This week I picked up the first book in the new The University of the Unseen series by B.A. Lovejoy, “Ivy and Ash”. I’ve found myself reading a lot of magic- and paranormal-related stories lately, so this one definitely piqued my interest from the series title alone. Add to that the fact that after reading the Alice: Pick a Card series by Lovejoy I’m completely in love with her writing and will henceforth pick up anything she writes, this sounded like a win-win! Thus, I obviously jumped on this review copy the moment Booksirens and B.A. Lovejoy sent me an email saying it was ready for my greedy little hands.
So how did it rate? Let’s find out with this quick review!
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, New Adult
Publication Date: May 19, 2023
Long ago, the infamous Knox Brothers created a university, one of such renown that few outside of wizarding society’s elite would ever walk through its gates—The University of the Unseen.
But that was then, and this is now, and I, Ana Nilsen, the daughter of a mere factory worker have been accepted into the sophomore class, working underneath the cantankerous Dr. Jones, aiding in his research regarding the limitations of a human soul.
Or at least, that’s what I expected to be doing, until a series of letters threatening my very existence began to appear—letters that I fear may be tied to an attack on George Sacks—a fellow student who seems to know too much for his own good, and the horrific crimes of Simon Petrov, my predecessor.
Now, if I want any hope of finding out who’s sending them, I have to turn to Rowan Avarelle—my competitor and the son of my master’s archrival, the closest that Knox University has to royalty. A man who I am, by all accounts, meant to hate, and yet cannot seem to stay away from.
But Rowan has secrets of his own, and the University of the Unseen is far from what it seems. Especially with rumors of a secret society as old as the university itself that is willing to do anything to ensure the success of its members…
What I liked about the book:
1. Lovejoy’s writing is always so pretty and neat. The description she gives to everything as well as the personality that flows through her writing is ultimately what keeps me coming back for more!
2. Lovejoy’s feminism is still on point! One of the things I loved so much about the Alice: Pick a Card series was how much Lovejoy pointed out society’s, still many, faults in the area of equality. Whether it be Wonderland, a magical university, or just the everyday world, B.A. expertly highlights the small things women still get told on “how to present themselves” and what a “lady should do”, while also having her FMCs tear down those walls with snide remarks and a large metaphorical middle finger. Because of this, her FMCs are always fiery and intelligent, which I can’t get enough of!
3. She writes mysterious boys with beautiful smirks well! I’m not usually into blonde guys, but somehow I am now, also, in love with Rowan Avarelle, despite his many mysteries and flaws. I wish I could say more, but let’s just say, the butterflies are always in full effect when reading chapters with Lovejoy’s MMCs.
What could have been better:
1. While I liked both MCs on their own, I ultimately did not feel the connection the author tried to illustrate. I felt there was not enough background into their growing friendship to illicit the feelings they did/could share for each other. Ultimately, they were lacking a connection for me, which is super unfortunate given they are obviously going to be love interests throughout this whole series.
2. For the first book in a story, it was lacking in the history and worldbuilding I would have liked to see. For the first book, this is your chance to establish all about the world, the characters, the background that we’ll need going forward, however, I felt like this was a pretty normal college story that just happened to have a bit of magic. Not exactly what I was looking for with this one, but still fine.
3. Overall, there were a lot of times where I wasn’t really sure what was happening. While I’m sure this book is setting up a lot for future books, the first book in a new series should envelope you in intrigue and give you just enough to keep you wanting to progress in the series. Honestly, if this wasn’t B.A. Lovejoy, I probably wouldn’t continue. But I have faith that she will get us there!
Not what I was looking for exactly, but I will continue with the series.
Thank you to Booksirens, and B.A. Lovejoy for the copy of this book. The review expressed above is honest and my own.