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Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly. A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly. A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.


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Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly. A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly. A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.

30 review for A Deadly Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Asma

    Harry Potter’s massive cultural impact means that we haven’t seen the last of magic schools set in Britain, and we probably won’t for a long while. In some ways, the fantasy genre’s response to Rowling’s work is tiresome. In others, it’s exciting—because a generation of readers and writers have grown up to bring their own perspective to the limits of Rowling’s work and push it beyond the limits of its author. However, if you’re looking for a transgressive magic academy book that interrogates the Harry Potter’s massive cultural impact means that we haven’t seen the last of magic schools set in Britain, and we probably won’t for a long while. In some ways, the fantasy genre’s response to Rowling’s work is tiresome. In others, it’s exciting—because a generation of readers and writers have grown up to bring their own perspective to the limits of Rowling’s work and push it beyond the limits of its author. However, if you’re looking for a transgressive magic academy book that interrogates the limited morality, inclusivity, and perspective of Harry Potter, you should put Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education back on the shelf and keep looking. A Deadly Education tells the story of Galadriel “El” Higgins, a half-British half-Indian sorcerer attending a magic school where the consequences of any mistake might mean sudden death. El is a loner by nature and circumstance, but walking alone in the halls of Scholomance might mean being attacked and devoured by one of the school’s monsters. This puts El on a crash course with Orion Lake, the shining hero of her year who takes it upon himself to save the lives of his fellow students, including a less-than-grateful El. The set up honestly sounds pretty good—a prickly protagonist, a heroic rival-slash-love interest, a deadly setting, and the potential for deep lore in magic and world-building. Unfortunately, not only does Novik fail to deliver on any of the premises’ strengths, she also chooses to weigh her narrative down with reductive, tone-deaf, and downright racist details. El’s particular class of magic relies on language. El speaks English and Marathi, and picks up Sanskrit, Hindi, Latin and Old English in her study of language-based spells. It’s a little uncomfortable that Novik lumps dead and defunct languages like Latin and Old English together with actively spoken ones like Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish, but that isn’t where Novik’s faux paus end. El approaches languages like computer programs to be downloaded onto her hard drive. Despite languages being the basis of her magic, she has no personal connections to the ones she’s speaking. She views other students and their languages the same way, identifying groups of students as “the Mandarin speakers”, “the Arabic speakers,” etc. Novik seems clueless about the relationships between the languages she’s building her world’s magic around, putting Sanskrit tombs in Baghdad and declaring that the Scholomance has a library aisle containing all of India’s languages. (About 800 individual languages are spoken in India, fyi.) This clinical approach to diversity extends from language into character. El doesn’t try to make many friends, and honestly it’s not hard to see her classmates don’t try to befriend her, either. She doesn’t describe her classmates as people—she describes them as assets. And while that could be explained away by the premise that half her classmates won’t make it out of school alive, and El needs allies more than friends to survive, it doesn’t make it any better when El refers to others exclusively by the language knowledge they offer her. A character named Ibrahim has no personality or backstory, but he conveniently pops up when El needs someone who knows Arabic. A character named Kaito is thoughtlessly grouped in with the Mandarin speakers. An Argentine character exclaims in Spanish when she’s excited or relieved. There’s an uncomfortable distinction between the languages that get written out in the text—Spanish, French—and the ones that get narrated away—a character exclaims in Mandarin. Novik goes out of her way to let us know that the population of Scholomance is diverse. There’s a group of South and West African students (only one of whom is named, and none of whom are important). There’s a “civilized” enclave of magicians in Toronto who value family and human life more than other groups. One character might graduate and go to Bangkok, but he’s looking to secure himself a place in Shanghai instead. Naomi Novik really knows the names of cities on at least four continents, and she’s not about to let you forget it! But aside from names, languages, and cities, Novik has given no thought to what diversity means, or who these characters are if they come from diverse backgrounds. El calls on “Mandarin-speaker,” Yi Liu, exclusively by the name Liu. Is Liu meant to be this character’s first name? Or her surname? El doesn’t call anyone else by surname, but Liu is a Chinese surname, one of the most common in the world. El’s father is a Marathi-speaker from Mumbai, but El has no personal connection to Indian culture. Her father’s family prophesied that El would be a destroyer, and other than that rejection El has nothing to say about India or half of her culture. She refers to her Indian relatives in clinical English descriptors (my father’s mother, my great-grandmother, my uncles), even though she is purportedly fluent in Marathi and should know words like Panaji, Aaji and Kaka. El says that her Indian family is from an old Hindu enclave, and yet they have djinn as servants. (Djinn aren’t a typical part of Hindu cosmology, though they are a significant part of Islamic texts.) Making El biracial seems like an afterthought, not something that affects her character in any way. It just creates some truly unfortunate optics, like when El goes on a three-paragraph description of how unnecessary she finds showers and how dirty she is at any given time. El’s father died making sure her pregnant mother (and therefore, El herself) would live, and yet El barely thinks about him. His name is mentioned once in the entire book. El complains that (presumably white) British people “assume she speaks Hindi” or call her the color of weak tea. But her Indian heritage is a veneer placed on top of a character who is otherwise just a default white protagonist. All this adds up to a character (and a world), that reads as nothing so much as colonial. El feasts on the languages of others for her own edification, power, and survival, but she doesn’t see her classmates as people, and she doesn’t see language as a living thing related to real cultures. And I’m given to believe that Naomi Novik holds the same views, what with how she throws around the word “mana” as part of her world-building without considering its roots and real-life meaning to Polynesian and Melanesian peoples. However, nothing makes the cultural tone-deafness of this book more evident than this passage: Dreadlocks are unfortunately not a great idea thanks to lockleeches, which you can probably imagine, but in case you need help, the adult spindly thing comes quietly down at night and pokes an ovipositor into any big clumps of hair, lays an egg inside, and creeps away. A little while later the leech hatches inside its comfy nest, attaches itself to your scalp almost unnoticeably, and starts very gently sucking up your blood and mana while infiltrating further. If you don’t get it out within a week or two, it usually manages to work its way inside the skull, and you’ve got a window of a few days after that before you stop being able to move. On the bright side, something else usually finishes you off quickly at that point. El’s pithy commentary about imminent death aside, I have a hard time reading anything but casual and thoughtless racism from this passage. The nefarious and deliberate myth of dreadlocks being unhygienic (and by extension, Black people being endemically dirty) is pervasive to this day. And Naomi Novik decides to include this passage in a book that has no major Black characters, in which dreadlocks never even come up in any meaningful way, just to remind us that in this magic world of hers, dreadlocks are dirty! Monster insects nest in them! The consequences are death! There was no good reason to include this passage, and all it does is draw on inaccurate and racist myths and perpetuate them into a world where anti-Black racism is never contended with. Although, I suppose, why would it? El never has need of any languages from the West or South Africans. A Deadly Education bills itself as a subversive, even feminist, response to Harry Potter. But just like J. K. Rowling, Naomi Novik is a white author who uses other cultures thoughtlessly to build her own magic world. Other cultures and peoples exist, but only to serve the aims and needs of white (or mostly white-coded) characters. Novik has no empathy, no care and apparently no ability to Google anything about the cultures she wants to draw on. And the result isn’t just insulting—it’s boring. The world-building in this book is as dry and dusty as any history written by 19th century British colonizers. Using some foreign names and making your protagonist biracial does not shield your work from racism. It does open you up to more pitfalls in depicting other peoples and cultures, if you don’t care to look out for them. It would be nice to close by saying that despite its flaws, A Deadly Education is an enjoyable book. But it isn’t. It’s just a badly-researched, emotionless story told by rote.