Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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Member Reviews

would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this unique book

what the hell have i just read....very comfortable with harry potter and though this isnt quite like that...its still a school where there are no teachers and things that go bump in the night can actually eat you...

there are all sorts of monsters abound and plenty of magic...where spells are bartered for and groups are encouraged

though el is a girl on her own. she has made no friends but she does have people she can barter with and thats important bartering and sharing...

have to say i thoroughly enjoyed this book and cant wait for the next one in this series

will also be keeping an eye out for more of this authors book

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This was fun! I loved the world!

I went in thinking this was the type of school where Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games. If you survive you have graduated, but I thought students were taking down other students making it a deadly and fierce competition. It's not. And having read it, I'm so glad it's not. This school draws in the dark things from the shadows completely naturally. Having a bunch of young energy in one place will do that. There are no teachers as they don't last long, but there is a void in everyone's room (or cell as the main character refers to it) and you can ask for a spell and the void throws out a book or two. Unlucky for the MC, the void sends her the explosive and destructive spells when all she wants is a spell that cleans the floor. I loved how the world seems to be against her and she is trying so hard not to fall down that rabbit hole.

The wold building is well done and easily followed. It's clearly set in our world with the magical elements being ignored and invisible to the mundane. The world itself is folder piece by piece without you wanting t know more. You are given the exact right amount of information at any step.

This book didn't have a lot of dialogue and normally I hate that. It makes the story feel heavy and sluggish. This didn't though. I think a lot of El's snark and sarcasm lifted it all. Also, the world and the school was so interesting that all that information which was tucked into everything made me want to read on and know more.

For the writing, I had no issues with spelling, sentences, the layout of paragraph or formatting of the text. This book didn't have a lot of dialogue and normally I hate that. It makes the story feel heavy and sluggish. This didn't though. I think a lot of El's snark and sarcasm lifted it all and made it funny which is easier to read. Also, the world and the school was so interesting that all that information which was tucked into everything made me want to read on and know more.

I loved it and I can't wait for the next book!

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Uprooted and Spinning Silver are two of my absolute favourite novels in recent years: full of strong characters and heart and twists on the genres they inhabit. I'm so pleased that A Deadly Education continued the run.

I didn't really grow up with Harry Potter - my main interaction with the books and films has been reading / watching them with my children - so I can't say much useful about how Scholomance and its world compares to Hogwarts. But I can say that coming fresh to the 'school for wizards' fiction category, I was quickly drawn in.

I love the darkness and the danger of the school Naomi has created: monsters (or 'mals') popping out of every corner / roof-tile / school-dinner tureen all the time, frequently killing / eating students; and a graduation ceremony that involves running through a hall full of slavering mals wielding as much magic as you can and hoping you're one of the few who makes it out alive.

It's paced beautifully, and as the characters open up – El, the main character mainly, but also the friends she gradually makes – I very quickly cared a lot about them. The world building is also really good: not just the school itself, but the world beyond it of wizarding 'enclaves' in the major cities around the world. There's so much scope for the books after this one. And as with Uprooted and Spinning Silver, the writing carries you along. Roll on book #2...

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I…expected more from A Deadly Education.

And I think that’s all to do with the fact that it’s written by Naomi Novik. I think, if this book had been written by a debut, or someone I’d never read before, I think would have given them benefit of the doubt. But the thing is, I know Novik can write lyrical, powerful, beautiful stories, and this just did not hit that mark.

Which may sound weird, since I gave it four stars.

First of all, thank you so much Del Rey UK for approving me for an e-copy of A Deadly Education on Netgalley. May have screamed and made my dog jump when I got the email.

Galadriel “El” is currently a junior at the Scholomance, a school for budding witches and wizards, where they are supposedly protected from Maleficaria, dark creatures that feed off the energy that magic folk use to cast spells. And witches and wizards going through puberty? They’ve got lots of it, meaning they’re a target. So, the adults built a school in the void, with only one way in and one way out when you ‘graduate’. But, it doesn’t mean Maleficaria don’t try their best to crawl through each crevice to get to their food. So, with the help of the teacherless school, the students learn how to survive through teaming up, using their resources, and not hanging around somewhere for too long.

