A Deadly Education

I want to film a fake infomerical that’s like “Did you grow up on Harry Potter? Are you now finished with grad school, and a little grumpier than you used to be? Pick up A Deadly Education wherever books are sold.” This and the next Victoria Lee, a Lesson in Vengeance please. It’s like Harry Potter meets the Secret History but also with way more monsters constantly.

I’ve only ever read one Naomi Novik book–Spinning Silver, recently–but when I heard this was like dark, feminist, magic school, I was like “okay yes plz sign me up” and this is such a unique “magic school” boarding school because it’s basically Hell and also there are no professors and you’re basically set up to die. Oops, right? Well, enter El, short for Galadriel from the Lord of the Rings because this book is magical but also set in a mildly familiar world outside the school.  We meet El after the class golden boy has saved her life for the second time, and he’s not letting her out of her sight. The presence of Orion Lak in her life, and the way that makes others treat her, sets El on a crash course towards the end of the semester and the seniors graduation that includes a heck ton of “mals” trying to end them, a stabbing in her bedroom, a new alliance, enclave offers, new spellbooks appearing out of thin air, and El’s dreadful power is about to be put to the test.

I really enjoyed this book! It wasn’t as…schooly as I thought, maybe because of how monster-filled it was. Yes, I kept screaming at Orion and El to just make out already, but what really drove me through this book was just trying to figure out how it was going to end. I’m excited to see what happens in book 2, because we’ve still got El’s senior year, but this book basically took place over a month or two, so maybe El’s senior year will be more than just one book? It’ll definitely be interesting! The magic system is really fascinating, something new for me a non-fantasy reader, but I also liked how well Novik explained the facets of the school. Can’t wait to go back!

A Deadly Education is on sale everywhere September 29, 2020.


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