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    ⇓ Edited to Add: On the Controversy ⇓ Since its release, this book has been accused of racism. I respect those who have been hurt and am sorry for their pain, but I want to say that—as a Middle Eastern who has also strived to be as aware of racism as possible—I personally did not find this book racist. Most of the accusations I’ve read have seemed insubstantial to me—if you view words out of context with the aim of finding something offensive, of course you will succeed. The school giving El c ⇓ Edited to Add: On the Controversy ⇓ Since its release, this book has been accused of racism. I respect those who have been hurt and am sorry for their pain, but I want to say that—as a Middle Eastern who has also strived to be as aware of racism as possible—I personally did not find this book racist. Most of the accusations I’ve read have seemed insubstantial to me—if you view words out of context with the aim of finding something offensive, of course you will succeed. The school giving El content showing death and violence, urging her to become a mass murderer, happens for all nations as a result of her dark affinity and not just an Arabic speaking country. The issue of how languages/cultures are viewed cynically by the MC (e.g. characters being called “the Arabic speaker”) is not a sign of the author’s thoughtlessness but the truth of how El—who is deeply antisocial due to the abuse she’s faced from everyone (not just some of the Indian side of her biracial family)—sees life, with people as only assets in her eyes. This does not mean Novik endorses these views; she proves her thoughtfulness by proceeding to thoroughly tackle themes of injustice and privilege. However, there is a harmful comment on dreadlocks for which Novik immediately apologised (source) admitting her mistake in adding the passage very late and after the sensitivity read, and that she’d meant to write only “locs.” It makes sense that El would, again, cynically analyse the practicality of various elaborate hairstyles in this deadly school; the problem was how dreadlocks were singled out, and Novik humbly apologised, promising to fix it and detailing how she would do better in the future. So yes I love this book and author, not least because that was one of the best and most genuine apologies I’ve read. Isn’t raising awareness the ultimate goal? What can we possibly achieve by shutting down people after one mistake? I also urge you to read the words of THIS CHINESE REVIEWER before marching into battle. Leave a comment if you’re interested in a discussion. ⇓ Actual Review ⇓ If Hogwarts was a prickly, sentient, professorless school infested with demons, and the lead was an angry, dark Queen of Sarcasm and prophesied harbinger of death, trying to study and survive....or die, you’d have this hilarious book. Do I have your attention yet? You have to ration sympathy and grief in here the way you ration your school supplies. Naomi Novik’s new series The Scholomance is, obviously, inspired by the folkloric Scholomance, a fabled school of black magic in Transylvania run by the devil. There are apparent differences, of course; in that no one runs this school except for magic, and that this deadly version of the academy is the closest young witches and wizards can come to a protected and safe environment during their vulnerable teen years, as they happen to live in a world where their magic-filled bodies are to the monsters what marshmallow crunch brownie bars dripping with chocolate are to yours truly: That is, y u m m y. Nobody gets to live or not live because they deserve it, deserving doesn’t count for a thing. With an awesome unlikeable MC (just my type), LOL-producing writing, mouthwatering world-building, YA highschool-ish vibe, and chilling, gag-causing creatures roaming the hallways, bathrooms, and all the nooks and crannies of the insubstantial and magical structure of the place (one of which nearly gave me—Queen of Being Unperturbed By Dreams and Thrilled By What Most Consider Nightmares—nightmares) this could’ve easily been an entertaining five star read, if not for the info dumps. I enjoy info dumps, I do, but some really shouldn’t have been where they were. There is something called “out of place” m’dear, especially when the reader is excited about an imminent occurrence. It’s too easy to call people evil instead of their choices, and that lets people justify making evil choices, because they convince themselves that it’s okay because they’re still good people overall, inside their own heads. I’ll just continue to appreciate the tackling of struggles rising from mixed ethnicity and not fitting anywhere, applaud the diversity that extends to even food, fall in love with the dominant theme of inequality and privilege so thoroughly explored, make puppy eyes the attention to science and technicalities, and be absorbed by the focus on carefully and creatively crafted lessons and study strategies, all while listening to my book playlist on repeat (which you can find at the end of the review) and waiting for the sequel. ⇓ Storyline ⇓ (Most) all memorable heroes have a prophecy. Well, so does El. It just so happens that hers isn’t a prophecy of saving the world blah blah, it’s one of death and destruction. Charming, right? Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, no one else thinks so. Thus our snarky little main character will have to navigate school without allies, the consequence of which would not be a lonely, dejected life, but rather death at graduation when she will have to pass through a hall of monsters to get out of the damned place without anyone watching her back. She intends to avoid that, of course, which means this dark witch needs to focus on smooth talking the politics and sitting arrangements of school life and establishing herself as a powerful addition to any interested group (much like peacocks tidying their feathers and attracting mates, one might say), while at the same time studying and surviving and making sure she doesn’t slaughter thousands to do so. Easy peasy. So I believe you realise how annoying it is for a shining hero by the name of Orion Lake to swoop in, repeatedly, and turn her into a damsel in distress. Selfish of me, you’ll say, to be contemplating with murderous intent the hero responsible for the continued survival of a quarter of our class. Well, too bad for the losers who couldn’t stay afloat without his help. We’re not meant to all survive, anyway. The school has to be fed somehow. ⇓ Storytelling ⇓ I didn’t want to actually become a maleficer and then go bursting out of this place like some monstrous butterfly hatching from a gigantic chrysalis of doom to lay waste and sow sorrow across the world as per the prophecy. A Deadly Education is my first book by Naomi Novik but can I just say that I stan her style?? Witty, humourous, and sprinkled with exactly the right amount of absurdity in her genius similes and metaphors, Novik has immediately established her herself as a new fave author of mine with her technique. I’m telling you, even the (admittedly too frequent and unflattering) info dumps were done with such a unique touch that I’m simply impressed! The banter. The hilarious moments brewed and executed so aptly. Ahhh. “I know you’re just waiting for us to put your statue up, but that’s no reason to carry on like a slab of solid rock.” The best part of the storytelling was, however, the way the author somehow threw thriller and humour in the same pot and unbelievably got a delicious unputdownable stew out of it. I mean, we would encounter a petrifying monster that had me on the verge of screaming and we are about to die and yet Naomi proceeds to kindly point you toward more books for further information. Like, WHAT. My expression was something between 😱 and 😂; upon messing around with the emojis, this is the closest I’ve gotten: ⇓ Characters ⇓ ◈ Galadriel aka El: Meet the protagonist; a powerful witch with an affinity for dark magic so deadly even minor spells can turn into catastrophes—lonely, angry, bitter, sarcastic, smart, creative, natural with incantations, and shunned by anyone and everyone. And, whadayaknow, I was never ever annoyed by her snappish ungrateful behaviour because she’s just pure tragedy and has every right to be as she is—I even urged her on if I’m being honest, and yes you now may go ahead and call me crazy yay. “You feel like it’s going to rain.” “What?” But Aadhya was already waving her hands around and elaborating. “You know that feeling when you’re a mile away from anywhere, and you didn’t take your umbrella because it was sunny when you left, and you’re in your good suede boots, and suddenly it gets dark and you can tell it’s about to start pouring buckets, and you’re like Oh great.” She nodded to herself, satisfied with her brilliant analogy. “That’s what it feels like, whenever you show up.” It’s painful to be judged before you’ve had a chance. And El, my baby, has always had the worst assumed about her because of her power and the wrongness it projects to others—even as an innocent child. And tired and full of hate, she becomes the angry bitter person everyone now rightly avoids. I understood how she wanted to be wanted for herself and didn’t care for being wanted by the many self-serving people around her. I shared her emotions and bitterness at what kept happening to her. But more than anything else, I loved her acknowledgement of her anger issues. So yes, I spent the entire book chanting go dark go dark kill them all, praying she’d end up going down the terrifying sorceress path prophecised for her. And yes, I am still praying. ⤷ I see her as Disney’s Megara ⤵ ◈ Orion Lake: Meet the love interest; initially annoying, generally unbelievable and bewildering, messy, clueless, also lonely bulldozer of a hero who is such a hero that, at some points, it stops being annoying (to me, I mean, the evil soul who can’t stand these Gryffinpuffs) and starts being hilarious and even adorable. I swear, somewhere in there I actually went “OK I like him UGH.” How I ended up loving this privileged, sheltered boy acting all gloriously good and gracious, going around killing monsters as if they are the real baddies of this unjust world...is anyone’s guess. ⤷ To me, he’s a total Hercules ⤵ ◈ Everyone Else: I think I need to stop rambling before you guys come hunt me down and kill me in the most gruesome ways you can imagine for writing and writing and writing and WRITING nonstop like a typing machine gone rouge. I’ll only say the rest were fleshed out as well and even our Mean Girl was More Than Just A Mean Girl. ⇓ Relationships ⇓ The dynamic of Gal (protagonist) and Orion (love interest) is practically Megara and Hercules from Disney’s 1997 animation. In short: So thank you, Naomi Novik, for giving me a new cute, crazy, impossible-to-handle, quietly-brewing, enemies-to-reluctant-allies-to-not-yet-lovers, promising romance with such a hilarious bond that jumps right out of the page, grabbing me by the throat with its grasping hands made of iconic banter and scenes. And thank you, for the beautifully written journey of discovering what loyalty, understanding, and acceptance in friendship feel like. See? I can keep it short, too. #yayme ⇓ Worldbuilding ⇓ This world. THIS WORLD. What can I say to encompass the massive amount of awe-inspiring information delivered in these 300+ pages? A magical moody school in the place between nowhere and everywhere that relies on belief to stay upright, so dangerous you have to check every step lest a nightmare jump out from beneath the table and eat you alive. A world with magic-eating monsters where the privileged live in protected enclaves and the rest of the rabble fend for themselves and, inevitably, die. You’re probably wondering: How in the world would an academy with no adults and teachers actually function? Why would students be crammed into a building, all as perfect bait for the hungry demons? And trust me, dear Naomi has thought of every possibility, every criticism and argument and counter-argument (like someone y’all know *winky wink*), and made impossible “I’m possible.” To be honest, I’ve never been especially fond of the teacher-student dynamic as to me it’s unnecessary in most cases—I understand that many need someone to explain what they read to them but, for me, there’s nothing I can’t learn through reading a book or being observant and practicing; in fact, I prefer not to have some teacher keep irritating me and telling me what to do. That’s why I found the professor-less school Naomi Novik has come up with to be extremely relatable and rather refreshing when every “magical school” book centres around it. In Scholomance you either study independently or with your friends’ help, or you die. Fascinating and insane, that’s the only way to put it. An Scholomance-library-sized thanks to my superhero for sending me an eARC from Edelweiss! ⇓ Companions ⇓ Book playlist: Spotify URL Books in series: ⤷ A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1) ★★★★☆ ⤷ The Last Graduate (The Scholomance, #2) ☆☆☆☆☆

