Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven

Narrated by: Amanda Ronconi
Series: Harley Merlin Series, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
Categories: Romance, Paranormal
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,989 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When a rogue 19-year-old witch is recruited to help guard an ancient magical Bestiary, mystery and danger ensue....
_____________________________________________

Being an empath has its advantages.

Harley Merlin can sense people's emotions, among other things. It's how she snagged her first job pinpointing cheaters at a casino.

But she has no clue where she got these freakish powers because she spent her childhood jumping from home to home in the foster system, and her father left her with nothing more than a cryptic note.

Then she crosses paths with a terrifyingly real monster. Which is when a mysterious and annoyingly arrogant young warlock named Wade Crowley steps in, introducing her to a hidden world of beasts, magicals, and covens riddled with secrets - as well as clues about her murky past.

Whether she likes it or not, this new world is where she belongs. But after a disturbing twist of events, Harley quickly realizes that her past is darker than she could ever have imagined.

And that someone in the coven is out for her blood.

With the help of Wade and her new friends, she must figure out who the traitor is and why they're targeting her... Before the human and magical worlds dangerously collide.

Potter fans, welcome to an exciting new world.
_____________________________________________

If you love J.K. Rowling or Cassandra Clare, this will be a ride you won't want to miss.

Buy now and start listening....

*Beware of spoilers in the reviews below that are without spoiler alerts.* 

©2018 Bella Forrest (P)2018 Bella Forrest

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Definitely not "Harry Potter for adults"

Here we have a fairly decent (if uninspired) urban fantasy plot, with characters who, while well developed, behave as though much younger than they are.

The highlight of this audiobook is the narrator. Amanda Ronconi has a deep understanding of these Characters and has a fantastic array of voices. Even her male voices are impressive. Her control of tempo and vocal inflections are equally impressive.

I'm rating this book higher than my personal enjoyment would suggest on account of it being largely personal taste.

There is a really good setup here with an interesting world and good character development, apart from a few inconsistencies and contradictions.

My biggest issue is all the late teen and early twenties characters who act like thirteen to sixteen-year-olds. The main character, for example, shows about as much emotional control as my hormonal thirteen-year-old daughter. Similarly, there is a rivalry between two male characters in their early twenties that reminds me of nothing so much as the cod-swinging contest common among fifteen and sixteen-year-old boys.

I've debated bringing this up, but I think it bears mentioning. I discovered this book through an advertisement calling it "Harry Potter for adults."

Unfortunately, I found that far from accurate. In terms of plot, complexity, and details of the world building, it's not terribly far off the mark. The ages of the characters are also in line.

But this is not an adult book. Based on the maturity level of the characters, I would call it young YA. It makes for a good step up from Fablehaven, but it's a step down after finishing the Harry Potter series.

Finally, though a bit predictable the ending came together well with a nice tying together of the various threads of the story.

113 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I gave up...

God save us from yet another novel about a redhead with poor impulse control. That cliche was old when L.M. Montgomery wrote "Anne of Green Gables" over a hundred years ago.

This book started out with a very promising first chapter and then just went into fully on Harry Potter mode (substitute Witch for Wizard, San Diego Coven for Hogwarts, look there's a gender-bent Harry and Hermione, there's Malfoy and his lackeys, oh look that must be Hagrid and Dumbledore). The writing is horribly derivative and poorly edited, the plot is telegraphed so blatantly that you almost expected to see semaphore flags on the pages, the characters are all supposedly adults who act like hormone crazed high school children.

I tried to hang on to the end to see if I read the semaphore flags correctly but frankly it's not worth the effort, there are better books to listen to and better ways to spend my time.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Torn

