Death at Dusbar College by Laura DiNovis Berry

Death at Dusbar College by Laura DiNovis Berry
Publisher: Indies United Publishing House
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Welcome to the world of Antyfas where invisible monkeys play and dragons fly! Cristiano has just turned eleven, and his aunt has invited him to visit her at the magical Dusbar College. Wondrous acts of magic and fantastical beasts await him, but can he solve the Grand Magician’s riddle?

What could be better than visiting a magical college?

Some of the best scenes were the ones that showed how Cristiano tried to figure out the mystery that everyone else was also trying to solve. There was a riddle attached to it that was the key to everything. I grinned as he worked through the possible answers to the riddle and hoped he’d be the one to come up with the right answer and win the prize at the end.

I would have liked to see more conflict included in this novella. As fascinated as I was by the world building, there wasn’t much going on with the storyline itself other than the mystery that was soon cleared up. There was so much more the author could have done with these characters and this setting. If she writes a sequel, I hope she’ll give her characters more complex problems to solve as the writing itself was wonderful.

The magic in this universe was delightful. My favorite examples of it were the ones that explained how to do ordinary things like summon a fresh glass of apple juice or tailor a shirt to fit perfectly onto the person wearing it. They weren’t the sort of experiences that I’d ever think of trying to make interesting if I had magical powers, so I was thrilled by how the narrator turned those moments into something unforgettable.

Death at Dusbar College was a playful middle grade mystery that I’d recommend to anyone who also loves modern fantasy.

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