Now, while that was a fairly brief, simple synopsis about what this book is about, it doesn’t nearly cover it. Because there’s so much freakin’ exposition. The exposition, the descriptions, and the history of this school and magic society doesn’t stop, not even until the very end. If this were a bigger book, I think it wouldn’t have been so bad. It could have been spread out and not felt like so much was crammed in. But A Deadly Education is just over 300 pages, which is so short for the story it’s trying to tell. The chapter breaks are long, however, meaning the explanations don’t stop, there’s no pause for breath.

I get it, this school is different, this world has a lot going on, but could it not be staggered?
Could it not have been explained when necessary for us to understand the context? Action was bogged down by history lessons that seemed to have no correlation to what was going on. And while, sure, that was an interesting fact, could it have waited until later?

Naomi Novik clearly loves the world she’s created. So much so that she can’t wait to tell you all about it. But it means you have to wade through it all to find that story. And hey, the story is pretty good! I love Galadriel; she’s resourceful, cunning, out for number one, with a little evil that she has to keep pushing down. I liked her coming to terms with the idea that you can have friends without taking advantage or befriending them for a ‘purpose’ other than survival. And of course, the romance between her and Orion is hilarious and sweet.

A Deadly Education was almost a three star read. But then, very cleverly, the ending brought it up to a four. So, after all that, here’s me waiting for the next book.

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A Deadly Education is true to its name as I've never read a book where getting an education can be so deadly. 

The leading lady in A Deadly Education is Galadriel aka El, and although she isn't well-liked by her classmates I really liked her.  She is blunt, sarcastic and smart, which not everyone can handle. Although her magic infinity is for the destruction she tries really hard not to blow things up and kill everyone.  

One of my favourite element is El "relationship" with Orion Lake the 'Hero" of Schoolmance. Everyone in the school treats Orion like the golden child and they bend over backwards for him. El doesn't and I love some of the insults she throws at him. I liked it even more when he banters back.

What surprised me about A Deadly Education was how emotional I got when El talked about the way people treat her and the loneliness of it all. Especially as everyone loves her mum so much she can see the difference even more, in the way they treat her.

There is a lot of Drama in A Deadly Education with the fact that death is literally around every corner from evil maleficent trying to eat your malia aka magic and even some student will kill you for power. Having this ever-present danger keeps the pact and interest in the story. I was never sure what the end game would be for the story but enjoyed the ending and how it left things for book 2. 

My rating for A Deadly Education is 3.8 out of 5.

