Jewel is about to start a new school and she has the usual worries. Fitting in, making up the time she’s missed, getting over being dumped by her boyfriend. And she’s worried because her adoptive guardians are concerned that she still hasn’t discovered her main magical abilities yet.
Written in the first person, Jewel is an easy and enjoyable read although it does have one or two darker edges which might put it at the older end of the YA audience. Jewel herself is easy to relate to since we can all understand some of the things she goes through early on; making friends, failing in class, gaining attention. These earlier sections do go at a slower pace but they never drag. As she begins to learn what her powers are and as a plot against one of her classmates becomes increasingly dangerous, the pace picks up considerably, culminating in an all-out attack on Jewel and her friends.
The Norma Jean (yes, that Norma Jean) School of Witchery is a young adult off-shot of some of Ms. Montague’s other work. I will admit I have not read any of those other books as of yet and since some of the characters do overlap (Jewel’s guardians are the main characters of the Three J’Amigo’s series) I did feel like I was missing a little bit of back story during the first chapter. But for the most part, this faded as the narrative focuses on Jewel and her new school.
There is enough given about the history and some of the supporting characters to hint about the larger world beyond the school but it doesn’t feel forced and or excessive. There is a sequel available although, this book is perfectly capable of standing on its own. I would say it also serves as a gateway into the larger, more adult, series. I know it has for me, since I’m already eyeing the author’s other books.