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Literature: Rachel Griffin
The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin is a 2013 YA novel by L Jagi Lamplighter (author of the Prospero's Daughter trilogy), followed by The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel. These are the first in a projected series of novels about the eponymous heroine's adventures at school and beyond.

Thirteen year old Rachel Griffin has been attending the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts (a school of magic like no other) for two days before she discovers hints of a world-shattering—or world ending—secret unknown to any of the Wise; meets a princess and a dragon-slaying hero, and saves her friend from being murdered. On day three...

It is set in an Alternate History, where monotheism was a brief historical anomaly, but there are just enough hints of things being awry that we can suspect it is indeed our world, altered. As when Rachel sees a statue of a human with bird wings and is baffled by what it could represent — obviously not a fairy, since the wings are not butterfly ones.


The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Magdalene Chase's. They are actually her aunt and uncle, which partly explains it.
  • Academy of Adventure: So much.
  • The Ace: Vladimir has a rack of Olympic medals—from different events—all but one of them gold or silver.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Rachel realizes that she and Vladimir von Dread are the only people truly interested in saving the multiverse from ultimate destruction.
  • Adults Are Useless: the adults in the school are useful for helping you get to the infirmary after you've been Baleful Polymorphed by bullies, but not for helping you get rid of an invisible wraith feeding on one of the students, and they are all prone to giving stupid orders to the heroes, such as "stay here quietly while we fight off the bad guys."
    • In The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, none of the adults are willing to share information, and are alternately demanding whatever Rachel and her friends do know, and completely dismissing them.
    • Gaius gives as reason for his loyalty to von Dread that he is less incompetent and more interested in the wellbeing of the students than any of the teachers.
  • Ain't No Rule: Against having your friends hit you to get you into the infirmary.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Zoe and Joy to Sigfried.
  • Alpha Bitch: Possibly deconstructed. Nastasia shows a very mild, Proper Lady-infused take on this, by being the (unwilling) head of a devoted (one-girl) Girl Posse, who is silently jealous of Rachel's accomplishments.
  • Amazon Chaser: Sigfried asks Valerie out immediately after she demonstrates the correct way to wear and draw a Bowie knife.
    • Gaius is also extremely impressed when he learns about Rachel recovering from a broomstick crash and paralyzing her opponent on the way down.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Due to being the first book in a series, Unexpected Enlightenment ends rather abruptly, with several secondary plots only partially resolved. The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel continues immediately after.
  • Apocalypse How: Book one hints at a Class 5 or 6—planetary extinction or destruction. Book two implies a danger of Class Z, omniversal annihilation.
  • Arranged Marriage: Nastasia expects one, with perfect equanimity.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses
  • Baleful Polymorph: Vladimir von Dread turns Gaius Valiant into a sheep. Temporarily.
  • Because You Can Cope: Rachel is allowed to keep certain powers and memories because she can be trusted with them.
  • Big Eater: Sigfried, but played seriously: his upbringing has taught him the necessity of hiding caches of food.
  • Big Good: Vladimir von Dread appears to be.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: the jumbo jet seems to be one, although it may be expounded in another book.
  • Big Man on Campus: Vladimir Von Dread, Gaius Valiant.
  • Big Damn Heroes
  • Blue Blood: Rachel. She is, indeed, as close to the royals as she could be without having royal blood.
  • Broken Pedestal: Rachel's grandparents: her grandmother was a Vestal Virgin who broke her vows, and her grandfather enabled it.
  • The Cavalry: the Wisecraft officers in book 2.
  • Cuteness Overload: Siegfried suffers one after seeing Rachel and Nastasia dancing a jig of joy.
  • The Chosen One: Joy and Nastasia are (perhaps) the subjects of a prophecy.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: When the wraith, which Rachel can see but Sigfried can't, attacks Rachel, she reports the fact calmly and tries describe its position.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: the "vampire hunter wannabe" club is mentioned by Gaius in a throwaway line, one and a half chapters before the heroes encounter a wraith feeding on a fellow student. Jonah Strega is also namedropped ominously several times before he comes on stage.
  • Comically Missing the Point
  • Commonality Connection: Both Gaius and Rachel got to start the school a year early.
  • Conflicting Loyalties: Rachel faces this when she finds Gaius, the boy she has a crush on, is also her beloved older brother's bitter rival.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Vladimir Von Dread wears thick black gloves, possibly to invoke the Gloved Fist of Doom.
  • Crush Blush: "My love" — which is a regional saying that means nothing — still turns Rachel's face hot enough to fry eggs on it.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Nastasia's father, the king of Magical Australia, is described as an extreme example of this by his children. Rachel, when she gets a chance to observe him, thinks that he is instead someone with a very twisted sense of humor.
