcerer. In the kingdom of Illyria, every young boy has the potential to wield magic and help defend the kingdom against a terrible force known as the Dread. Everyone in the Lupus’ small village expects Luka to be tested for magic. But what they don’t expect is Marya to make a disastrous mistake during Luka’s testing, nor for her to receive a letter from the king ordering her to attend a place called Dragomir Academy—a school for troubled girls. Marya is whisked away to the other side of the kingdom and told that if she learns how to behave well, she can one day serve her kingdom by working for one of its sorcerers. Except not everything is as it seems at Dragomir Academy, and Marya and the other girls soon begin to discover significant secrets about the school, sorcerers, and even the Dread that could change everything in Illyria—but for better or worse? In her latest novel, Anne Ursu weaves complex thread after thread to create a brilliant tapestry of magic, mystery, and feminist messages. While I enjoyed the magical elements, the characters—especially Marya—and the phenomenal world-building are really what drive this story. Marya is a wonderful heroine: brave, persistent, and relatable in her struggle to fit into a world that doesn’t have a place for her. The other girls are also extraordinarily fun to read about, especially as we discover what makes each of them unique. As Marya searches harder and harder for answers, themes of overcoming obstacles, fighting for what’s right, and never giving up shine through. If you feel like reading about some kick-butt girls who tear down the patriarchy, then definitely pick up this magical middle-grade novel! (Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.) Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pinereadsreview and check out our website at www.pinereadsreview.com for reviews, author interviews, blogs, podcast episodes, and more!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ami (helluo.librorum__)

    I had high expectations from this book based on the cover and premise and it did not fail to deliver! I really enjoyed reading it. The writing style was easy flowing and fun, the characters were great, had realistic dynamics, the world building and the plot were decent too and the added fantasy element made the book almost perfect. Though, it was a bit different than I had originally expected. I thought it would be like the Philosopher's Stone but it was actually kind of like Order of the Phoeni I had high expectations from this book based on the cover and premise and it did not fail to deliver! I really enjoyed reading it. The writing style was easy flowing and fun, the characters were great, had realistic dynamics, the world building and the plot were decent too and the added fantasy element made the book almost perfect. Though, it was a bit different than I had originally expected. I thought it would be like the Philosopher's Stone but it was actually kind of like Order of the Phoenix except men were in the position of authority. We had treacherous teachers, suffocating rules and instances of reproaches that hit too close home. This book, although middle grade fiction, dealt with rather heavy themes of sexism, misogyny and inequality. Honestly, if we removed the magical element, it would actually resemble our current society minus some positive changes in the condition of girls and women. This was actually one of the few books with a fictional world and a feminist theme that I really enjoyed reading because the author unpacked the layers very carefully. True, there was not much 'action' to speak of but the progression of the plot showed various stages of Marya and the girls around her realising their true potential as people. It was really heartwarming to read and the fantasy elements only enhanced the experience. The ending, however, fell flat for me. It didn't feel as climactic as it should have. There were too many loose threads that were left unconnected (hopefully that means a sequel) and it was rushed. A lot of things were left unexplained and the last chapter was crammed with information which would have been better spread out. In spite of the ending though, the book was really enjoyable and fun to read. I really loved the characters and their relationships with each other and thankfully, there was some girl solidarity as I had hoped for. Would definitely suggest it to others. Rating: 4.6 out of 5

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frank Chillura (OhYouRead)

