Apprentice of Magic by K. M. Shea
Apprentice of Magic is off to a slow start, with a young, naive protagonist who starts out scared of her own magic, and remains that way throughout the whole book. The action picks up about halfway through once her apprenticeship is fully underway, and this is where I really started to enjoy the story line and their adventures. It’s written for a PG audience, and that sometimes come across with Angelique’s naiveté. (This is further enforced by the author’s writing - she uses a passive voice to describe a passive character and then Angelique assumes things like her “sarcastic nature” or “lopsided smile” make her evil. I actually wanted to roll my eyes at that.)
Overall, this is a very cute concept. And it links as the backstory to Shea’s Timeless Fairy Tales series (which I admit I have not read). I think there are ample references to her other series, but even without knowing the backstory, I didn’t miss out on understanding the magic or context of the world-building.
The magic is delightful, with a well thought out and explained caste of magic users. (Although it’s never clarified how old Angelique is, or how long someone studies at the academy until he or she is apprenticed.) Angelique is the strongest user of war magic - ever - with enough power to make the top level magic-user, Enchantress. (Everyone is a Lord or Lady Enchantress, which was very tedious to read when 6 of them were all assembled together.) Too bad for her, all the adults are scared of her power, and do their best to shame and cajole her out of using her magic - only her “master”, Evariste, believes in her ability to use her magic without fear. And their friendship powers the whole second half of the book.