  • The Ditz: Sigfried cannot/will not concentrate on anything that does not pertain to blowing things up, stabbing them, setting them on fire, or other such knightly pursuits. It's only with difficulty he can be persuaded to think about saving the world.
  • Disappeared Dad: Valerie Foxx's father, a detective, vanished before the series begins. The second book reveals that he had been seen talking to the Big Bad the day before.
  • Dragon Hoard: Sigfried and Lucky "inherited" one after the decease of its previous owner. As per the trope, they also sleep on it.
  • Driving Question:
    • The Unexpected Enlightenment: Who or what is the Raven? What does the winged statue in the forest represent?
    • The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel: How many worlds are there? How are people drawn or transferred between them? Who is causing them to be destroyed?
  • Dream Walker: Zoe.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Nastasia Romanov, princess of Magical Australia.
  • Every Girl Is Cuter with Hair Decs: Rachel wears a polka-dot hairbow, Sakura Suzuki wears bells on her ponytails.
  • Evil Is Sexy: In-universe for Vladimir Von Dread.
  • Epic Hail
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Justified, as the heroes are using magic to assist them.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Five days.
  • Expy: According to the author, the series is based on a Massive Multiplayer Crossover role-playing game created and played by her family, and the finished story contains non-public domain characters with the "serial-numbers filed off."
    • Sakura Suzuki seems to be the expy of a Magical Girl anime heroine.
    • Mr. Chanson the gym teacher appears to be an expy of Superman.
  • Fainting Seer: Nastasia.
    • Xandra Harris, also known as "Flops Over Dead Chick" is acerbically happy to see this happening to someone else, for once.
  • Fangirl: Joy for Nastasia.
  • Famed in Story: Sigfried Smith is an in-universe celebrity for having killed a dragon and taken its hoard. He also saved Roanoke campus from a flying, flaming skunk.
  • Female Gaze: Rachel falls into the tween version of this occasionally.
  • Fighting from the Inside: People under a geas can usually do this. However, a new kind of geas has been invented in which the geassed person may not be aware of their compulsions, and thus unable to fight back.
  • Flying Broomstick: Rachel owns "Vroomie," a hand-made steeplechaser. "Bristleless" Flycycles are also mentioned.
  • Generation Xerox: There are an awful lot of "John" and "Wendy" Darlings, all related to the famous original family.
  • Genius Loci: Idunn's daughter, the titular Elf of the second book.
  • Glomp: Joy does this to the too-gracious-to-decline Nastasia at every opportunity. A line from Sakura Suzuki suggests she does it to everybody.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: The colors of the Eternal Flame, which is guarded by the Vestal Virgin and harms only the wicked.
  • Go Through Me
  • Good Is Not Nice
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: the Raven.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Nastasia, a Princess Classic with long blonde hair.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Gaius. She had, after all, just met him and was rather younger at an age where a few years is significant.
  • He's Just Hiding: In-Universe. Enoch Smythwick, the student who had seemingly made a Heroic Sacrifice in the previous book, is revealed to have survived but been concealed in case of further reprisals.
  • Heroic Sacrifice
  • Heroic Willpower: Valerie and Magdalene both try to fight off their geases.
  • Honor Before Reason: Nastasia has trouble with the idea of distributing false information to find out who The Mole is, because it would involve lying.
  • Human Sacrifice: the spell that draws people out of their own worlds requires this.
  • First Name Basis: Rachel asks if she can call von Dread, "Vlad."
  • Forgot I Could Fly: In the climax of The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, Sigfried starts to charge into battle with his Bowie knife, then stops and remembers he knows magic.
  • I Can Still Fight
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Lucky, Sigfried's familiar and sidekick.
  • Impact Silhouette: In a brick wall and through two hundred feet of earth—not normally survivable even for a wizard.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Valerie Foxx, Fearless Girl Reporter!
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Lucky, a juvenile dragon, describes one character as "petting" another; his similarly juvenile master misses the implications as well.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Magdalene Chase's parents (actually her aunt and uncle) punish her for being useless to them for a rite of child sacrifice, because the victim must be loved by her parents.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The absence of monotheism has not perturbed history much. Perhaps justified by the way history is being altered, in universe.
  • Kid Hero: Sigfried Smith, dragonslayer, is an in-universe version of this.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Peter to Rachel, when he learns of Gaius. Vladimir von Dread also has shades of this, when he orders Gaius to leave Rachel alone.
  • Lady and Knight: Sigfried swears fealty to, and is "knighted" by Nastasia.