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I am already a big fan of Novik's work and knew she was a great writer, but I can say without any doubt that A Deadly Education is my favourite Novik book. It’s incredibly faced paced, taking you by the hand and sprinting like an Olympic athlete.
We follow El, a girl with no connections to any powerful enclaves (powerful wizarding communities) or any friends at all in the most dangerous school in the world. See the wizard teenagers of this world are the favourite meals of all kinds of horrific monsters, and if left in the normal world to grow up they have a 4 in 10 chance of surviving to adulthood. The school increases their chances dramatically, it is the safest place in the world for them and spots there are highly coveted. Yet death in the school is a constant reality and many monsters are still able to sneak through the wards and snack on the most vulnerable.
The experience of reading about the most dangerous school I could ever imagine and knowing that still, this is the safest place for these kids and that’s how bad it is for them in the normal world is just horrifying. The sense that you could die at any moment, that you most likely will if your one of the many unluckily few without enclave protection is steeped in every inch of the school. If you miss a class? You’ll probably die. Fail a test? Die. Eat lunch? Die. Go to the library? Die. If you are not vigilant and as paranoid as El then you will most likely die.
The exhaustion of constantly living with these stakes, on the knifes edge all the time is encapsulated perfectly in El as we follow her trying to make connections and alliances with other students in a desperate bid to survive her education. El has lived in this school entirely alone, unlike the enclave kids who are born into powerful wizarding groups who pool their power and share it only with each other. This has understandably shaped El into the fiery character I adored. She has never been liked by anyone other than her mother and this does not change when she enters the school. She is rude and caries a boiling rage after years of being left the scraps while the enclave kids live in luxury and safety. It’s a brilliant look at class tensions and privilege (certainly more effective and well done than Harry Potter) that is heightened dramatically due to the life and death situation. The non-enclave students are quite literally used as body fodder to protect the enclave kids and the non-enclave kids know that protecting them offers them the only chance at a better life; if only they can survive high school first.
I also must rave about the magic system! It’s in one part super clever and refreshingly simple. There are some complicated parts to it but it all boils down to one thing, magic is hard and painful work. For students not in an enclave who share a seemingly bottomless pit of magic, you must build it up and work for it. The safest way is to do something you find difficult for a long time, like 500 push up or knitting. As soon as you get better at these things and find it easier, the less magic you can build up. It fits the nature of the world so perfectly and shows how building up resources on your own is ceaseless and painful work. There are ways to cheat at this, you can build magic quickly and easily by draining the life out of living beings, but it will eventually lead to the destruction of your own body. It is, unfortunately, this aspect of magic that El is naturally talented at and one she refuses to give into, unable to bear the idea of stepping over other people’s bodies even if it can give her a better chance to live.
Overall, I loved this book and I know it’s one I will constantly reread. For those who enjoy face-paced adventures set in a brutal world where danger lurks around every corner, this book is a must.

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Oh my goodness. I loved THIS. Naomi Novik is fast becoming one of my favourite fantasy writers thanks to Uprooted and Spinning Silver and so I was keen to read her take on a magical boarding school story. Thanks to lovely Netgalley I managed to get my hands on it a month early and took it on holiday which gave me the time and space to really enjoy this clever inventive book.

So a magical boarding school for witches. We've all read this before, right? Not like this. We might all secretly think our Hogwarts letters got lost in the post but I for one am very glad I wasn't summoned to this particular school. The premise is this: magic exists and so do a multitude of nasty creatures who have inventive ways of ending the lives of witches and they particularly love vulnerable adolescent witches. The elite in the magical world live in fort-like enclaves where they can work together to protect their children, but even they lost chilren at an alarming rate. So a school was created somewhere out of time and space where teens are deposited between 14 and 18. There are no teachers, but the kids are super motivated to learn because that's how they stay alive. Once in the school they stay there until they graduate or die, with only the things they took in with them to last them for the four years. It's easier for the enclave kids with ready made cliques and allies and a better chance of getting out after graduation. Because even in the school the nasties lurk and graduation is the most dangerous time of all.

El is a third year and has no friends or allies. Destined from birth to be a great dark witch she has to work extra hard to stay on the right path, hard when every spell you learn is one of death and destruction and everyone assumes you've gone to the bad anyway. Needing allies to help her survive graduation she's planning to show her classmates her strength in some spectacular way, but her plans are thwarted by class hero Orion Lake who will keep turning up and saving her life although she's quite capble of looking after herself.

Dark and twisty and original A Deadly Education is a brilliant book, El a unique and compelling heroine and if the next two in the trilogy live up to the first book then the Scholomance series is destined to become a YA Fantasy classic. Read it.

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Hogwarts meets Hunger Games

The Scholomance is the world’s best (and only) school for young wizards. There are no teachers, just the school itself – and as graduation has a 50% fatality rate, survival is a great motivator for learning.

El isn’t great with people, or with spells that involve anything less than mass destruction. But if she can at least impress the other students with her skills, she could secure an alliance for graduation and beyond. Resident hero Orion Lake isn’t helping: not only does he keep rescuing her, his latest heroics have left a smelly mess all over her bedroom floor and she's struggling to find an appropriate cleaning spell. But with the school getting more dangerous by the day, if she’s going to live long enough to reach graduation, El is going to need all the allies - maybe even friends - she can get. And perhaps to be a little bit heroic, too.

