A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Another book I have been waiting to read for a long time

Themes: YA fantasy, dark academia

The synopsis

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. 

The review

I was expecting so much from this book and it delivered it all! I found it unusual both in the setting and the plot since we are based in a school full of monsters and without teachers. The atmosphere was perfectly horrific and was greatly helped by the writing style. I really liked the introduction during which El is presenting the school and why it is needed by directly addressing the reader.

The plot is quite simple: survive. The students of the Scholomance are trapped within it and must do whatever it takes not to be eaten by the monsters that are trapped with them and are dreaming to eat their magic. I felt the story was a bit of an excuse to show how mature young people can be when confronted with death and how capable they are in building a parallel, functioning society. I also enjoyed a lot the subversion of classic YA tropes such as the chosen one who in this case has a power that is more evil than good since El could kill everyone with a snap of her fingers. And the one who could be the real hero is only making things worse…

In brief: I loved this book that I found both refreshing and unusual. My favourite character (even if it is not really one) was the school itself which was quite sassy. It was an entity El and the other students had to deal with carefully. The drawings of the school were a nice touch to the book and helped to imagine the setting even better.

My rating: 5/5

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