Literature / Rachel Griffin

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"Once there was a world that seemed at first glance much like other worlds you may have lived in or read about,

but it wasn't..."

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 and Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland. 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: it appears to be our world, but with magic (a la Dresden Files or Harry Potter), but it soon develops that this is a world where monotheism was a brief historical anomaly. Nonetheless, 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.
  • 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. Even the adults who had had to save the world as adolescents.
    • 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.
    • Rachel, seeking help for Magdalene, appeals not to the teachers or any other adult, but to von Dread.
  • Adult Fear: Serena O’Malley. the evil personality of Juma O’Malley’s mother, she is willing to murder friends and slaughter children—including her own son, while he’s screaming and pleading with her to wake up to her “good” self.
  • Ain't No Rule: Against having your friends hit you to get you into the infirmary.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: In the second book, Rachel finds herself feeling torn between attraction to Gaius, who fits the bill of a conventional high-school bad boy, and Vlad, who is LITERALLY DOCTOR DOOM.
  • 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.
  • Animorphism: Zoe's uncle was turned into a sea turtle once; Gaius gets turned into a shee—a ram, and Kenneth Hunt was turned into a goose.
  • 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.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: In the Knights of Walpurgis, Rachel notes that a lot of the members come from good — noble — Blue Blooded families with dicey reputations.
  • Arranged Marriage: Nastasia expects one, with perfect equanimity.
  • Awesome McCoolname: They settle on “The Die Horribly Debate Club.” The other alternatives were even worse.
  • Badass Boast: "So swears Dread!" Unfortunately, this is immediately skewered by Rachel and Sigfried, who were eavesdropping: "So swears Griffin!" "So swears Smith!"
  • Bad Dreams: Freka Starkadder has nightmares after her brothers' execution.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses
  • Baleful Polymorph: Vladimir von Dread turns Gaius Valiant into a sheep. Temporarily.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Most of the students, being of supernatural descent, are gorgeous (though some are stunningly ugly). A theory is that it's because they are often descended from gods or elves. (or trolls).
  • Betty and Veronica: No sooner than Rachel starts to date Gaius than she starts to notice how attractive Vladimir is, despite being arrogant and dictatorial.
  • 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: the princess's visions send the characters out of these to save lives.
    • In Book 3: the Raven saving Rachel and Gaius from being run down by the Wild Hunt.
    • The climax of Book 3 has a rolling series of them, as Ambrose Griffin, then the rest of the Wisecraft, then the rapid response team from Ourouboros Industries arrive to the rescue.
  • Black Magic: Thaumaturgy does not sacrifice human beings. Doing that is black magic.
  • Blood Magic: Thaumaturgy requires animal sacrifice.
  • Blood Brothers: Rachel and Sigfried swear a blood oath to each other in Book 3. Both of them take great pride in announcing their siblingship.
  • Blue Blood: Rachel's father is a duke. 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.
  • Cain and Abel: Two of the villains are part of the plot in Enlightment. Their price? that their older brother be killed.
  • The Cavalry: the Wisecraft officers in book 2.
  • 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.
  • Celestial Deadline: Moloch will arise on his feast day. First step: figure out what day that is.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Rachel’s new wand, inherited from her grandmother, contains three charges of the Eternal Flame. One of them gets used in the finale.
  • 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.
  • Children Are Innocent: It ads a particular horror to fighting animated skeletons that they are all those of babies.
  • The Chosen One: Joy and Nastasia are (perhaps) the subjects of a prophecy. Book 3 reveals that Nastasia and Sigfried are two (out of seven) Keybearers.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: People's belief that the universe is a stable, logical place is part of the Wall that protects the universe from dissolution.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Princess Nastasia believes that her father, the King of Magical Australia is quite insane. Her brother insists that she's mistaken and all their father's Caligula-ish pronunciations (making monopoly money the official currency, denouncing kookaburras as foreign spies) as merely his outrageous sense of humor.
  • Comically Missing the Point
  • Commonality Connection: Both Gaius and Rachel got to start the school a year early.
  • 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.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Nastasia's father once punished a thief by covering him in peanut butter, rolling him in birdseed, and putting him outside to feed the birds.
  • Crapsack World: Some villains justify working toward destroying the world on the grounds it's this. (Citing the abuse of children to justify their sacrificing children to end the world — and all those children's lives.)