A fascinating new world with a sarcastic, dangerous heroine, A Deadly Education is a fun and absorbing read that will appeal not just to teens, but to adults, too.

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It’s a school for the magically gifted, but it isn’t Hogwarts! The only way to leave the Scholomance is to graduate or die. The idea of the school being in a void is terrifying and the shifting alliances between the students keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

The character of El drives the book forward – she is so hostile at the beginning, and even by the end of the book when she has proved herself she is endearingly stroppy. The male protagonist Orion isn’t developed as fully, but the books ends with a cliffhanger which suggests that there is more to him than meets the eye.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is very different to Novik’s previous books, Spinning Silver and Uprooted, which are based on Eastern European myths, but the central characters of all three books share the same independent attitude.

I’m looking forward to book 2 with bated breath, particularly given that cliffhanger!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Cornerstone for sending me the proof.

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Despite having never read anything by Naomi Novik before, A Deadly Education was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. A super dark, female-led Harry Potter? Sign me up. Unlike Hogwarts, however, this school has no teachers and is infested with dark creatures crawling through the shadows. Not only that, but graduation will probably kill you. Would I like to study there? Hell no! But it made for an interesting read 😂

So. Let’s just talk about this school shall we? As I mentioned before, there are no teachers, and the place is infested with monsters. You might be wondering why anybody would choose to go there, right? Well, it turns out that being stuck in the outside world during puberty is about the worst thing a magically gifted teenager can face. So they seek shelter within the walls of the Scholomance where their chances at survival are higher, though in no way guaranteed. When graduation comes, the surviving seniors get dropped into a nest of hungry monsters, their only goal: to get out of the doors. It’s terrifying and unique, and honestly, the whole school system is fascinatingly dark.

That being said, I did struggle with sections of this book. There are huge swaths of information thrown at you, and sometimes it just feels a little irrelevant. And it’s not even just in the beginning. The trend continues throughout the whole book. It’s clear that Naomi Novik wanted the reader to learn as much as they could about this world she’s created, and that’s totally understandable. But sometimes I just wanted something to happen, y’know? Nevertheless, once I realised that this was going to continue throughout the story, I adjusted my expectations and managed to fall in love with the book.

Our main character, Galadriel – or El, for short – is a sassy sorceress with an affinity for dark, destructive magic. Even her minor spells can have catastrophic consequences. She’s an unlikable protagonist, abrasive and rude to basically everyone who crosses her path, and I just loved her for reasons even I can’t fathom. This girl has been through the ringer. She was disowned by the majority of her family due to a nasty prophecy that says she’s probably going to destroy the world. I think it’s safe to say she’s earned some bitterness 😂 As the end of her junior year approaches, however, she comes to the conclusion that she needs help. People who will watch her back. True friendship doesn’t exist within the walls of the Scholomance, but maybe she can find a group of allies. Watching her juggle the politics of the school whilst also trying to stay alive and prevent herself slaughtering hundreds of people in the process really makes you feel for this snarky, unlikable character.

My main issue with this book, aside from the major info-dumping that goes on, is the romance. Or rather, “romance”. Orion Lake is the school hero. For some reason, the monsters leave him alone, so he doesn’t understand why the other students get into so much trouble all the time. El never asked him to save her, he just sort of latches on to her for no apparent reason. The entire book is basically El trying to figure out if they’re dating. I mean, the rest of the school seems to think so. It’s kind of hilarious. It’s also kind of annoying. I don’t want hilarious “romance”. I want actual chemistry, actual character building, or nothing at all. I don’t know why it bugged me so much, but there you go 🙈

The magic school setting is something that’s been around forever, so naturally it can feel a little samey sometimes. However, Naomi Novik managed to make it feel brand new again. The worldbuilding is extremely clever, and the magic is unique. Despite my issues with certain aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I have a feeling the rest of the series is going to be just as dark, just as thrilling, and just as intriguing.