So lots of the reviews I read about this said that it was terrible because it's nothing like Harry Potter...well duh. So I'm not going by "is it like Harry Potter" because honestly I think it's fair to say that nothing is quite like Harry Potter. Instead, I'm rating this as it's own book..not by comparing it to others.
It was good. The story was intriguing and exciting..the ideas were unique. I have it 3 stars because I have a reallllly hard time with the main character...which as you can imagine makes things difficult. From what I can tell initially Harley is supposed to be 19 and independent and a spunky/cool/loner type...but then on the flip side..her personality seems really childish to me. Kind of like a freshman in high school. She is a magical empath which is a really cool twist but she likes to make fun of people and tease a lot...which is whatever..but she also shows very little sympathy for anyone which, as a "non magical"/real world empath, I very much dislike. She mostly just feels their feelings and is like "Oh well, they deserve it".
I also have a hard time with the fact that while the author does a good job at focusing on explaining the emotions of everyone around Harley..Harleys emotions seem rather two dementional. Also the fact that she hardly recognizes when she is attracted to a man bothers me. Shes all "for some reason he touched my arm and looked into my eyes and my heart skipped a beat and I couldn't breath" and I'm like..."how do you not understand what that is? It's not rocket science " I understand being confused about your emotions, but being completely oblivious to them bothers me.
Back to the "freshman" thing, I actually have to constantly remind myself that these characters are in their 20s because I feel like I'm reading about a group of high schoolers. I think there is just a lack of maturity to some of the characters and it throws me off a bit.
Last thing the whole stigma of Harley being classified as mediocre bothers me so much. Not because I think she should have been classified differently, but because Harley let's it be such a big deal to her. I think that's one of the authors points is to kind of end up killing that stereotype and everything which is great, so I dont mind that most everyone else looks down on Harleys status because it's part of the culture and they aren't perfect, etc. But I feel like Harley is so uncaring about everything else..and if shes going to be a rebel, she needs to just be a rebel and say "screw this, I dont care how you view me." Clearly that's not a personality for every kind of character to take onZaza but it matches Harley way better than her being like "well...I can't amount to anything because I'm mediocre so I guess I'll just pout about it." I feel like its inconsistent with the beginning when she says that her body and mind a screaming to her that she is anything but ordinary.
..This was way long and I really dont feel like going back through and editing before posting so sorry. All those things to say...it has its faults like every book...and its probably not for everyone..but I liked it and I'm starting the second one so we will see if Harley matures at all..hopefully.
P.S. I was unsure about narrator at first, but she's really good...super impressive with her switches in accents and dialogue. Good character portrayals, etc.

131 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The beginning of a new book series addiction!

Not going to lie, I almost gave up on this book after 7 or so chapters in as it was a pretty slow start for me, and I just couldn't get into it. However, since I had already purchased it, and it was an audio book that I could listed to while cleaning, cooking, etc., I decided to "read" it all the way through...and I am so glad that I did! I am almost through the 4th book in the series in just 3 weeks because I can't put them down! The suspense was killing me though, so I had to purchase 3 and 4 on Kindle since they're not out in audible yet. I am so glad to have finally found another book series that I could get addicted to! Can't wait to see what happens next!

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

When I heard this was a great read for adult Harry Potter fans, I was excited. But after listening for awhile, I am rather disappointed. I think a younger version of myself may have enjoyed this book, but at 25 Harley really annoys me. I would recommend this book to pre-teens and that’s about it.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Harry Potter Meets Discovery of Witches

Having read both exceptional series', I couldn't help but notice the common story lines between these two books. I'll be very interested to see future installments of this series. I was actually very pleased that Discovery of Witches comes through in this, it meant that the book series was read.

Don't hesitate to get this book, especially if you like Amanda Ronconi as narrator. She always does a wonderful job. And if you haven't read the All Souls Series by Deborah Harkness, definitely get that and read it. They have even made a TV series about it.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boo Hoo

I've listened to the 1st 6 books and they could all have been told in one if not for the endless stupidity and useless banter.
I hadn't reviewed any until book six and now this one.
They are the dumbest people on the planet or the writer is a child.
I don't even care how it ends now because obviously it's going to be the same stupid mistakes until the end and it will be stupid I'm sure.
I guess I'll get a condensed version from other readers comments because I'm no longer interested enough to listen for 10 hours a book to find out something that could be told in 10 minutes.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Totally captured. Didn't want to stop listening!

Very different take and great plot with nice twists and turns. My only problem is the rest of the series isn't on audio yet and I just HAVE to keep reading to find out what happens next. The narrator for this one did a great job with various voices and accents. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing!