  • Cuteness Overload: Siegfried suffers one after seeing Rachel and Nastasia dancing a jig of joy.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Raven turns out to be good, if stern.
  • The Dead Can Dance: Rachel and Gaius visit the ghosts' ball on Halloween.
  • Distressed Dude: The princess's vision showed Vladimir von Dread, Gaius Valiant, and William Locke intervening against the villains, and the Big Damn Heroes moment is to save them. Giving a very disorienting moment for Gaius when he's told of his unwitting peril — he has to collect his wits to thank Rachel.
  • 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.
  • Dreamland: Rachel and her friends spend a lot of time in one, hopping about and (both in and out of it) working out how it works.
  • Driving Question:
    • The Unexpected Enlightenment: Who or what is the Raven? What does the winged statue in the forest represent? (And for the reader: what happened to monotheism?.
    • 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?
    • Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland: What is the nature of the being the villains are trying to summon? And other details of what they are doing.
  • Dueto The Dead: Halloween is filled with death-honoring rituals. Also, Gaius tells a ghost, one of the musicians of the Titanic, about the monument raised in their honor, and he is pleased and honored by it.
  • Enemy Mine: In the princess's vision of the Saracen knights and paladins — foes in the Matter of France — standing against the threat to their world. They stand in two groups, with an ogre between them.
  • 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: The Unexpected Enlightenment takes place over the first five days of Rachel's first school year. And the series is currently planned to last until she graduates.
  • Expy: According to the author, the series is based on a Massive Multiplayer Crossover role-playing game created by her family and run by a family friend, who is given credit on the title page, and the finished story contains non-public domain characters with the "serial-numbers filed off." Hints are given by the princess's visions. Exploration of those hints and other clues currently available (as of book 2) can be found in Rachel Griffin.
    • Siegfried Smith, the famous orphan who is brand-new to the magical world, was originally based on the author's husband (John C. Wright)'s roleplaying character in the game—not on Harry Potter, as previously suggested here. Siggy is an orphan because the player min/maxed the character. The other influence for the character was Sigfried, from the Ring Cycle...a wild-man of the woods orphan who ended up with a dragon's treasure.
    • Rachel herself is a native of her world. She was created for the original game because the authoress wanted to play a character who could get into Ravenclaw, however, the moderator put her in Griffindor anyway.
    • Vladimir Von Dread is very obviously based on Victor Von Doom.
    • The List goes on and on. Seriously, it does.
  • Fainting Seer: Nastasia.
    • Xandra Black, 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.
  • Food Chains:
    • Downplayed. Conjured — and possibly dream — food vanishes twenty-four hours later, giving you cramps, and of course, not nourishing you.
    • also Illondria specifically assures Rachel that her tea will not cause a distaste for mortal food.
  • 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.
  • Generation Xerox: There are an awful lot of "John" and "Wendy" Darlings, all related to the famous original family.
    • An eavesdropped conversation between Agent Darling and his high-school son reveals that the father hopes his son will take after him in seeking out adventure, even giving him his old Tarnhelm.
  • Genius Loci: Idunn's daughter, the titular Elf of the second book.
  • Ghost Pirate: Rachel, needing treasures, is told about a pirate wreck; the ghost telling her is aware of this trope and assures her that the pirates did not fear death and so are not haunting it.
  • 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: Vladimir's strong determination to help those who need it does not mitigate his pride.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: the Raven.
  • Great Big Library of Everything: The Library of all Worlds. Rachel is assured she can found it.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend:
    • Gaius. Rachel had, after all, just met him and was rather younger at an age where a few years is significant.
    • More lightly, she tells Lucky that she won't be part of Siggy's harem, since Lucky doesn't grasp that things are different among humans.
  • Hell: One of the downsides of a demo boss is that he really can send you there.
  • 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. At least, that was what had happened after the Reality Warper was done with it. . . .
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Performing one means that your ghost will retain free will.
    • The musicians on the Titanic who went on playing to help keep calm is recounted at a significant point.
    • Despite knowing that she will die if another person finds out her identity, Illondria meets with and helps Zoe, which contributes to her death several chapters later.
  • Heroic Willpower: Valerie and Magdalene both try to fight off their geases.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Nastasia sees them threatening a world in a vision.
  • Human Sacrifice: the spell that draws people out of their own worlds requires this.
  • Hypocrite: citing child abuse as a reason to practice child sacrifice.
  • I Can Still Fight!