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This was a fun Sci Fi story. A school for people with magical abilities who are at continual risk of being eaten by various anomalies which live in the school. Graduation day is generally when a majority of the pupils are eaten before they make it out of the door. The story describes there day to day lives or deaths as the case may be. A very imaginative story which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Having read Niomi Novik before I was super excited to get stuck into a book that was centred around a school of magic and a main character who was a little dark.

I loved the setting, loved the magic and the depth I got from it, and I loved El as a main character; she was feisty and sassy and funny - I instantly liked her and her blatant negative outlook on things. She felt real.

Whilst the school is full of danger and crazy I was instantly wishing I could go and experience the crazy for myself. I wanted to learn and experience it all.

Whilst I really enjpyed this book and burned through it very quickly I would say that there are moments where you feel as though you have been chucked in without all the information. There are moments where it can be a little info dumpy...but not overly so, and I would also say that I was waiting, and waiting for El to have her big moment, and it felt like that never really came. I felt like I was promised big things from her and then the defining moment never really occurred.

That being said I did enjoy the book and would recommend it, and I will also read book 2 when it comes out.

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Naomi Novik no es una autora desconocida para mí ni para les lectores españoles. Reconozco que me conquistó con Un cuento oscuro, aunque me dejó un poco fríe con Un mundo helado (pun intended). Sin embargo, salta a la vista que Novik sabe construir historias muy diferentes entre sí con personajes de lo más particulares. Por esa razón, os pido que abráis la mente, porque A Deadly Education es una novela bastante… inesperada.

Nada más anunciarse su publicación, los medios y editoriales empezaron a venderla como «Una mezcla entre Hogwarts y Los Juegos del Hambre» y eso a mí ya me hizo alzar una escéptica ceja. Nunca sale nada bueno de las mezclas que se inventan las empresas editoriales a partir de productos ya existentes para vender productos nuevos. Y, en este caso, aquí ocurre un poco de lo mismo. De Hogwarts solo encontramos una escuela de magia con adolescentes (y no, eso no lo inventó la terf que no debe ser nombrada, es un subgénero de la fantasía que viene ya de lejos) y de Los Juegos del Hambre solo encontramos… un sistema de castas y adolescentes muertes.

A Deadly Education no tiene un título amable en inglés y espero que en español no lo suavicen de ninguna forma, ya que resume a la perfección la trama: les adolescentes con magia van a una escuela donde deben aprender a sobrevivir pronto o pueden morir a manos de criaturas terribles cuando menos se lo esperan. Y, diréis: pero ¿qué crueldad es esa? Pues en realidad es todo lo contrario, porque les xadres envían a sus hijes a esta escuela porque allí están más protegides que en el mundo exterior.

Mi teoría, mientras leía la novela, era que Novik había hecho una apuesta para ver si creaba un mundo al que nadie, absolutamente nadie, querría ir. Me explico: en la escuela puedes morir de diversas formas (monstruos en el baño, debajo de la cama, en las aulas; comida envenenada; compañeres de clase que te matan a la primera de cambio…), pero es que fuera es peor. Los maleficaria, que así se llaman estos monstruos que adquieren un aspecto a cada cual más grotesco, se sienten atraídos sobre todo por personas adultas. Encerrar a les adolescentes en la escuela durante años es, por tanto, una forma de protegerles, algo que se hace por su propio bien. Para más inri, las familias no tienen prácticamente ninguna forma de saber si sus hijes han sobrevivido hasta que salen de la escuela, años después.

Me he ido por las ramas explicando la base del mundo de Scholomance, pero es lo mismo que le ocurre a Novik en A Deadly Education. Una buena parte del inicio es una explicación extensa que dura páginas y más páginas sobre cómo es la escuela y cómo funciona el mundo y cómo puedes morir y cómo puedes sobrevivir. Todo está contado desde el punto de vista de la protagonista, Galadriel (o El), que prefiere ir por libre, pero ve que en realidad no puede, ni debe, porque para sobrevivir necesita la ayuda de sus compañeres. El siente una tendencia insana hacia la magia oscura, por lo que siempre se está esforzando para hacer las cosas bien, aunque el resto de alumnes no lo aprecien y la consideren rara.