19 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Amateur Rip-Off

Their calling this a Harry Potter for adults? Really?? The marketing team needs to be honest with themselves. I fear most high school age teens would find it too adolescent. It's for young teens at best. The writing style, story layout, character design and vocabulary is amateur at best. Harley is not likable, neither are the supporting characters and her name is honestly a joke. A witch named Merlin? Seriously??

The dialogue was distracting. It's peppered with half-hearted quotes like, "What the--?" and "You son of a--" and it's always cut off before the curse is said. I don't need bad language to make a story good and show emotion, but I realllyyy don't need to be babied through censored dialogue. If this is for adults, why are they almost cursing just to censor it? It's like they are going for that edgy, angsty teen punch but without the payout.

An adult-aged Harley Merlin surely would've dropped the F-bomb if her house burned down. If she wouldn't have cursed then give her the ability to express herself as the clever character she's supposedly portrayed as and not just vapidly describe horrific situations like "'Holy f--' I let out before I was interrupted by Wade's hand on my shoulder. I was devastated to say the least."

This was clearly meant to be for a younger audience and it seems like the publishing company decided it was better suited for adults so they through a few adult aspects into the mix to separate it from the Harry Potter franchise. Here's the problem with that though. Harley is not different enough from Harry. Their stories are so similar in all the important aspects. They should not have acknowledged the similarities at all. Then people would just have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

- Harley - Harry (similar names even?)
- Harley is an orphan raised by people she didn't like and found out she was a witch when she met other 'magicals'. So did Harry...
- Harley joined a coven. Harry joined a school.
- There's even a scene where Harley talks to a snake... come on.

You can't just slap a leather jacket, 10 years and a vagina on a character and call them different. Please be original.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Targeted at a YA audience, but still fun

This is YA fiction, a "coming of age" story. No, it is not another Harry Potter or LOTR. This is good quality serialized fantasy, which targets typical high school students. If that's where you set your expectations, this can still be a fun read for adults hoping to remember their youth. Personally I would say the characters aren't too far off base for typical college-aged kids still figuring out how the world works (particularly ones with supernatural powers). While the magic system isn't as deeply thought out as HP or WOT, it's far better than some books passing for fantasy nowadays. Yes, the political structure in the books and the plots are a lot more focused on young adults than they would be in the real world. Yes, if you've read a few hundred fantasy books, you will find the plot pretty predictable, but this is true of most books. I enjoyed the first one, and will read the second. Good light read to distract you from real-world problems.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Emily Hopkinson
  • 01-10-19

Good but plot a bit less exciting than expected

The writing and characters were good. Plot started strong but did start to lose me in the middle as there didn't seem to be much action. This could be because the narrator read at the same steady pace throughout, even at tense parts of the book. A good first novel with a good concept of a new magical world.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-15-19

very descriptive

obsessed with describing people's eyes but if you can get over that there's some good world building

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Fairy
  • 09-01-19

Great performance, ok book

Amazing performance by the narrator, a range of voices and accents meant it was hard to believe that it was not a whole cast of character. She enhanced the story immensely.

Book is ok, there is a lot of the same story around after HP and I suppose this is probably a good one.

However, I didn't warm to the heroine, her self-preservation honed sarcastic and cynical nature was unpleasant. It does make her interesting, and a bit funny and I do appreciate it is probably a more stereotypical personality character for an abandoned child with bad foster experiences but hey it is a paranormal story, not expecting life like. She warms up by the end but it is not enough to counter the climax of the book.

I would give it 3 stars because the story jumps straight into all that is negative about the MC's newly discovered roots and then it all goes wrong from there. It misses the mark for me as there is no counterpoint for the bad, negative and disaster of the book. It gains a star for the narration.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • lymara charles
  • 04-18-19

Loved it

I would rate this book 5 stars just for the narration. She is brilliant, she does accents and the part with the intercom was brilliant. The book itself is great and I’m jumping straight into the second as purchased that by the 5th chapter so all in all I would encourage anyone to listen to this.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-31-19

Disappointed

This book was advertised as the next Harry Potter and got good reviews so thought I would give it ago! I had very high expectations due to this comparison but was very disappointed as it does not compare at all. Firstly, I thought the book was rushed- had the author made it much longer and gone into more detail and developed a deeper plot it would have been good, it left a lot of unanswered questions. I did not warm to the main character and found her irritating, the language use was very casual. Secondly, the main characters were all supposedly adults but appeared more like squabbling teenagers at high school, having fights and arguments constantly.