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most of the chapters follow the template The (adjective) (noun) of (something). Like "The Unexpected Benefits of Remembering" or "The Awkward Rescue of Valerie Foxx".
  • 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 Hunt (formerly 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.
    • In The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, Rachel produces evidence that two princes were involved with the plot that occurred in Enlightenment — for the price that the ringleader would kill their brother for them. In Dreamland, their sister mournfully wishes her father had not made her and her siblings watch something, and Siggy points out that the event probably related to her dream they saw, of a hanging. Rachel never does figure it out; the ghost of one of the executed princes tells her.
    • Rachel doesn’t know what a starship looks like, and imagines them as looking like flying galleons, instead of rockets. (She doesn’t even recognize it when Gaius draws one earlier.)
  • 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.
  • I Gave My Word: Rachel carefully manipulates one incident to avoid this, so she won't have to break it.
  • Kid Hero: Sigfried Smith, dragonslayer, is an in-universe version of this.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Nastasia sees two bands of them in one vision; since a third party calls them "paladins" and "Saracens" presumably they come from the Matter of France.
  • 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 Lady's 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.
  • Light Is Good: At one point, things are changed for the better in Dreamland by using a camera's flash.
  • 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.
  • Lunacy: Moonlight is necessary for degossamerization— making certain spells permanent.
  • Magic Mirror: Siegfried has an amulet that functions somewhat like this, allowing him to see in all directions and through walls.
    • Actual mirrors appear, having been enchanted for all sort of magic. Including as portals — Rachel points out that a descendant of Alice in Wonderland is at the school.
  • Magic Music: Nastasia uses a violin, Sigfried a trumpet. Another character uses bagpipes. One performs magic with a tuba.
    • Magical Flautist: Rachel initially uses a flute, but soon learns to simply whistle the notes to her spells.
  • Magic Versus Science: they conflict. Too much magic stops tech. Too much tech stops magic. Unusally, research is going on to overcome the limitation.
  • 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?
  • January-May Romance: Between Rachel (13, but looks younger) and Gaius (16).
  • Mind-Control Eyes
  • Motor Mouth: Sigfriend Smith.
  • Morality Chain: Mortimer Egg's family.
  • The Mourning After: Rachel is certain that if Gaius is trapped in animal form, she will never ever get over him.
  • Mysterious Past: Rachel realizes that Cassandra March, the only created person to become fully real (a process which involves being exposed to moonlight, every month of the year, for eight years), resembles her mother both physically, in stress-coping mechanisms and in their perfect recall.
  • Never Was This Universe: Lots of history differs. Until we realize a Reality Warper is on the job.
  • 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 a Game: Used by Zoe to complain of Nastasia's rigid rule-keeping; they are not playing a game of D&D and the princess is not Lawful Good.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: If you fall out of Dreamland into a foreign country, all but one of you could escape in the dreams if one of you fell asleep, but the dreamer could not, so it's not feasible.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Sterling example: Rachel knows the keyword to bind Azrael, the demon possessing Mortimer Egg. When she tries to tell her sister Sandra this, Sandra 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.
  • Offing the Offspring: Parental participation is required in the child sacrifice. There's also a king who executes two sons, admittedly for capital crimes; their sister merely wishes he hadn't made them watch.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Siggy lived in one.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The reason given in story is that ghosts fear death too much, but others seemed to bound by Unfinished Business — a wide variety of it. They also range from could pass for human were it not for the glow and the translucency, to "a collection of mist and dried leaves blowing in the shape of a woman". It appears that the more aware you are that you are dead, and the more heroic your motive to be a ghost, the more human.
  • Our Gods Are Different: Rachel and Gaius get into theological questions while researching the worship of Moloch. Since Moloch is a demon, and was worshipped as a god — what do they know about the other gods?
  • Parental Favoritism: The Griffins. Rachel was her grandfather's favorite, older sister Sandra her father's. Brother Peter is her mother's favorite.
  • Pirate Booty: Rachel is told where to find some when she needs treasure. It stems from a pirate wreck, not burial.
  • Poke in the Third Eye
  • Powered By A Beloved Child: one spell needs human sacrifice — and not only that, those offering the human must love this person enough for the spell to work. It has been successfully cast—thousands of times.
  • Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder: by book 3, Rachel is developing a nasty case of PTSD, worsened by her inability to seek help.
  • Power Glows: Spells produce glows and sparks.
