cover image The Magnolia League

The Magnolia League

Katie Crouch. Little, Brown/Poppy, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-07849-8

In this suspenseful YA debut, the death of 16-year-old Alex's mother thrusts the teenager into the rarified corners of Savannah, Ga., high society, far from her former home in a Bay Area commune. Adult author Crouch (Girls in Trucks) handily conjures the significant culture shock Alex faces after moving into the grand, historic home that belongs to her formidable grandmother, "a ninja with brass knuckles, dressed for a tea party." Layers of intrigue build as Alex learns more about her grandmother's highly regarded but feared Magnolia League, a coterie of upper-crust beauties. The majority of the story is delivered through Alex's authentic first-person narration, though Crouch sometimes uses a chatty omniscient narrator to clue readers in to the powerful forces swirling around Alex; in all, the author evokes an atmospheric Southern setting while taking readers through Alex's discovery of, seduction by, and repulsion to the League's dark secrets to beauty, wealth, and power. Though some characters come across as one-dimensional, dreadlocked Alex is a funny, likable, and stubborn outsider, and the cliffhanger ending should leave fans of romantic fantasy eager for more. Ages 15%E2%80%93up. (May)