Book Review – De Erfenis van Richard Grenville

Book: De Erfenis van Richard Grenville (De Verborgen Universiteit 1/The Untraceable University 1) by Natalie Koch
Original Release Date: 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Format: Hardcover
Edition: Dutch, released by uitgeverij Q. *
Rating: 4,5 out of 5 stars

*At the moment this book is only out in Dutch.

Dutch Synopsis

Als de negentienjarige Alexa Westerhof een semester aan een kleine Londense universiteit gaat studeren, ontdekt ze al snel dat het gotische gebouw geheimen herbergt, geheimen die ook haar leven voorgoed zullen veranderen. Een dramatische gebeurtenis op de campus brengt haar in contact met magi, mensen met bijzondere krachten, waar ze zelf ook over blijkt te beschikken. Terwijl ze colleges volgt en van het studentenleven geniet, bestudeert ze in het geheim magie en leert haar krachten ontwikkelen. Ze ontdekt dat Londen vol geheime plekken zit, van verborgen kelders en kroegen tot spookmetrostations, en het wordt haar vooral duidelijk dat ze tegenover de buitenwereld niets mag loslaten over deze wereld.

Intussen gebeuren er raadselachtige dingen; als eerst een docent en daarna haar huisgenote, het dromerige goth-meisje Rain, ten prooi vallen aan een onverklaarbare bewusteloosheid, gaat ze op onderzoek uit. Iemand houdt haar in de gaten, maar wie – en waarom?

English Synopsis **

When the nineteen year old Alexa Westerhof decides to study for one semester at a small London university, she quickly discovers that this university holds many secrets. Secrets that will change her life as well. After an incident she discovers magi, people who have magic. Magic that she has as well. While she follows the colleges she signed up for during the day, during the evening she learns how to use magic. She learns about hidden places all throughout London, all the while it becomes clear that the outside world can never know about this magical world.

In the mean time weird things are happening when first a teacher and then a dorm mate become unconscious without explanation.

** Freely translated


This book got into my head. The further I got in it, the more I would be thinking about the characters and the world when I wasn’t reading it. As with other books that have magical schools a lot of reviews are comparing it to Harry Potter. Don’t go into this book thinking this is Harry Potter for adults. Don’t give yourself any expectations.

Alexa, who is Dutch, is the main character who goes to study in England for a semester and discovers the Untraceable University. I really liked her. She is headstrong, and smart. And she loves to read! I also like her relationship with Sander, who is also a great character. The teachers are al interesting, but I need to get to know more about them. Other minor characters like Rain, Stu, Connor and Lester, are interesting also but could do with more background considering the size of this book (600+). I hope that will come in future books.

The world was very interesting. I got a good idea about how their magic works, and how their world works. I loved reading the bits of classes where magic was so strongly attached to language, and all the ethics involved.

As for the plot, this book was mostly a lot of world building. There was a plot line in there about a book with a spell, dragging people into a coma which was resolved. However the intentions weren’t clear to me, and it didn’t make a big impression on me. I felt this part of the book was also the weakest. Alexa who was normally rather smart, made some impulsive decisions that I couldn’t entirely rhyme with her character. It is one of the reasons as to why I didn’t rate this 5 stars.

There was very little romance in this book (most of it came from two teachers), and I liked it. There are options, and mostly things were fairly subtle. Alexa was too busy with everything that had happened to her. Adding in a real romance for her would have felt misplaced and I am glad that the author choose not to go that route. I am very curious to see however if any of my romance ideas will happen in the next two.

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