I LOVE when a book lives up to the insane hype I have create for it it in my mind. Witchy sapphic boarding school Secret History was how A Lesson in Vengeance was pitched to me, and the day it became available for me on Netgalley, I screamed. And then I taunted myself by SAVING this ARC to read on my writer’s retreat in April. I started it right before bed the first night, and dear Lord, it was everything I imagined and MORE! A total 5 star read and I can’t wait to recommend this to everyone.
Felicity Morrow has returned to the Dalloway School for a second chance at her senior after taking time off, being institutionalized, and mourning the death of her best friend, and secret girlfriend, who everyone thinks Felicity didn’t do enough to save. She’s finally back in Godwin House, but there are 4 new residents, and one of them is literary wunderkind Ellis Haley, fresh off her Pulitzer and at Dalloway to write her second novel, about the Dalloway Witches, or so it seems. Did I mention the Dalloway School has a dark history where 5 girls of Godwin house ended up dead under spooky circumstances? Well, now you know. But as Felicity gets to know Ellis, and Ellis’ writing style, things start to get out of hand at the Dalloway School. Is it witches? All in Felicity’s head? All of the above?
I LOVED this book. When I first read The Secret History, I feel like I became my fullest self and I LOVE dark academia and boarding schools. Hell, The Private Series by Kate Brian formed like 60% of my college application process. I was reading quotes to my friend throughout, laughing and gasping, and wow, I loved it. Ellis and Felicity are such fascinating characters, the Dalloway School both seemed realized and very fantastic all at the same time, and the writing was just SPECTACULAR.
I was about 80% of the way through my ARC when I tuned into the YALLWEST Pajama Party featuring author Victoria Lee, and they said the book was basically following a question like, “What was Donna Tartt like in HS?” and I shouted because I had been telling my friend the whole time that Ellis was basically baby Donna Tartt, and I loved it.
This was comped to Ninth House a lot, but I also think it’s VERY good if you liked Catherine House as well. And The Secret History, or if you grew up on the Private novels.
I can’t wait to shout about this book from the rooftops and make everyone I know read it.
Also, while this book is YA, it doesn’t feel “too YA” in the “oh god I’m in high school again” and I think it will do well with adult audiences as well!
A Lesson in Vengeance is on sale everywhere August 3, 2021.