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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy by Irena Davidian is the first book in the Abracadabra series. Thirteen year old Aram has finally found the door his grandpa has spent years telling him about. A door that will take him to a place he will never want to leave. Aram is shocked to discover a school filled with magic and sorcerers, where he'll learn how to do spells and fly on carpets. While he studies alchemy and magical history, Aram must also deal with bullies bent on revenge and the looming threat of a powerful sorceress wanting to return. After a murder occurs on campus, Aram begins to note weird occurrences and finds a mysterious student lurking around secret passageways. When no one will believe him, Aram and his new friends embark on an adventure to uncover the Academy's secrets and search through forbidden rooms for answers.
Fans of Harry Potter will quickly fall in love with Abracadabra! Aram discovers a place for himself in this magical new world, but it's the friends he makes that truly help him feel at home. His friends are a diverse group of characters struggling with real teenage problems that just happen to also include magic. They come from different backgrounds, but find a commonality with each other that makes them each a stronger character. Each one is easy to bond with and to relate to. Aram has people he can trust and connect with, which makes his story more complex. He has a confident personality and is fiercely loyal to his friends. He's not afraid to face his fears head on, and is quick to defend others. He's a role model sort of character who is a mix of rebelliousness and morality. Irena Davidian takes every fun and absurd aspect from mythology and fairytales, tempering it with grounded characters. Even the mundane things have a magical quality about them in this world where you'll find Pixie Polo, snowmen guards, and flying brooms and carpets. Even singing cupcakes don't seem far fetched, but just another whimsical part of this magical school.
Despite the fun, plenty of danger and ominous elements can be found throughout, but nothing is ever too extreme. This coming of age journey is just the first step in Aram's adventures as he learns about magic, about himself, and how to help his friends through their own familial struggles. They may go to a magic school and their studies may be rooted in flying, spells, and alchemy, but their experiences and home lives are realistic. A few minor mysteries are scattered throughout and don't get wrapped up, but they do hint at potential stories that may be seen later on. Abracadabra is a delightful read with endearing characters dealing with family, friendship, and growing up in a magical and quirky world.