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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Notorious by Sudha Kuruganti is the first book in the Legend Valley Academy series. Mal Jones works a side hustle making fake IDs but she still hasn't earned the money for a car and has plans to go bigger with her business. Mal's faced with a choice after getting busted by a cop that reveals she's not the only one with magic and points out she doesn't have her Magic Wielding Learner's Permit. Her abilities are outed to her mother and she's given an offer to attend a paranormal boarding school which gives her a way out before her choices catch up to her. Despite her mother's wishes, she has no choice but to accept the offer to the boarding school, which happens to be in a completely different dimension. Everything seems to be looking up for Mal with a new school, new friends, and new opportunities to learn about her abilities, but she quickly discovers more is happening at the school than meets the eye. Not to mention that the dad who left when she was just a baby is famous and that's just the beginning.
The Legend Valley Academy gives Mal a new path and a chance at a brighter future by teaching her about herself, giving her control over her abilities, and allowing her to make friends who are learning the same things. She gets a chance to put her trouble-making behind her in exchange for a new form of education, which is where the bulk of the story takes place. Mal is a strong-willed character with big ideas, a lot of personality, and an attitude that makes her funny, charming, and gives her room to grow and evolve. She discovers more to Legend Valley than what's on the surface which becomes a mystery at the root of the story and has her looking deeper at her new home. She discovers a threat even more dangerous than the criminal she left at home, which brings her up against a being called the Shadow. Sudha Kuruganti creates a story with humor and an upbeat tone and plenty of witty dialogue. Notorious is a coming-of-age journey about a teenager who has the opportunity to change her circumstances with a paranormal school that will allow her to find herself, harness the best of her abilities, and even become a hero.