    I was enthralled with The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy from page 1. I have never read an Anne Ursu book before, so I had nothing to go on, but I just knew that from the cover and synopsis… this was a book I would love. I’m glad I listened to my instincts, because this book was incredible!! Marya is the perfect MC for this middle grade Fantasy! She’s inquisitive, intelligent, compassionate, strong and always there for the people she loves. Even though her family had given up on her long befo I was enthralled with The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy from page 1. I have never read an Anne Ursu book before, so I had nothing to go on, but I just knew that from the cover and synopsis… this was a book I would love. I’m glad I listened to my instincts, because this book was incredible!! Marya is the perfect MC for this middle grade Fantasy! She’s inquisitive, intelligent, compassionate, strong and always there for the people she loves. Even though her family had given up on her long before the book begins, she learns to adapt to the world around her. I loved her so much and I’m really excited for people to find inspiration from her story. I really don’t want to give any spoilers, because I loved experiencing the story as I read it… and I want you to as well! Just know that it’s full of magic, mystery, and friendship with the backdrop being a gothic estate: Think dark academia, if it was made for a middle grader! If that’s not enough for you, i don’t know what is! Just go read it!!!!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    It has been years since I felt this way while reading a book. Like I didn’t need to eat, didn’t need to sleep, didn’t need to do anything by read the next page. Anne Ursu is a gift to this planet, and this book is but the latest to display her mastery. I would like everyone to read this book so I can talk with them about it. But really, everyone should read this book for themselves. You owe it to yourself to read this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    I've had the pleasure of reading a few of Ursu's other books, Breadcrumbs, The Lost Girl, and The Real Boy and have always enjoyed her writing and characters. She's written a few empowering girl stories and her latest book, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is such a book. Ursu focuses on the power imbalances or inequities that exist between various genders and explores this in the way that the boys of Illyria, like Luka are meant to grow up and become sorcerers, revered for their strength I've had the pleasure of reading a few of Ursu's other books, Breadcrumbs, The Lost Girl, and The Real Boy and have always enjoyed her writing and characters. She's written a few empowering girl stories and her latest book, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is such a book. Ursu focuses on the power imbalances or inequities that exist between various genders and explores this in the way that the boys of Illyria, like Luka are meant to grow up and become sorcerers, revered for their strength in battling the Dread, while some of the girls, like Marya are troubled and need to be reeducated into proper ladies. At the beginning of the story, Marya doesn't appear too upset about her lot in life, males and females each have their own roles to play. Marya and Luka have a grudge that dominates the first quarter of the story where they're focused on getting even with each other by pulling pranks meant to one up the other. Marya puts honey in Luka's shorts and he ruins her dress. Marya grumbles about how her parents see her as being unladylike, unable to do anything right, or how she essentially has to stay out of her dad's way, while her mom dotes on Luka, and is way stricter on her. Throughout the story, the girls thoughts are manipulated in a way that causes them to doubt their own worth, at first believing that they're troubled and can never do anything right. It's really sad how their parents disown or allow them to be taken to this Academy. Marya is treated so unfairly and you can't help wanting to give her a hug, or send her another letter from her next door neighbor, Madame Bandu, who was such a delight by the way. I loved how she was the one who taught Marya how to read and write, offers to apprentice her as a master weaver, and keeps telling her that she did nothing wrong. She's such a support to Marya and her kindness just radiates in the story. Now Luka was interesting. At first he was sort of stuck up, nose in the air kinda guy. When he didn't get asked to be a sorcerer he doesn't seem too surprised, almost relieved. Partially because his parents have put so much pressure on him to be the great sorcerer and bring pride to their family, and partially because of the amount of time/energy he put into preparing for his new role. Once Marya is sent away, he changes for the better and I couldn't help wondering why? Like why didn't he spill the beans about Marya knowing how to read? I liked how Marya described him as having many sides, "the gifted, dutiful, cruel and one of fear," and maybe he's meant to represent that people are more complex than you think. Lastly, I enjoyed how the story is meant to question "who does the story serve?" and "who benefits?" For the girls of Rose Hall, is was through their being educated at the school and daring to question what they were being told from the men around them. I'd pair this with Miss Ellicott's School for Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood. ** A huge thank you to Sabrian Kenoun from SparkPress for the E-ARC via Netgalley **

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura Stamp

    You love fantasy, but you’re tired of the patriarchy. You know how it works, though, so as you read this book about boys who get chosen to be sorcerers while certain girls have to go to a home because they’re “troubled,” you say hmmmm. And our heroine, Marya, figures it out, too, just as the Dread threatens the troubled girls. This is a YA/kid’s book, and I read it like I used to read, walking around the house, while I was cooking, blow-drying my hair, etc. The magic in the book worked on me. Fo You love fantasy, but you’re tired of the patriarchy. You know how it works, though, so as you read this book about boys who get chosen to be sorcerers while certain girls have to go to a home because they’re “troubled,” you say hmmmm. And our heroine, Marya, figures it out, too, just as the Dread threatens the troubled girls. This is a YA/kid’s book, and I read it like I used to read, walking around the house, while I was cooking, blow-drying my hair, etc. The magic in the book worked on me. Four stars instead of five because the Dread is too much like dementors but the rest is good.

  20. 4 out of 5

    hallie bertling

    so this might be my favorite book of 2021. i had an idea of the twist: but the author did us one even better. fantastic writing, world, concept, atmosphere, characters.... the whole thing was brilliant and i'm obsessed and currently making fan art to celebrate it! so this might be my favorite book of 2021. i had an idea of the twist: but the author did us one even better. fantastic writing, world, concept, atmosphere, characters.... the whole thing was brilliant and i'm obsessed and currently making fan art to celebrate it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Nyhus

    I wanted to love it - but there was so littler action. The message at the end was fabulous but there was no action in the middle to pull the reader along.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    "Who does the story serve?" is the question author Anne Ursu explores in this fast-paced fantasy featuring multiple strong female characters who learn to rely on each other--and themselves. "Who does the story serve?" is the question author Anne Ursu explores in this fast-paced fantasy featuring multiple strong female characters who learn to rely on each other--and themselves.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Great Books

    Reviewer #13

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Girl power!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carie

    Phenomenal!!! I will be saving this book for my daughter to read in a few years. Another Best of 2021 Read….highly recommend.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ella

