The Truth Spell (Werewolf High Book One), by Anita Oh

Picture this: You come from a meager, practically poor, background, and people close to you from your past are dead. You’re the new student at an exclusive (and somewhat geographically hidden) boarding school—one with majestic architecture, a sweeping landscape which borders a forest. The new school has different houses for the students, including one for the elite students. You suddenly find yourself in a world where magic and werewolves exists, and you’re the only person who can save the school from some sort of disaster.

Sound somewhat familiar?

But our hero isn’t Harry Potter, and this school isn’t Hogwarts. Instead, our plucky and likeable heroine is Lucy O’Connor, and the school is Amaris High. There seems to be the usual “types” found in a typical high school here: the overachievers, the wants-to-be-involved-in-everything girl, some bullying, the popular crowd including the brooding bad boy. What exactly could those rich and popular residents of “Gold House” be hiding inside?

Lucy comes with an exceptional and mysterious backstory. Her neighbor and best friend Sam supposedly died a few years earlier, brutally killed along with the rest of his family. Her father is also unaccounted for. The real initial incident of the book comes when Lucy spots Sam—or someone that looks like Sam—at school, hanging out with golden boy Tennyson Wilde. When Lucy tries to investigate, she’s targeted by the Wildes, who try bullying her into leaving the school.

I admire Lucy’s attitude through the story. She’s not going to let the Widles get the best of her. She’s going to find out if who she sees is Sam or not. She’s going to get to the bottom of the potentially catastrophic dilemma that has befallen the school—or at least use a part of it to her advantage.

Somehow, a spell has been cast upon the school which compels everyone to tell the truth. Think of the Jim Carrey film Liar, Liar, but in less of a slapstick comedic way and more in a borderline scary way. The students and faculty can only speak the truth, and some of them become gravely ill as they avoid attending classes for fear of revealing things. For some reason, Lucy didn’t come across as affected as others by this spell. I really like the idea of the secrets people holding inside them literally making them sick, and I wish the book had explored this idea a little further than it did.

I actually found this book through the product page for its upcoming sequel—The Tiny Curse—which sounded very interesting to me. I’m not going to read book two before book one, so I figured hey, the book’s inexpensive; what great loss is there if I don’t enjoy it? But you know what? I did enjoy it—in a very Harry-Potter-lite kind of way. It has nowhere near the depth of world building that J.K. Rowling is capable of—but other than say J.R.R. Tolkein and George R.R. Martin, who else really is?

The plot of The Truth Spell is engaging, the conflict is intriguing, and the characters are believable enough. I wish there was a little more depth to the world, and some seemingly important details were left hanging, but both of those may be resolved in later books. Nonetheless, it was an easy, quick, and fun read. No truth spell is needed for me to give it THREE AND A HALF STARS, hoping that Book Two, The Tiny Curse, is at least a tiny bit better.

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The Truth Spell is available at Amazon.

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