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    Magical school? Instantly added to my never ending TBR!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Hogwarts meets Deadly Class’ world building with sassy, smart, humorous vibes, completely badass, snarky, grumpy, sarcastic queen as a heroine and a clueless hero walking between the lines of being irritating and hysterical. I was waiting more bloodshed, bleak, horrifying, gory premise but instead of that I got dark comedy with creative ideas, deliciously absurd twists, extremely entertaining, addictive story with a sassiest and smartest ( of course she is half Indian, half Welsh) heroine called Hogwarts meets Deadly Class’ world building with sassy, smart, humorous vibes, completely badass, snarky, grumpy, sarcastic queen as a heroine and a clueless hero walking between the lines of being irritating and hysterical. I was waiting more bloodshed, bleak, horrifying, gory premise but instead of that I got dark comedy with creative ideas, deliciously absurd twists, extremely entertaining, addictive story with a sassiest and smartest ( of course she is half Indian, half Welsh) heroine called El who slays the monsters hiding in the professor-less, creepy Scholomance, an ideal educational institution at the post-Corona world! But don’t worry she can kick all those vicious monsters’ asses, stay alive and continue to her precious education, thanks to the help of her protector Orion Lake! No more words. No more clues: Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Overall; I haven’t so much fun for a long time! I want more ASAP!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Helena of Eretz ✰

    I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. This is actually a 3.5-star rating, rounded up to 4, because Goodreads likes to be difficult. :P When I heard the pitch of “a twisted, super dark, super modern, female-led Harry Potter”, I audibly squealed in joy and thought that THIS would be my most anticipated and best read of the year. After all, this is the same author who wrote two of my favourite books, Uprooted and Spinning Silver…but that’s not what ha I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. This is actually a 3.5-star rating, rounded up to 4, because Goodreads likes to be difficult. :P When I heard the pitch of “a twisted, super dark, super modern, female-led Harry Potter”, I audibly squealed in joy and thought that THIS would be my most anticipated and best read of the year. After all, this is the same author who wrote two of my favourite books, Uprooted and Spinning Silver…but that’s not what happened. In fact, I found myself bored by a lot of the actual story. The world building was phenomenal and where this book truly shined. However, Novik threw paragraphs upon paragraphs of infodumps at the reader, continuously throughout the book (it could’ve been excused if it were only the beginning, but it wasn’t), that it seemed like so much effort went into the world building that she didn’t know what to do with all of the information. So, what could’ve be a dark and dangerous, magical tale was more of a tedious slog to get through. I’m frustrated by the sheer amount of squandered POTENTIAL. Considering this trend of YA authors transitioning to adult, Novik did the opposite by transitioning from adult to YA. I thought that this would have a university setting à la Brakebills in the The Magicians, but this was a magical high school. If I had to pitch this, I wouldn’t have used Harry Potter as a comparison. Rather, it was more like The Iron Trial meets Sorcery of Thorns. It’s a magical school with no professors – you have to teach yourself – where you have to use mana (light magic) or malia (dark magic) to channel actual magic in order to master spells. All the while, the school is crawling with monsters, picking the students off, one by one, so graduation is literally a case of fighting for survival. Galadriel (yes, named for the elf from LOTR) or El Higgins is our female anti-heroine. At first, I loved her, thinking her so funny and sassy…but then she got on my nerves. Eventually, I realised that she was abrasive, rude and mean to everyone who came across her (especially the love interest, Orion Blake, who she has literally no chemistry with). Considering how much I love Naomi Novik as an author, and how much the cliffhanger reeled me in for the sequel, I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series. However, I’m just disappointed that this wasn’t what I thought would be a definite five-star read for me. I’d still recommend Novik’s earlier works to those who are unfamiliar with her bibliography, rather than this new venture of hers. However, I will say that this will most likely appeal to fans of The Magicians and Vita Nostra. Here’s to hoping the sequel is an improvement (fingers crossed)!!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Please check out Asma's review [rest] (view spoiler)[i dnfed bc the biracial rep was making me uncomfortable, but might come back to it once other reviews are out... (hide spoiler)] Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Blog | Spotify | Twitch Please check out Asma's review [rest] (view spoiler)[i dnfed bc the biracial rep was making me uncomfortable, but might come back to it once other reviews are out... (hide spoiler)] Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Blog | Spotify | Twitch

