A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.
At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .
Friends in my bookclub highly recommend this series, so when I saw the second book for request on NetGalley, I quickly requested it. Then I had to hustle to read the first (I listened to an audiobook) before diving in.
This school, The Scholomance, is a nonstop Hunger Games kind of place. Students’ lives are constantly threatened by hidden creatures, alliances are made and broken – and that’s just to get downstairs to the cafeteria where food often runs short. Graduations are traditionally a bloodbath, with students required to fight their way out a monster-filled pit. Even making it to senior year is nothing short of a miracle. Definitely a survival of the fittest scenario.
If you’re as big a fan of snark and sarcasm as I am, you’ll immediately fall for main character El. She doesn’t hold back her feelings – unless it comes to chosen one and her maybe boyfriend (she keeps denying it) Orion. The conversations and interactions between the two of them are sometimes awkward, occasionally combative, and always entertaining. Initially a loner, El now has friends and allies and is determined they all survive their final year. She and Orion may be the only people capable of ensuring that happens.
This story is told from El’s POV and while I love her voice, there’s very little dialogue throughout the novel. It’s a writing style I haven’t come across often, and I admit to veering off the path of the story while El’s thoughts ramble before making their way back to the original point. Pacing in the first half of the novel isn’t as brisk as I’d expected, but around the 75% mark, the action really takes off like a rocket. And that ending! For some reason I thought this was a duology, but clearly there will be a third book – there better be – and I’m almost scared to see the direction it takes.
If you’re looking for a darker magic academy type of story with incredibly dangerous and life-threatening stakes, this is a series I’d recommend.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.