    Just yes. This was amazing. I've read Breadcrumbs by this author, but I didn't like it. So glad I gave this one a chance! Elana was my favorite, she's amazing, and the ending was satisfying. This was the best book I've read in a long time. Please make this into a movie very, very soon. :) Just yes. This was amazing. I've read Breadcrumbs by this author, but I didn't like it. So glad I gave this one a chance! Elana was my favorite, she's amazing, and the ending was satisfying. This was the best book I've read in a long time. Please make this into a movie very, very soon. :)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    My favorite Ursu so far--and that is saying something. The way the bonds between the girls grow, despite the school's trying to repress and to pit them again one another, was especially moving to me. The Dread was already a terrifying monster, its toxic cloud dividing and spreading across the land, but once I understood it source, eeeek! This is a triumph of storytelling--wonderful and subtle characters, a great setting, a twisty plot and hugely important themes woven as beautifully as the tapes My favorite Ursu so far--and that is saying something. The way the bonds between the girls grow, despite the school's trying to repress and to pit them again one another, was especially moving to me. The Dread was already a terrifying monster, its toxic cloud dividing and spreading across the land, but once I understood it source, eeeek! This is a triumph of storytelling--wonderful and subtle characters, a great setting, a twisty plot and hugely important themes woven as beautifully as the tapestries hanging on the Academy's walls. Only regret: that Anton the goat didn't ever show up again. A sequel is imperative!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    "Who does the story serve?" is a central question from the masterful Anne Ursu in this outstanding new fantasy. Strong appealing characters, excellent world-building and a compelling plot are all standout features in an inventive and thoughtful story. So many of the fantasies coming out today feel cut from an assembly line stamp but I can always count of Anne Ursu to give me something different and wonderful. Simply terrific! "Who does the story serve?" is a central question from the masterful Anne Ursu in this outstanding new fantasy. Strong appealing characters, excellent world-building and a compelling plot are all standout features in an inventive and thoughtful story. So many of the fantasies coming out today feel cut from an assembly line stamp but I can always count of Anne Ursu to give me something different and wonderful. Simply terrific!

  29. 5 out of 5

    J. Z. Kelley

    With its thoughtful messaging about gender equality, the importance of education, and critically evaluating how history gets written and thus remembered, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is exactly the kind of book I want to give to my niece and nephews when they’re old enough. Despite some dark themes, it’s also so sweet, funny, and charming that I’ve recommended it to adult friends as well for comfort reading. Don’t get me wrong: This is definitely a book for middle grade or young YA read With its thoughtful messaging about gender equality, the importance of education, and critically evaluating how history gets written and thus remembered, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is exactly the kind of book I want to give to my niece and nephews when they’re old enough. Despite some dark themes, it’s also so sweet, funny, and charming that I’ve recommended it to adult friends as well for comfort reading. Don’t get me wrong: This is definitely a book for middle grade or young YA readers. However, as someone who regularly rereads A Wrinkle in Time, I recognize that children’s stories are often worthwhile reading for adults as well, both because it’s nice to be able to talk about books with the young people in our lives and because they’re enjoyable. The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy opens with an explanation of the role of women in Illyria. While men might have great destinies as kings or sorcerers, women raise men, make their clothing, clean their homes, provide their food, and record their great deeds in beautiful tapestries. Written by another author, this opening might be heavy handed and cringey. It’s definitely didactic, but Ursu’s clever writing style makes it fun, too. Then, we meet Marya Lupu, who’s cleaning the chicken coop. Everyone is sure her older brother, Luka, is going to be apprenticed to a sorcerer tomorrow: "The Lupus had been waiting for this day since Luka had come into the world thirteen years earlier bright-eyed and somehow already sage-looking, as if he had absorbed enough wisdom in utero to declaim on some of the weightier issues facing a baby, if only he could speak." Read my full review of The troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy on my blog.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate Waggoner

    Thank you to #NetGalley and HarperCollins Childrens Books for allowing me to read a digital ARC of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu. This book will be published October 12, 2021. All opinions are my own. Marya has spent her life living in the shadow of her brother. Her parents and their small village are sure that he will become a sorcerer. The Guild of Sorcerers protect the kingdom from the Dread, a mysterious evil that kills entire villages with little notice. When the Guild Thank you to #NetGalley and HarperCollins Childrens Books for allowing me to read a digital ARC of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu. This book will be published October 12, 2021. All opinions are my own. Marya has spent her life living in the shadow of her brother. Her parents and their small village are sure that he will become a sorcerer. The Guild of Sorcerers protect the kingdom from the Dread, a mysterious evil that kills entire villages with little notice. When the Guild arrives to test him, Marya makes a series of mistakes. Her brother doesn't get accepted and a letter arrives demanding Marya attend an academy for troubled girls. Dragomir Academy promises to teach Marya and her classmates the skills they need to make something of themselves. The longer Marya's there the more she learns about magic and realizes that everything isn't what it appears. This is a fantastic middle grade novel. It was absolutely captivating, and I loved its positive messages. Marya is an underdog. She's never been expected to amount to much, rather her family has viewed her as a screw-up. The society she lives in views women as either weak or evil. Marya and her friends at Dragomir prove them all wrong. I also love the secondary theme about not believing what your read/hear. Mrs. Bandu tells Marya multiple times to question who the story benefits. This is an incredibly important message for readers. Stories have multiple perspectives and are often told in a way that benefits a specific party. Learning to question this and look for bias can be highly beneficial. Marya and the girls at Dragomir are strong female characters who are actively changing the world they live in, setting a great example for the reader. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to add a copy to my classroom library.

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