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nataliya

    “We’re not meant to all survive, anyway. The school has to be fed somehow.” Scholomance is an isolated magical boarding school in the Void that you enter at fourteen and - maybe, possibly, if you are *very* lucky - get to leave four years later. But before you sign up, keep in mind: “Most of the time less than a quarter of the class makes it all the way through graduation.” There are no teachers but the students still study hard - it’s the only thing to do when your choices are learn eno “We’re not meant to all survive, anyway. The school has to be fed somehow.” Scholomance is an isolated magical boarding school in the Void that you enter at fourteen and - maybe, possibly, if you are *very* lucky - get to leave four years later. But before you sign up, keep in mind: “Most of the time less than a quarter of the class makes it all the way through graduation.” There are no teachers but the students still study hard - it’s the only thing to do when your choices are learn enough useful skills and maybe live or fall prey to the multitude of monsters living there (and occasionally to your own classmates). The magical world is plagued by multitudes of maleficaria - “mals” - who love going after magical kids (especially around puberty, which already sucks even without magical monster attacks) in the most gruesome ways. You are safe-ish in the wizarding enclaves, but those are exclusive, powerful and nigh-impossible to join. If you are an “independent” non-enclave wizard kid, your odds to survive are pathetic. Those odds, however, dramatically increase if they spend their adolescence educated in Scholomance because even this murderous school is still safer than the outside world: “[…] If you’re an indie kid who doesn’t get into the Scholomance, these days your odds of making it to the far side of puberty are one in twenty. One in four is plenty decent odds compared to that.” Except even in the school the students are certainly NOT on equal footing. The enclave kids are the privileged crowd, with 80% chance of surviving through graduation, with their strong position, shared stories of magic, protection shields and the ability to get the non-enclave kids scrambling to do anything for them and serve as cannon-fodder for the merest promise of joining an alliance that may get them alive during the graduation slaughter (the mals descend on the trapped students each graduation day, and only half of those who already have survived four brutal years of constant danger lurking everywhere manage to escape the monsters feeding frenzy) and for the slightest chance of invitation to join the coveted safety of an enclave post-graduation. The indie kids know they are meant to be cannon fodder so that the elite can go on being elite, but the alternative seems even bleaker and there seems little you can do to upset the bloody status quo. “When the enclaves first built the Scholomance, the induction spell didn’t pull in kids from outside the enclaves. The enclavers made it sound like a grand act of generosity when they changed it to bring us all in, but of course it was never that. We’re cannon fodder, and human shields, and useful new blood, and minions, and janitors and maids, and thanks to all the work the losers in here do trying to get into an alliance and an enclave after, the enclave kids get extra sleep and extra food and extra help, more than if it was only them in here. And we all get the illusion of a chance. But the only chance they’re really giving us is the chance to be useful to them.” Galadriel (“El”) Higgins, named so by her whimsical commune-dwelling witch mother, has the potential to be probably the most powerful student at the school, but she chooses to hold back because following her powers will certainly make a maleficer, one who feeds off the life energy of others and is destined for gruesome end. She is supposedly born evil, a future dark sorceress whose magical affinity is “laying waste to multitudes”, who is sought out by evil spells and cannot even dip a toe in the dark magic before it becomes irreversible for her. “Some sorcerers get an affinity for weather magic, or transformation spells, or fantastic combat magics like dear Orion. I got an affinity for mass destruction.” She is an enclave-less loner outcast in school, with people staying away from her because they subconsciously sense her evil potential, holding her powers back to prevent death and destruction, and pragmatically planning and plotting possible ways to survive day-to-day life and - hopefully - the graduation day slaughter, only a year away. All while narrating this story to us in the snarkiest, prickliest, most sarcastic voice that grew on me quicker than I expected: “That might sound extreme, but it’s not explicitly a spell to conjure mortal flame, it’s a sliding-scale spell to conjure magical fire. Most people love those spells, because virtually anyone can cast them successfully and you just get different results depending on your affinity and how much mana you put into it. Even if you’re a fumbling child, you can use it to light a match, and get better at casting it. Or if you’re me, you can suck the life force out of a dozen kids and then incinerate half the school with you inside it. So helpful!” Unexpectedly even to herself, El slowly builds tentative friendships with a few of her classmates - including an enclave kid, irritatingly heroic (sometimes stupidly and recklessly so) and very well-connected Orion Lake, whose actions to save too many kids from otherwise sure destruction by monsters (remember - at Scholomance death of students is a feature, not a bug) have upset the delicate balance in this bloody environment. And things are getting dangerous even by Scholomance standards. I started this book a bit skeptical - about the magical school setting, the snarky heroine, the generous helping of exposition in the first few chapters - and then I realized that I loved it all, exposition and school history included, and was feverishly reading on, enjoying the strange deadly setting and survival strategies and even the inevitable softening of a few rough edges of our prickly unwilling dark sorceress in the making. In a school like that, I would have been monster snack in week one, so watching El navigate this life while making Orion see some sense, learning to work on friendship and kindness, and kicking some monster ass was so much fun. “Breakfast isn’t half as dangerous as dinner, but it’s still never good to walk alone.” The setting itself is fascinating. A self-regulating living organism of the school with the self-regulated life and education, a cross between a prison and a safe-ish (ok, deadly) haven, a deadly magical boot camp that is still full of adolescent politics and the uneven power play between those in power and those who can only dream of it is a fun place to read about (but certainly not to visit unless you’re ready for the monsters to pick bits of you out of their teeth.) “I hate this school more than anyplace in the entire world, not least because every once in a while, you get forcibly reminded that the place was built by geniuses who were trying to save the lives of their own children, and you’re unspeakably lucky to be here being protected by their work. Even if you’ve been allowed in only as another useful cog.” It’s fun, suspenseful, sharp and just snarky enough to entertain but not to grate too much on the adult mind. (The snark does gets toned down a bit as El softens her sharp edges just a tad). It starts very much YA but throughout the story moves into more adult territory so organically that you notice it almost in retrospect, and even graying heads can enjoy it, honestly. It’s excellent at showing very plausible struggles and anxieties of a young person in a quite implausible world and situations. It’s a magic school story with sharp menacing teeth, and I loved that. “I’d got used to my ordinary level of low-grade bitterness and misery, to putting my head down and soldiering on. Being happy threw me off almost as much as being enraged.” It shines not only in its setting but the characters as well. The supporting characters are wonderfully drawn and nuanced - Aadhya, Liu, Chloe, Orion - they started feeling real to me. The friendships - first tentative, then real - were portrayed with skill and heart. And the dreaded romance angle was almost sidestepped, for which I’m immensely grateful. (Side note: it’s nice to note discussion of avoiding teen pregnancy and IUD in a book about adolescents). And the classism and social privilege criticism part was a part of the actual story as opposed to shoehorned preachiness that we can see from less skillful writers who try to stay “current”. Not Novik - she addresses it well and makes it a logical story thread, and I loved that as well. 4 stars. “I love having existential crises at bedtime, it’s so restful.”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hamad

    This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Actual Rating: 2.5 stars I just went through some reviews before starting this reviews and I am seeing a lot of “I am a big Naomi Novik fan but this was not for me/ DNFed/ not as good as her other books”. Personally, I preferred this over Uprooted and Spinning Silver but I still am giving it 2.5 stars. The book has been the center of a recent drama while I was reading it this week and I will touch upon that in this review a bit. My biggest problem with No This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Actual Rating: 2.5 stars I just went through some reviews before starting this reviews and I am seeing a lot of “I am a big Naomi Novik fan but this was not for me/ DNFed/ not as good as her other books”. Personally, I preferred this over Uprooted and Spinning Silver but I still am giving it 2.5 stars. The book has been the center of a recent drama while I was reading it this week and I will touch upon that in this review a bit. My biggest problem with Novik’s novel is the writing, I just think her prose is very over descriptive, boring and suffocating. It needs effort to go through her books which makes reading them more of a chore which means an instant DNF for me these days. This novel had a better writing and I decided to give the author a 3rd chance -Which I never do- because my bookish friends insisted that it sounds good and that her books are fun to read. The book does sound good and it has a very intriguing synopsis but I think we have very mediocre/ weak execution here which I find surprising for an author who has been doing this for years. The book basically revolves around a magical school where students go to study without teachers and learn to protect themselves from all kind of creatures that want to kill them. I am not gonna compare this to HP because not every magical school novel should be automatically compared to HP and because Rowling does not have the copyrights for this kind of stories and there have been magical schools and will always be in stories. But what I am gonna say is that I am a big fan of the school trope and that’s the main reason I decided to give this a chance. This year I have read some great magical school books -not intentionally- including The Name of the Wind, Ink and Bone, Master of Sorrows. I even recently finished Once and Future Witches which does not have a magical school but has plenty of magic. This was very meh compared to that for many reasons including characterization, plot, and world-building as I am explaining next. “You know, it’s almost impressive,” he said after a moment, sounding less wobbly. “You’re nearly dead and you’re still the rudest person I’ve ever met. You’re welcome again, by the way.” Our main character Galadriel or El (I am gonna use El in the rest of this review) is a very unlikable character and I have always said that some people are rude and unlikable in real life so I can expect to see them in stories. The problem with El is that she insists on being rude and unlikable throughout the story, characters deserve to grow hrough the story and maybe if she was improving then that would have redeemed her as slightly more likable but hell no, she thinks she is so special and she keeps talking about her super dark powers but it is all talk. And speaking of talking, I think this books suffer from telling rather than showing and this is not exclusive to the characters but also world-building. The rest of the characters are flat too so I know I will have forgotten everyone comes next weekend. The controversy surrounding the book was mostly about the characters and how the represnetation is bad and hurtful for some readers. I think people exaggerated and I did not feel much about the characters anyway because as I said above they were flat. This is very subjective and I am someone who hardly is offended by this kind of things so I can’t say that I found it offending. At the same time, different readers process books differenlty and to each their own, if you think this is racist/ has microaggressions or is not for youu then please saty away from it. “Or if you’re me, you can suck the life force out of a dozen kids and then incinerate half the school with you inside it. So helpful!” Here is El telling us about how powerful she is again. Yet the whole time I was reading this, I wish that I felt that. Whenever she was in trouble, she would get confused and nervous, cast a spell that apparently does nothing at first and then the monster suddenly dies! This telling extends to the spells which is supposed to be the exciting part of the book, but the whole professor-less thing did not work out very well because classes and the teacher-student dynamic are very important in this type of stories and it was absent here. I still don’t understand what is the point of the school then and although it was explained a couple of times in the story, I was not convinced. Here is an explanation of a spell and I don’t know why a one or two words incantation is not enough these days! “Clarita’s shield spell was fundamentally designed to be cast by multiple people, to cover a group. It wove between English and Spanish, and read almost like a song, or a play with different roles for each caster: there were lines and verses that we could cast either solo or together, chaining them together one after another, so we could all take a breather now and then, and the lines weren’t even nailed down-” At the beginning I think the book had potential but the more I read, the more problems I could spot and the less excited I was. At the end I was reading and skimming because I reached the place where I just wanted to finish. The book did end up in a cliffhanger and I want to know what happens but I think I will ask one of my friends to spoil it for me because I won’t be continuing this series unfortunately. Summary: A story with a good potential but bad execution. The characters were flat, there was a lot of telling rather than showing and I kind of lost interest toward the end of the book. If you are a Novik fan then definitely read this but if you are not like me, then this won’t change much. You can get more books from Book Depository

