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Fledgling by Molly Harper

Fledgling is Molly Harper’s second foray into the young adult world. Her first novel in the series, Changeling, introduced readers to Cassandra Smith and her world of the magical haves and the nonmagical have-nots. We see Cassandra’s struggles to adapt to her new magic-wielding world through her time at Ms. Castwell’s finishing school. This time around, readers get to see a little more of her world as she and her friends travel to Scotland on summer holiday, all while attempting to save changeling children like Cassandra herself.

I was not quite as enamored by this new world of Ms. Harper’s as I was the first time. The story is perfectly fine, and the characters are as adorable as ever. The only difference is that I read the first novel and listened to the second.

Now, I adore Amanda Ronconi. I think she is a stellar narrator, and I believe she does a decent job narrating Fledgling. For the story, she must adopt a myriad of English dialects and accents, including Scottish, Irish, private-school educated, and the wide range in between, and I can tell the difference in all of them. They may not be 100 percent accurate, but in my opinion, they are believable accents. I think my hangup is that Ms. Ronconi is just not English, and I missed her Kentucky/southern drawl I normally hear her use when narrating anything by Ms. Harper. So my lack of excitement from listening to this particular novel has less to do with the story or the performance and more my own hangups about how the narrator normally performs.

Fledgling is silly and, yes, somewhat predictable. The characters’ actions are slightly outlandish and unbelievable, but then again, we are talking about a story wherein a young woman born into the servant class suddenly finds herself with magical powers and is adopted by the very same family she was serving to pass as their magical, high-born niece. This young woman then goes on to save the day at her boarding school and now in Scotland. So, having the characters do some unbelievable things is rather a moot point. The story does take a more serious turn towards the end, one I welcome. For that reason, I look forward to seeing how Ms. Harper plans to finish the series. I probably won’t be listening to it though.

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