I did however find myself wanting to find out what happend next and the narration was very good. Had I read this book 10 years ago as a teenager I would have probably enjoyed it more. I think this book is more geared towards younger readers. I dont think I will read the next book.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo Wallwork
  • 07-24-19

Not great

I fell for the marketing hype. It was fairly entertaining but the parts that were similar to HP made me cringe. The lead character was not likeable and the whole book felt too contrived and formulaic. Also some of the bad language in it makes it unsuitable for children and the rest of the language was not particularly extensive. I won't be reading the rest in the series.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • RP
  • 08-15-19

Really liked but Series finishes at Book 6

Loved listening to these books but the Audible series finishes at Book 6 out of 11 which is disappointing as this is the second Bella Forest series that this has happened with. Won't be buying her books again. Good books, which I enjoyed but haven't got time to buy the books to read them.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • patricia d.
  • 07-11-19

disappointed

I did not like this book at all I was very disappointed with it will not buy any more form this author

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sarah Smith
  • 03-22-19

The audio is annoying its distorted

I'm struggling to continue as the dotorted audio is making me want to throw it out of the window. The story is interesting but the narrator isn't my cup of tea and that mixed with the distortion has rained this book for me.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dawn
  • 07-10-19

Average Read

Very average read. Was quite excited reading other reviews but it wasn’t for me, didn’t really capture me like other books

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-12-19

Not very good writing

I really wanted to like this book. I had just finished the Discovery of Witches Trilogy, when I picked this up and I was really looking forward to a new magical adventure. Unfortunately this book did not meet my expectations. I found the authors writing style to be very unsophisticated. Her choices of words such as “dude” or “chill” made the book feel very much like a high school English assignment. The authors overall writing style was immature and unsophisticated and in the end I couldn’t even finish it. Was there a potential for a good story here? Maybe. Unfortunately it ended up reading like an angsty teenage girls diary.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-17-20

Poorly written YA fiction

The writing is extremely unpolished, and the characters seemed very flat and stereotypical. Main character is basically a Mary Sue, and the awkward, too obvious love interest angle made me cringe.
Also, too many similarities to Harry Potter to seem very original.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rachel
  • 05-05-20

review book

struggled to finish this just not my thing sorry bit looked good in the file

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • lisa
  • 04-29-20

Book was ok

I loved the narrator she did an amazing job, the story was ok I just found it slow and pretty boring not to mention Harley is a very annoying character.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-31-20

Great plot and world building

I really like the plot and premise of this story it's very 'American' it was recommended if I like Harry Potter I would like this, I wouldn't go that far but there is a nice interaction between magical and non magical worlds etc.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Imee_Benz
  • 12-30-19

***The secret Coven***

I wont give it a five star review because I struggled a bit, there wasn't enough action but I realised it's a paranormal drama so yeah it's not bad. I would have like more oomph in it but there are some redeeming moments towards the end. It's a bit slow for my taste sorry. But the Narrative is brilliant I have no complain thanks Amanda you're one if my favourite.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tenayah Harris
  • 12-18-19

Loved it!

Loved the story and the narrator ❤️❤️
Heaps of twists and turns;
Some parts made me cringe but I think that just makes you more attached to some of the characters.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tessa
  • 11-23-19

fantastic story

full of magic and some mystery loved every second of to listen to the next book in the series

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-10-19

Harry Potter for Grownups

Not quite original (a lot of plots and ideas mirroring Harry Potter) but entertaining and narrated pretty well... it’s great when you can distinguish the different characters from a single voice telling the story. I will definitely move on to the next book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alecia
  • 06-10-19

Well written and intriguing storyline!!!

I enjoyed the constant flow of the novel, with an intriguing plot, which kept me wrapt. Love the Harley character!!