  9. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    3.75 stars Before I outline my thoughts on this book, if you’ve missed it, please read some reviews from BIPOC reviewers in response to some of the missteps about race in this book. I read reviews from both sides before deciding to proceed with reading it myself as planned. My review will not speak on any of the accusations against this book, as it is not my place to say whether something is harmful to a marginalized group that I am not a part of. Based on what I read from reviewers, the misstep 3.75 stars Before I outline my thoughts on this book, if you’ve missed it, please read some reviews from BIPOC reviewers in response to some of the missteps about race in this book. I read reviews from both sides before deciding to proceed with reading it myself as planned. My review will not speak on any of the accusations against this book, as it is not my place to say whether something is harmful to a marginalized group that I am not a part of. Based on what I read from reviewers, the missteps in this book seem to be largely subjective as there is a context to the world building for a lot of lines that can appear problematic when taken out of context (which is true of nearly any piece of media). Please read reviews, as there are many very detailed ones outlining each piece of the discussion, and decide how you wish to proceed. Here are two very detailed reviews from both sides but there are many more out there: https://nusantaranaga.wordpress.com/2... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... This is our House Salt Book Club pick for the month so we will be discussing not only the book but all the controversy around it on my channel on Halloween! Now… onto the actual review: This book takes place in a magical school that is actively trying to kill its students. I say school but it’s more like a 4 year independent-study program as there are no teachers and the school is CHAOTIC. The school has monsters of all kinds of varieties (monsters that live in the bathroom and prevent the students from being able to safely shower, things that creep under their doors at night so they have to set magical trip wires, monsters that hide in their food, and any other variety of ways to be killed suddenly). Our main character is an outcast who begrudgingly ends up spending more time around the “school hero” who has managed to save her life numerous times, and we follow her during Junior year. The best part of the book really is the world building. It’s incredibly atmospheric with all the monsters, the school set in a literal magical void, and with the way the school operates. You as a reader truly get a sense of how stressful it would be. This is also one of those magic systems (similar to Name of the Wind) where magic is actually pretty difficult and you get a feeling about how hard it is to learn and survive. As far as the characters, it did take some time for me to warm up to them. El did grow on me pretty quickly as a grumpy protagonist, but as she is an outsider for most of the book, we don’t get a sense of some of the other characters personality wise until almost the end of this first book. But what we have seen so far is promising, especially as far as friendship dynamics go, so I am intrigued for what this set up. Speaking of set up, this is largely a foundational book as most books in fantasy series are. This is mostly an introduction to the setting and how magic works, with some character backgrounds and dynamics that will obviously be built on throughout the series. It’s a quick and engaging read, as you are left constantly wondering how the school is going to try to kill them next. I will likely continue on with this series.

  10. 5 out of 5

    sarah xoxo

    dark academia + magic + monsters = a deadly education Naomi Novik takes the overdone concept of a magic school and refreshes it with darkness, a diverse cast and unique world building. If you are looking for a book to serve all the Slytherin vibes- complete with an unlikeable mc and twisting political alliances- look no further. The school in a deadly education is truly what the title suggests- deadly. When there are monsters lurking around every corner, you need to be 10 steps ahead at all time dark academia + magic + monsters = a deadly education Naomi Novik takes the overdone concept of a magic school and refreshes it with darkness, a diverse cast and unique world building. If you are looking for a book to serve all the Slytherin vibes- complete with an unlikeable mc and twisting political alliances- look no further. The school in a deadly education is truly what the title suggests- deadly. When there are monsters lurking around every corner, you need to be 10 steps ahead at all times. How are you going to get to breakfast? Who are you going to sit with? Navigating the complicated social hierarchy of high school suddenly becomes a matter of literal life or death. As a result, there is a vague undercurrent of anxiety and foreboding through the whole book, which both unsettled me and forced me to keep reading. My favourite part of this book was undoubtably the world building. A common complaint I have heard is of the often unnecessary info-dumps. I didn't mind them, because the world Novik has created is so intricate and calculated that I loved learning more about it. I also didn't mind because I liked the voice of our main character with her sarcasm and dry humour. If you enjoyed the footnotes in Nevernight, I think you have a greater chance of liking them, and probably vice-versa. However, while I liked learning about the world and the concepts explored, I didn't feel that spark that makes me invested in the story. I was overall left feeling lukewarm about the characters, plot and writing. There was nothing done wrong per se, but nothing I felt to be outstanding either. I also felt it to be a little juvenile at times. I am not sure if it is the marketing or my own misplaced expectations, but I thought this would fall more on the adult fantasy side. Instead, the inner monologues felt almost silly at times. For a school full of students whose only options are to graduate or die, I felt like they weren't as mature as I would expect and instead were overly fixated on frivolous and petty ideas. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just a side effect of it being a slightly different age range than I had hoped. I am pretty sure that this issue won't be present in Spinning Silver or Uprooted, both adult as far as I am aware, so now I am even more excited to try them! I have a feeling that this will be a very divisive and polarising book, but I found myself falling towards the middle in terms of enjoyment. I definitely had more positive feelings than otherwise, and so I am looking forward to seeing how the story progresses in the rest of the series. I would hesitantly recommend it, but only to specific people as I can definitely see how this wouldn't work for some. If you have read this, I would be really interested to see what you thought of it! ★★★☆☆.5 stars Thank you to Random House UK for this ARC! Release Date: 29 September 2020

  11. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Couldn't resist doing a Video Review for this dangerously good book!! Couldn't resist doing a Video Review for this dangerously good book!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    myo 🍒 (myonna reads)

    Omg i had so much fun reading this! I mean, of course i did. it’s dark academia. I enjoyed this world so much. This book in particular did have a lot of world building but i didn’t mind because there were so many things i found cool. For Example the moving stairs you couldn’t be on after classes because you don’t know where you’ll end up or the fact that you can’t be in your room after curfew. Also, these kids were crazy as hell and literally was trying to kill the main character El. I know a lo Omg i had so much fun reading this! I mean, of course i did. it’s dark academia. I enjoyed this world so much. This book in particular did have a lot of world building but i didn’t mind because there were so many things i found cool. For Example the moving stairs you couldn’t be on after classes because you don’t know where you’ll end up or the fact that you can’t be in your room after curfew. Also, these kids were crazy as hell and literally was trying to kill the main character El. I know a lot of people don’t like El but i personally loved her. I feel like i really understand her and maybe that’s because i see myself in her? She’s so stubborn and i love the fact that she was a boss bitch. She was so smart and came up with things i probably would’ve never thought of. I really loved the romance as well. Orion is such an interesting character and the fact that he was always saving El was so funny to me. Their romance kind of gave off grumpy x sunshine vibes. El being the grumpy and Orion being the sunshine. He was such a golden boy but the fact that they understood each other and related to each other was so sweet. I also really enjoyed the writing. I need to check out some of Novik’s other books because the writing in this one was so amazing. This book was so great and i honestly can’t wait until the next book. Especially after that ending? i need the second book like yesterday!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]