  • The Ladys Favor
  • Large And In Charge: Vladimir von Dread is the tallest of the cast, and certainly believes himself to be in charge.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Almost everyone has had their memories tampered with. —To remove traces of the other universes.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Rachel and Siegfried.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Try keeping track of all the students.
  • Lonely Doll Girl: Magdalene Chase. Not so much lonely as bullied and helpless.
  • Magic Mirror: Siegfried has an amulet that functions somewhat like this, allowing him to see in all directions and through walls.
  • Male Gaze: Siefried's memories features this prominently for everybody except Rachel.
  • January-May Romance: Between Rachel (13, but looks younger) and Gaius (16).
  • Mind-Control Eyes
  • The Masquerade: discussed and examined. It takes one of the protagonists to ask the obvious question: if the World of the Wise uses obscurations and Laser-Guided Amnesia to hide from the mundane world, what protects the same thing from happening to them?
  • Motor Mouth: Sigfriend Smith.
  • Morality Chain: Mortimer Egg's family.
  • Magic Music: Nastasia uses a violin, Sigfried a trumpet. Another character uses bagpipes.
    • Magical Flautist: Rachel initially uses a flute, but soon learns to simply whistle the notes to her spells.
  • Never Was This Universe
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Vladimir Von Dread (which is lampshaded: another character remarks she's always thought it was pronounced "Dreed"). Dr. Mordeau.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Sterling example: Rachel knows the keyword to bind Azrael, the demon possessing Mortimer Egg. When she tries to tell her sister Laurel this, Laurel turns around and jinxes her voice so Rachel can't distract her from the fight.
  • The Oathbreaker: Those who walk the Dark Path were greatly strengthened when a Vestal Virgin broke her vows.
  • Offhand Backhand: Vladimir von Dread is quite good at these.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Siggy lived in one.
  • Parental Favoritism: The Griffins. Rachel was her grandfather's favorite, older sister Sandra her father's.
  • Poke in the Third Eye
  • The Power of Rock: Finn MacDannan combines it with Magic Music.
  • Power Trio:
  • Punny Name: Penny Royal, girl detective.
  • Photographic Memory: Rachel has perfect recall, which allows her to "see" through the illusions the Wise use to hide from Muggles.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Valerie while trying to throw off the geas. Overlaps with Deadly Nosebleed, as she passes out from blood loss soon after being found.
  • Running Gag: Siefried's flying, flaming skunk seems to be turning into one.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Siegfried punches the looking glass when Valerie is questioned under a truth spell.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Rachel, who has perfect recall, recieves a gift that prevents her memory/mind from being tampered with at all, rendering her completely immune from Obscurations—and geasses.
  • Royal Blood: Royalty has significant ties to magic.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Romanovs, apparently. Nastasia's older brother Ivan is a member of the student secret service.
  • Sailor's Ponytail: Gaius sports one.
  • Split Personality: Juma O'Malley's mother has a Superpowered Evil Side, Serena—who is The Dragon to the Big Bad.
  • Shock and Awe: Vladimir von Dread's specialty. He won a gold medal in the Magical Olympics for it.
  • Shipper on Deck: Rachel ships Prince Ivan of Magical Australia/Her sister Laurel; but over the course of the second book, stops shipping Nastasia/Vladimir Von Dread.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Lucky.
  • Super Window Jump: When Rachel can't open a window with magic and is forced to crash through it.
  • Tricked Out Time: The Raven uses this once to change something.
  • Weird Aside
  • Wham Line:
    • In Unexpected Enlightenment:
    Through the woods leading to the Infirmary, a little porcelain doll walked of its own accord, dragging the unconscious Magdalene Chase.
    • In The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel:
    "I know a twenty-first. All who hear it will remember."
  • Whip It Good: A magical whip is used offensively, with deadly results.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Nastasia.
  • Wizarding School
  • World Tree: —is located just off of the Roanoake Campus grounds.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Sigfried is a true knight, has studied the topic extensively, and will not hit girls. Even if they deserve it.
  • Villainous Vidows Peak: Dr. Mordeau.
  • Virgin Power: The Vestal Virgins must preserve the Eternal Flame.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Starkadders, princes of Magical Romania, can turn into wolves.
  • The Von Trope Family: Vladimir Von Dread, prince of Bavaria, president of the Knights of Walpurgis dueling club.
  • Vow of Celibacy: It turns out that the title character's grandmother was under vows but broke them. This has an actual negative effect due to Virgin Power, and causes something of a Broken Pedestal.
  • You Can Barely Stand
  • Your Worst Nightmare


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