In this book, all your questions about the series will be answered (it is highly recommended that you read Shadow Grail 1: Legacies first). What happens to the kids that were "tithed"? Why is half the student population orphaned? Why did all the -- oh wait, never mind.
In this series, it seems that the adults are all evil and the kids are all conspiracy theorists. The students have a right to; most had never known magic existed before their parents died, and they were flown to Oakhurst Academy and told they were Legacy students (past generations in their family had supposedly gone to that school also), and, (in Spirit's case) turned into a mouse to prove it. But what bugs me the most is what the students theorize about. I mean, they spend a great amount of time investigating a giant tree in the middle of their main hall, and completely miss a HUGE issue. If you read my review of the first book in the Shadow Grail series, you would get what I'm saying, but for the sake of time and having to go through the blog archives to find it, here's a basic intro to two of the characters who illustrate this point:
Spirit: Main Character of the story, the only one at Oakhurst who can't do magic. Her parents and younger sister died in an accident, where "there was a flash of light and [the vehicle lost control]."
Elizabeth: A new character in this book, she can remember her past incarnation as Yseult the Fair of King Arthur's Court. She was orphaned when her parents went out snowmobiling on ice "a foot thick" in "below twenty" weather and fell through a "freak warm spot that thinned the ice, and you couldn't see under the snow."
Similarly, many of the other students had parents who either "committed suicide" or were involved in an accident preceded by a strange flash of light. I don't know about you, but it sounds to me like an obviously magic-caused incident. If I were the main character, I would have run away from the school the moment dorm introductions were over, and yet, Spirit, Addie, Muirin, Locke, and Burke completely ignore this and focus on the tree with the do-not-look charm on it that has nada to do with the plot. Honestly, their failure to realize the similarities in the circumstances of their parents' deaths make me suspect that someone cast a do-not-notice spell on the whole school. To the reader, who is not under the spell however, this fact sticks out way too much. It is almost like placing a bomb at the steps of a government building and putting a sign that says "IGNORE THIS" in foot-high neon letters on top of it to make sure no one notices.
If the previous book in this series was raw cookie dough, this one is raw cookie batter that someone forgot to add flour to before they put it in the oven; so much expectation for it, but in the end it fell flat, albeit in a very epic way.
Review by Elizabeth Chan