    ARC provided in exchange for an honest review - thank you! OH MY GOD this book is bloody GENIUS. I've never been one of Novik's more rabid fans. I thought Uprooted was okay, and I actively dislike Spinning Silver. But this book blows them both of out of the water. It's smart, wicked, dark, and thrilling. Sixteen-year-old Galadriel 'El' Higgins is a sorceress. Like other magic wielders, at the age of fourteen she was bussed into the Scholomance, a magical school without any teachers or a ARC provided in exchange for an honest review - thank you! OH MY GOD this book is bloody GENIUS. I've never been one of Novik's more rabid fans. I thought Uprooted was okay, and I actively dislike Spinning Silver. But this book blows them both of out of the water. It's smart, wicked, dark, and thrilling. Sixteen-year-old Galadriel 'El' Higgins is a sorceress. Like other magic wielders, at the age of fourteen she was bussed into the Scholomance, a magical school without any teachers or authority figures whatsoever. She hasn't left since. The only way a student leaves school is by graduating, and that involves a frantic race for life through a horde of ravening monsters. Only about half a senior class ever make it. These monsters - maleficaria, or 'mals' - are absolutely everywhere, and they love nothing better than consuming sorcerers. True, the school is infested with mals, but students still come to the Scholomance because your chances of survival are even worse if you pass through puberty on the outside. Every day, El wakes up, tries desperately to find someone who'll let her walk to breakfast or the bathroom with them, and then settles down to learning all the things you need to get out of the Scholomance alive. (In case you're wondering how this school works without teachers, Novik does a great job of explaining. Basically, you do the work, or you die).  El is half Indian and half Welsh, but she doesn't fit in for more reasons than just her mixed ethnicity. She's a dark sorceress: she was born with an affinity for death and destruction magic, which she has to be very careful to keep herself from using. It would be far too easy for her to destroy the Scholomance - and everyone inside it. So, no matter how much she's ostracised for the weird vibes people get off her, and her abrasive personality, she keeps a tight lid on her self-control.   Orion Lake is pretty much at the other end of the social spectrum from El. He's a wealthy New Yorker with access to almost limitless magic, and as if that wasn't bad enough, he has a hero complex. He's saved hundreds of students from mals... and she's one of them. She can't stand that. But he needs someone to save him from himself, and that someone looks like it might have to be El.  I don't think there's anything about this book I didn't LOVE. ✔️ El's character is perfect. She's prickly and snarky, because she's been hurt so much, but she's loyal, smart, and incredibly relatable. Her development over the course of the book - from furious loner to someone who lets Orion in, and realises that maybe she's garnering real friends too - is beautiful to behold. Oh, and also, she's hilarious.  ✔️ The worldbuilding is brilliant. It's clear Novik put an insane amount of thought into this series, and it really shows. I guess you might call some paragraphs infodumping, but I was so fascinated by this whole concept that I absorbed all of it greedily. Nothing seemed too much for me. I just wanted to know more about the whole world Novik has created here. The Scholomance is described exactly as I'd imagine it, and I'm so glad she's done justice to it. ✔️ The romance is just right. It's barely even a romance, just the lightest touch of one, but it's set up very well for the next book. Orion is such a great character. ✔️ I love the diversity. The Scholomance is very multicultural, taking in literally all the magical students from around the world. This is incorporated into the book without feeling like we're being beaten over the head with it.  Overall Go read the damn book. I've been purposely vague on the plot, because this is something where you really will derive maximum enjoyment form going in blind.  [Blog] - [Bookstagram]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Yesterday, I started writing this book's review: I enjoyed this book more than I expected. I have read Uprooted and loved it (back when it was still cool to like this book), I found Spinning Silver okay and dnf the first Temeraire book, in fact, it was my only dnf this year (I was so bored but I loved the dragon). So I thought maybe my taste changed across the years and Naomi’s books aren’t for me anymore. Glad I was wrong. *throws it in the bin* I originally gave this book 4 stars. I did not writ Yesterday, I started writing this book's review: I enjoyed this book more than I expected. I have read Uprooted and loved it (back when it was still cool to like this book), I found Spinning Silver okay and dnf the first Temeraire book, in fact, it was my only dnf this year (I was so bored but I loved the dragon). So I thought maybe my taste changed across the years and Naomi’s books aren’t for me anymore. Glad I was wrong. *throws it in the bin* I originally gave this book 4 stars. I did not write a review right away because I knew Naomi received lots of criticism claiming she was being racist in this book. I wanted to review people’s notes to be able to judge for myself because sometimes -let’s face it, the black witch- reviews are partially unfair. But then I read this now (somehow while reading the book I skipped this sentence was probably distracted or so) “Predictably, an Arabic worksheet appeared on my desk the instant I sat down that morning. There wasn’t a single word of English on it; the school didn’t even give me a dictionary. And judging by the cheery cartoonish illustrations next to the lines—most notably a man in a car about to mow down a couple of hapless pedestrians—I had the strong suspicion that it was modern Arabic, too. I should’ve got a book on Classical Arabic out of the library before going to class.” Her apology on twitter is not enough. God, I’m so done. I’m so so so fed up with people claiming Arabic speakers are terrorists. We lived in fucking fear from Al Qaeda and ISIS. WHO BTW HAD RECRUITS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD INCLUDING UK AUSTRALIA CANADA. AND HEY? LET'S NOT START TALKING ABOUT WHO FINANCED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. You don't actually think they bought all these arms from their money, right? right. So yeah I’m feeling quite mad right now. Someone said bismillah during one of the videos of the Beirut blast and western people started thinking it was a terrorist attack while the guy simply meant in God’s name (this expression basically means omg). Please educate yourselves. We are disgusted by those terrorists who killed more of us, people living in the Middle East, than abroad. I wanted to praise this book. I was ready to and was even thinking of defending Naomi (the irony), it was fun although it had one of the worst info dump I’ve read in a very long time. But I had enjoyed reading it, I liked the characters. I wanted to read the next book ASAP. It also ended on a high note, not a cliffhanger but enough to want me to read the sequel. I don’t know what to think now. I’m very heartbroken. One would think by now I should be used to western views of us, those living in the Middle East. We speak Arabic so we must be terrorists. They know shit about us. But no, they want to be smart about it. Unacceptable really.

  15. 4 out of 5

    NReads

    Sabrina Spellman?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)

    Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. Set in a school that is quite literally a death trap, this book proved to be a super interesting concept where teenagers deal with not just your standard levels of social hierarchy, but the most intense kind, with monsters and magic thrown in the mix. Of course, our main character seems to be a siphon for destruction, and mere survival is a challenge of restraint for her. Add in the difficulties of friendships and schoolwork, a Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. Set in a school that is quite literally a death trap, this book proved to be a super interesting concept where teenagers deal with not just your standard levels of social hierarchy, but the most intense kind, with monsters and magic thrown in the mix. Of course, our main character seems to be a siphon for destruction, and mere survival is a challenge of restraint for her. Add in the difficulties of friendships and schoolwork, and you have yourself a fun read about the most chaotic teenage life. As dark as this book sounds with all its claims of monsters and destruction, it is the word "fun" I keep coming back to. This book is categorised as adult here in the UK, which honestly baffles me a tad. If you take out the few instances of swearing, this book really does read on the younger side of Young Adult/Teen fiction. Which isn't a criticism in itself - just something to note. That being said, I really did struggle with imagining these characters because their voices just didn't align smoothly. One minute our main character would be hurling rude insults around, the next, she would say something that immediately had the voice of a 14 year old. It was slightly jarring, and I had to keep reminding myself what year of school she was in just to be able to conjure up an image of her in my head. It's worth noting too that this is entirely different to Naomi Novik's usual writing style. Novik attempts a teenage, slightly angsty "I-don't-care-about-anything" voice on our main character, throwing around lots of "Etcetera etceteras" to show just how much she didn't care to explain. I have to admit, I didn't love it. I'm much more of a fan of Novik's adult folkloric fantasy. That being said, it was engaging to read and still had the charm I expected from Novik. Despite to caring all too much for the characters, I had my moments of emotion when reading the backstory scenes, or when everything about our main characters defensive attitude suddenly made sense. It takes a lot, to invoke that kind of emotion and understanding in a reader, and yet Novik manages it every time. The world building - or rather, school building - was by far the most intriguing part of the book. Granted, we were given quite the disjointed info-dump at the beginning about how it worked, but it doesn't take too long to just go along with it. The school was another character in and of itself, almost a sentient being that would adapt to whatever was happening in the book. Not only that, but the sense of danger surrounding every corner of this book...oof did I feel the intensity. I didn't even begin to fathom the level of alertness needed to survive in this school until Naomi Novik laid it all out on a plate to me. Assessing which table to sit at while eating lunch, how to shower, walking down corridors - even deadlines somehow became more scary. Novik really did think everything through, and it was a wonder to read. That being said, this did end up being a middling book for me. I love the concept, the world, the social systems and magic. But the writing was just...not for me. I had too many niggling issues with the book to be able to fully sink into the story. Which is such a shame! I had high expectations going into this one, after my love for Uprooted. Still, it was a fun one to read and give a go, and I'm more than eager to give the rest of her books a read if I haven't already.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    This sounds like a cross between The Scholomance and Vita Nostra Close up shot of me crying bc I still don't have a copy. NO JOKE, I HAVE NEVER WANTED A BOOK AS BADLY AS I WANT THIS. My lazy ass even wrote into the publisher to beg for a copy and got a form letter rejection RIP hopes ;~; This sounds like a cross between The Scholomance and Vita Nostra Close up shot of me crying bc I still don't have a copy. NO JOKE, I HAVE NEVER WANTED A BOOK AS BADLY AS I WANT THIS. My lazy ass even wrote into the publisher to beg for a copy and got a form letter rejection RIP hopes ;~;