  • The Power of Rock: Finn MacDannan combines it with Magic Music.
  • Power Trio:
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: When a divination game involving roasting chestnuts predicts trouble for Nastasia and Rachel, both girls are distressed, though Rachel tries to assure Nastasia it's just a game.
  • Punny Name: Penny Royal, girl detective.
  • 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.
  • Retired Monster: Book 3 reveals Magdalene Chase was formerly a lamia.
  • Running Gag: Siefried's flying, flaming skunk seems to be turning into one.
    • In Book 3, Rachel has him purposely skunk a boy who has been mean to her, and considers several strategies to keep the skunk incidents and Sigfried's reputation separate.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Siegfried punches the looking glass when Valerie is questioned under a truth spell.
  • Revealing Tic: Sandra Griffin’s tension is betrayed (to Rachel), by her pinkie finger going rigid. the Griffins share this characteristic with Cassandra March, the Grand Inquisitor’s wife..
  • 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.
  • Running Gag: Gaius was turned into a sheep—I mean, a ram.
  • Sailor's Ponytail: Gaius sports one.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: Sigfried refuses to trust what the Wise tell them. If the Wise tampered with the Unwary, they could likewise be tampered with.
  • Senseless Sacrifice:
    • In the princess's vision, Vladimir von Dread, Gaius Valiant, and William Locke break into the room where Dr. Moreau is geasing students to kill other students, but are killed almost at once.
    • In Dreamland, Gaius explains to Rachel that her idea for stopping the jet by slamming into the tail, would have required them to be traveling at space shuttle speeds to work. Only her utter ignorance of jets keeps the idea as a whole from being a Stupid Sacrifice.
  • Settle for Sibling: Inverted. When Rachel realizes that Vladimir wants to marry her sister Sandra, she switches from romantic interest herself to shipping the two of them...mostly.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: the children are told that demons are often obsessed with one, which can be an exploitable flaw.
  • Split Personality: Juma O'Malley's mother has a Superpowered Evil Side, Serena—who is The Dragon to the Big Bad.
  • 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. In the third, she learns Vladimir wants to marry her sister Sandra and ships them.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Lucky.
  • Shown Their Work: Zoe mentions that you can’t actually read in the dreamworld. This is quite true and actually used as a test by lucid dreamers.
  • Spare to the Throne: discussed — as a duke and duchess, Rachel's parents should have an heir and a spare — but have only the heir, and three "useless" girls.
  • Speak of the Devil: Rachel is interrupted in the middle of recounting the story of a demon summoning so she won't.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: Takes place on Roanoke Island
  • 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 as minimal as possible.
  • Thrill Seeker: Rachel is developing into one as a coping mechanism for the intense stresses she’s been going through during the past three books’ worth of adventures.
  • Undead Child: animated skeletons. And not merely children. Babies, those sacrificed to Moloch.
  • Unfinished Business: Ghosts seemly mostly bound by this, though fear of death is also cited as a way they are trapped.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Rachel’s point of view is limited by her age and inexperience—not to mention that there are some things she believes that she flat-out doesn’t know are wrong (such as believing herself to be 1/8th Korean when she is actualy 1/4th).
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Sigfried, entirely. Rachel is developing into one, as she believes that the occasional ruthlessness, or mild lie, can be a useful thing.
  • Unicorn: Rachel encounters one in Dreamland. It later proves to have the power to change shapes.
  • 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.
    • Book 3 reveals that it's actually the opposite: they're wolves who turned into humans.
  • 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.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Poppy seeds. How to stop hoards of animated skeletons — just sprinkle a few in their path. (Note: Poppy seeds stopping the undead is a trope from Eastern European folk tales.)
  • Weather Manipulation: use to ensure moonlight when the moon is full.
  • 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 seek to remember should cherish it."
    • In Rachel and the Many-Splendoured Dreamland:
    "Of course not. No real gods or demons are allowed in this world."
  • Whip It Good: A magical whip is used offensively, with deadly results.
  • Wizarding School: The only one in the world to teach every school of magic.
  • Woman Scorned: discussed: one character's grandmother talked about Odin as if she had been scorned by him.
  • World Tree: it's located just off of the Roanoake Campus grounds.
    • Book 3 reveals that The World Tree, Yggdrasil, was destroyed, and that the ones remaining are merely seedlings from it.
  • 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.
  • You Can Barely Stand
  • Your Worst Nightmare

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