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    Well, one of my most highly anticipated 2020 releases is officially now my most disappointing read of the year so far *cue sad violin music* This book had so much potential and yet it missed every mark for me. The story itself could have been something really great but, for me, it was let down in all aspects by the writing and execution. The characters all fell flat and despite a large cast, the MC was the only character with any defining characteristics. The relationships were subpar and pretty Well, one of my most highly anticipated 2020 releases is officially now my most disappointing read of the year so far *cue sad violin music* This book had so much potential and yet it missed every mark for me. The story itself could have been something really great but, for me, it was let down in all aspects by the writing and execution. The characters all fell flat and despite a large cast, the MC was the only character with any defining characteristics. The relationships were subpar and pretty much non-existent and whilst the world building and magic system were interesting, they both felt pretty lacklustre. However, what let it down the most for me was the writing itself. The sentence structure and grammar throughout just felt... off? I don’t know how else to describe it. It felt messy and as though it was yet to go through an editor. This may totally be on me but I didn’t get on with it at all unfortunately. Overall, whilst I have a feeling I may be in the minority for this (maybe myself and novik’s writing style don’t mix and that’s okay?) I sadly found this book to be dull and disappointing (it kills me to say this.) I was so close to DNF’ing almost every time I picked it up but because I’d been so looking forward to it, I was desperate to like it and unable to give up on it changing my mind. That being said, I’m sure this is going to be a fabulous reading experience for many people but it very much wasn’t for me unfortunately.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    I'm sold! After Uprooted and especially Spinning Silver, I'll read pretty much anything by Naomi Novik.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna *Bran. San. Stan*

    Read if you want: ➡️ an entertaining magical high school experience ➡️ with a dystopian feel (as the students have to fight for their survival Hunger Games-style), ➡️ set in mean Hogwarts ➡️ with Shadowhunter-esque demons (mals) ➡️ featuring a pretty amazing, sarcastic heroine (no-one-likes-me-because-I-give-off-evil-vibes-hence-I-try-to-alienate-everyone-even-further Galadriel aka El) ➡️ and her beautifully developed friendship with the proverbial hero (I-just want-to-kill-mals-I don’t-want-your Read if you want: ➡️ an entertaining magical high school experience ➡️ with a dystopian feel (as the students have to fight for their survival Hunger Games-style), ➡️ set in mean Hogwarts ➡️ with Shadowhunter-esque demons (mals) ➡️ featuring a pretty amazing, sarcastic heroine (no-one-likes-me-because-I-give-off-evil-vibes-hence-I-try-to-alienate-everyone-even-further Galadriel aka El) ➡️ and her beautifully developed friendship with the proverbial hero (I-just want-to-kill-mals-I don’t-want-your-adoration Orion) ➡️ books you have to treat lovingly so they don’t abandon you Among the things I didn’t exactly love: ➡️ the teenage-girl back and forth between Orion and El at the end – but it is YA so I concede I should have seen it coming (to be fair, there is zero romance in the air before that) ➡️ regular humans (mundanes) having to believe in monsters in order for said monsters being able to eat them?? In short, while I enjoyed myself reading this and actually finished it in one sitting, it didn’t stick with me and consume me afterwards as, say, Harry Potter and, to a lesser degree, Hunger Games, and Shadowhunter novels have. (And it is further a possibility that I’ve lately been spoiled by Brandon Sanderson, the literary god/genius, so my expectations are higher.) Still, it is absolutely worth your time if you liked the series mentioned above and I will definitely be reading Scholomance #2. 3.75 stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    One of my very favorite books of the whole year.

  22. 4 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    representation: Half-Indian MC, side characters from all around the world (although apparently the rep is terrible so I would check out some own voices reviews!) [trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers] DNF pg. 120 ★★ I just could not get through this book for the life of me and I'm upsetti spaghetti about it. It started off so strong too and I thought for sure this was going to be one of my new favourite books! But as we got further and further into the representation: Half-Indian MC, side characters from all around the world (although apparently the rep is terrible so I would check out some own voices reviews!) [trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers] DNF pg. 120 ★★ I just could not get through this book for the life of me and I'm upsetti spaghetti about it. It started off so strong too and I thought for sure this was going to be one of my new favourite books! But as we got further and further into the book, it was just exposition, exposition and more exposition. It was clear the author had created this awesome world with all of these intricate details, but instead of letting the readers learn these details along the way, for some reason she thought it would be nice to stop mid-scene just to tell us 10,000 facts about the world and it just completely bogged down the story. So unfortunately, what could have been an epic fantastical, deadly school fun time turned into a giant snoozefest that lacked direction because of the constant info-dumping. trigger warnings (first 120 pages only): death of a parent (in the past), violence, murder, stabbing. Thank you to Del Rey for the review copy!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becca & The Books

    Usually when I rate a book 3 stars it's either because I liked it but didn't think it was anything special, or I'm super ambivalent about it. Neither of these are the case for A Deadly Education. I adored and despised this book in equal measure. I loved the character of El. She's snarky, defensive and downright hostile and I swear I've never related to a character more. The way she is just so done with The Scholomance and all of the obstacles it throws in her path were hilarious to read. Orion is t Usually when I rate a book 3 stars it's either because I liked it but didn't think it was anything special, or I'm super ambivalent about it. Neither of these are the case for A Deadly Education. I adored and despised this book in equal measure. I loved the character of El. She's snarky, defensive and downright hostile and I swear I've never related to a character more. The way she is just so done with The Scholomance and all of the obstacles it throws in her path were hilarious to read. Orion is the floppy eared, dumb af puppy you can't help but love, and I also enjoyed the supporting cast in this book. The writing came through at points, making me laugh out loud "Reader, I ran the fuck away." being one of my favourite quotes. I hated the endless amounts of exposition. They were distracting and unnecessarily complex. While I love me some world-building and don't mind an info dump, I found the frequency at which random chunks of information was given to the reader to be very distracting, and so often that I wasn't actually getting the points Naomi Novik was trying to make as it was all just a bit too much. The lengthy nature of these info dumps often meant that I was distracted from the story and couldn't remember what was going on by the time we actually got back to the main narrative. They were also told in a conversational manner, like El was halting the story to impart information to the reader and as a personal preference, I'm not a big fan of that kind of storytelling. That being said, this book ended on a massive "Oh Shit" moment so I can't wait to continue the series.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book is exactly as perfect as you want it to be after devouring Spinning Silver and Uprooted. The worldbuilding is IMPECCABLE, coming on like a freight train and never stopping yet so crisply, vividly done you never get lost. I read it in the early days of quarantine when my brain was alphabet soup and anxiety and it was the only thing that got its hooks into my head. I'm not sure how many more ways I can say, "YOU NEED THIS YOU NEED THIS EVERYONE NEEDS THIS."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller

    [4.5/5 stars] I wasn’t sure about A Deadly Education at first, but it soon shaped itself into one of my top reads of 2020. I loved the setting (Scholomance – the place gifted teenagers go to learn how to survive against magic-seeking monsters). Of all the magical schools I’ve read about (pretty much everything I can get my hands on… it’s an auto-add subject), this is one of the most unique. There are no teachers. And really there are no rules. But the stakes are deadly, which is the only way I th [4.5/5 stars] I wasn’t sure about A Deadly Education at first, but it soon shaped itself into one of my top reads of 2020. I loved the setting (Scholomance – the place gifted teenagers go to learn how to survive against magic-seeking monsters). Of all the magical schools I’ve read about (pretty much everything I can get my hands on… it’s an auto-add subject), this is one of the most unique. There are no teachers. And really there are no rules. But the stakes are deadly, which is the only way I think a place like this works. Teens need the ultimate incentive to do well in school and make good connections. If they don’t, they die. Even the ones who work hard and play it right sometimes die. Novik, you have my full attention. And not only because I love learning about magical stuff. It provided all the school setting feels with a dystopian high-stakes attitude. Definitely a unique combination. The source of my hesitation was the main character. She came across incredibly unlikable from the start with this “poor me” attitude that frankly seemed to me to be the biggest cause of her problems. Sure, she had a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I saw her as mostly in her own way and those obstacles a minor secondary issue. That said, the more I read the more I realized I actually liked reading about an atypical heroine. Her choices were interesting and her motives were unusual. I wouldn’t call her an anti-hero, per se, but maybe one in training. It’s also incredibly nice to read about flawed characters because, whether I like them or not, I always find them relatable to one degree or another. This gifted, ornery, always exasperated girl won me over, and I now find myself eager to read what she’ll do next – the unexpected is exciting! And finally, a book with a school setting that’s not riddled with YA angst. Oh, sure, the main character is put-upon and angsty, but it’s in a much different vein than the troppy YA stuff I’m referring to. For starters, the POV isn’t consumed by a love interest, and so was able to focus on the many other interesting problems prevalent throughout the book. The change of pace was wonderful. I realize this was not written for the YA market, so obviously it’s bound to be different. But it’s hard to find a magic school setting with a teenaged female character in anything other than that market (recs welcome). I hope after this, we’ll see a few more. I also came to really appreciate the writing style. Incredibly conversational, it was infused with countless strategic tirades of information. It had such a strong voice, the plethora of info dumps didn’t bother me even though I think my critiquing radar should’ve been beeping off the charts. I’ve never been quite as bothered by info dumps as other readers. In fact, I had to practice recognizing them so I could avoid them in my own writing. For me it has always been more an issue of subject matter – if I’m interested in learning about whatever is being dumped, bring it on. There were a lot of explanation passages in this book – some of them mayhaps more long-winded than they needed to be – but most of them fit within the voice of the POV and served to reveal character, as her opinions overshadowed everything she was sharing. I didn’t mind it, but I can see how others might. Recommendations: a huge win for the year! It took a few chapters to get going, but the setting, writing style, and ornery main character eventually won me over. It managed to incorporate all the things I love about magic school stories without the overdone tropes. Novik brought a unique spin to the idea, and I’m hopeful others will love it as much as I did. :) Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com Other books you might like:

  26. 4 out of 5

    Delirious Disquisitions

    I went in expecting grimdark or something just really serious and scary. But instead I got a snarky heroine and sunshine OTP! I just honestly had such a fun time reading this! RTC

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Star Rating: —> 5 Stars GAHHHH THIS WAS EVERYTHING I WAS HOPING FOR & MORE !!!! *screams excitedly, albiet a little annoyingly fangirl-y (#sorrynotsorry 🤷🏼‍♀️)* I just wish it had been longerrrrrr! There are so many books where i’m like GAAAHHHHH they should’ve stopped at 300! But NOT this one! I could’ve read forever about the Scholomance! But what is around only 300 pgs? THIS EFFING BOOK. -___- lol. My GODDDDD THIS WAS PHENOMENALLLLL AND I’M SO HAPPY! RTC ___________________ I AM POSITIVELY SURE I Star Rating: —> 5 Stars GAHHHH THIS WAS EVERYTHING I WAS HOPING FOR & MORE !!!! *screams excitedly, albiet a little annoyingly fangirl-y (#sorrynotsorry 🤷🏼‍♀️)* I just wish it had been longerrrrrr! There are so many books where i’m like GAAAHHHHH they should’ve stopped at 300! But NOT this one! I could’ve read forever about the Scholomance! But what is around only 300 pgs? THIS EFFING BOOK. -___- lol. My GODDDDD THIS WAS PHENOMENALLLLL AND I’M SO HAPPY! RTC ___________________ I AM POSITIVELY SURE I AM DREAMING! THIS MUST BE A DREAM, RIGHT?!? *swoons*

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    MY COPY JUST ARRIVED IN THE MAIL!! ...is this heaven???

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hollis

    A DEADLY EDUCATION is like a dark mashup of Harry Potter — if the only class was Defense Against the Dark Arts — complete with the magical puberty problems and monster-attraction issues ala Percy Jackson, but if instead of Buffy we had Faith saving the world all the time.. though hella reluctantly. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. This book is nothing like what I expected a book by Novik would be. This, for all the darkness and the fact that it's set inside a castle that seems to be active A DEADLY EDUCATION is like a dark mashup of Harry Potter — if the only class was Defense Against the Dark Arts — complete with the magical puberty problems and monster-attraction issues ala Percy Jackson, but if instead of Buffy we had Faith saving the world all the time.. though hella reluctantly. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. This book is nothing like what I expected a book by Novik would be. This, for all the darkness and the fact that it's set inside a castle that seems to be actively working to kill it's residents — or at last lead it's inhabitants into a position to die and casually look away — is funny, quippy, and strange. Unlike Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or even Faith, we are tossed into the depths of things via Galadriel's (El's) point of view. She isn't a noob blinking big innocent eyes as she wanders into this new world, no. She's in her second to last year, having survived many years, many near deaths, with a prophecy already hanging over her head; she's full of the bitterness and disdain from years of rejections, years of loneliness, and completely unimpressed when the school's hero not only suddenly takes a shine to her but also saves her life.. a lot. I liked our MC so much. I thought El's snarky voice, her rudeness, was great. She has cultivated her niche deliberately because of circumstances completely out of her control but as delightful as she is at the onset, I loved her journey and evolution even more. Equally fun was Orion, the hero, the saviour, was equally not as one-note as he could've been. There are layers to both these characters and their interactions were a lot of fun as this definitely leaned into the enemies-turned-reluctant-allies-turned-friends trope. Infact, I don't think I disliked a single character? Yes, I, too, am shook. Though we never leave this young-person death trap of a school, Novik still manages to make her world feel big. This is helped not only because of the diversity of the students we are exposed to but, more importantly, all the Enclaves all over the world (think of them as Shadowhunter Institutes) they might be invited to after graduation if they are smart, skilled, or sought after enough. The rules are strange. I won't explain further but.. don't expect House points! I had such a good time reading this, despite how different it was from my expectations, and I devoured it in less than a day. I enjoyed this so much and am very intrigued and very keen for more. ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** ---- This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phuong ✯

    – 3 stars We all have to gamble with our lives in here, we don't get a choice about that; the trick is figuring out when it's worth taking a bet. I was SO excited to start this book, cause the premise of a magic school trying to kill its student? Sounds like a good time, not for the students at Scholomance, but at least for me. While I loved the dark academia theme of this book, what I couldn't deal with was the ENDLESS MONOLOUGE and INFO DUMPING. This is my first book by Naomi Novik, so I – 3 stars We all have to gamble with our lives in here, we don't get a choice about that; the trick is figuring out when it's worth taking a bet. I was SO excited to start this book, cause the premise of a magic school trying to kill its student? Sounds like a good time, not for the students at Scholomance, but at least for me. While I loved the dark academia theme of this book, what I couldn't deal with was the ENDLESS MONOLOUGE and INFO DUMPING. This is my first book by Naomi Novik, so I'm not familiar with her writing style at all, but the way this book was like 70% just Galadriel (h) inner thoughts was boring me. It was just world building and more world building all in her head and I was getting bored a lot. It felt like never-ending pages of monologue with two or three lines of dialogue in between sometimes. It definitely got better towards towards the second half, when El got more friends and wasn't all by herself, but even then there wasn't enough dialogues with the other characters. The other thing I wasn't digging was Orian Lake, the Hero and El's love interest, white-knighting the last few years and playing hero. I just hate HERO COMPLEX so much 😭🤚plleeasse just let these creatures do their thing and kill students! These poor things are starving, bc you kill them all, before they can unfold their true potential ✨ Cause I'm all about natural selection, I don't approve Orion trying to rescuing everyone! Knowing that Orian actually doesn't have a hero complex, but that this dude has a serious hard on for killing these monster and that's like his only ambition in life doesn't help. The true MVP of this book is for sure our dear heroine Galadriel. El giving Orian shit for saving her for the x times is just giving me life. She's my ✨spirit animal ✨. The way this girl exudes big dick energy without having a dick is just chef's kiss. El is my new sarcastic, snarky, kickass and fiercely loyal queen and I'm reading for her and for HER ONLY! I was cheering for her the whole book to show everyone her dark magic and give them hell for ignoring her most of her life. All I want is for my bitter and angry queen to thrive. It also needed to be said how refreshing it was that El didn't give a fuck about Orion's reputation and treated him like a human instead of worshipping him like the rest of the school. "Orion, get over here! Orion! Orian Lake, that means you, you tragic blob of unstemmed pudding, we're going." I hope Miss Novik let the other characters shine in the next book and doesn't make another Orion-show out of it. Nothing against that dude, but I get it that he has the ability to protect everything, but I just want to see the potential of El and the rest of the students.

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