En contraposición a El tenemos a Orion, un chaval que tiende a salvar a todo el mundo y, a cambio, todo el mundo piensa que es un héroe maravilloso. Por su puesto, a El le cae como el culo y prefiere mantenerse alejada de él, pero al parecer están destinados a encontrarse a la mínima de cambio, a saber: cada vez que aparece un maleficaria (que es, aproximadamente, cada diez páginas).

Veréis, en libros como A Deadly Education, donde todo va mal y todo es horrible; donde hay violencia y más violencia y, ¡oh!, sangre, vísceras, muerte, etc., etc.; donde la maldad se ha convertido en algo cotidiano, llega un punto en el que ya te da igual. Te despegas de la trama y de los personajes y solo quieres ver cómo acaba todo (regular, seguramente). Hay autores que esto lo hacen estupendamente, como Octavia Butler, que consigue mantenerte en tensión durante toda la trama una de sus obras maestras, Parable of the Sower, en la que presenta un mundo distópico demasiado parecido al nuestro, por desgracia. Pero con Novik solo esperas a que aparezca el siguiente monstruo.

Así pues, mi sensación durante toda la lectura fue un poco de aburrimiento, porque sentía un interés escaso por tanta violencia gratuita y porque estaba harta de que me explicaran el mundo, a la par que me preguntaba cómo leches iba a acabar aquello. La trama en sí me pareció un tanto predecible, ya que me da la sensación de que Novik ha concentrado todos sus esfuerzos en desarrollar el mundo de Scholomance. Tanto es así, que la novela chorrea worldbuilding por los cuatro costados y, al final, te cansas.

Cuando terminé de leer A Deadly Education, me quedó un regusto amargo. Sin embargo, reconozco que tiene cosas muy chulas, a saber:
-LA PROTAGONISTA: El está hasta el coño de todo y no lo esconde (me representa). Sabe que podría sobrevivir si se dejara seducir por el lado oscuro, pero siempre conserva su integridad.
-LA MADRE DE EL: no aparece de forma directa, solo a través de los recuerdos y pensamientos de su hija, pero es una señora que deja huella y, además, es anticapitalista a tope.
-EL SISTEMA DE CASTAS: Vale, esto no es bueno de por sí, pero está muy bien construido y la crítica de Novik está clara. Si no perteneces a un enclave, mueres. Y, para pertenecer a un enclave, debes aportar algo de valor y debes trabajar para él de por vida. Novik crea un sistema capitalista que favorece a la persona más rica y extermina a la que se sale de la norma. Por supuesto, El está muy en contra de esto.
-LAS AMIGAS DE EL: aunque su vínculo tarda en desarrollarse, me gustaría ver cómo florece esta amistad en el segundo libro.

Y lo que no me ha gustado tanto sería:
-EL DICHOSO WORLDBUILDING, que no se acaba nunca.
-LA PRIMERA PERSONA: aunque el personaje de El mola, queda poco natural que se pare a explicar todas las cosas nuevas que salen en la novela. Pero todas, todas. Así es normal que la trama no avance hasta bien pasado el 30 % del libro.
-LOS MONSTRUOS FEOS CANSAN, es decir, sabemos que un monstruo con tentáculos y doce pares de ojos y quinientos dientes es feo y malo y querrá comerte, pero ¿qué tiene eso de interesante? El monstruo que más me interesó fue Jack y, para mí, no está bien aprovechado.
En definitiva: A Deadly Education es una novela donde lo importante es la ambientación que ha creado Naomi Novik y no tanto la trama ni los personajes, aunque estos son potentes. A mí me dejó un regusto amargo, pero me gustaría leer la segunda parte, ya que, una vez desarrollado todo el worldbuilding, quizá la autora aproveche el potencial del mundo de Scholomance para desarrollar una trama que me enganche de verdad.

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I LOVED this book!

I was already half way sold but the mentions of a sassy heroine, magic school and Novik's famous world building but I wasn't prepared for just how good it would be.

Our main character El is a straight talking anti people, strict mana wizard (I can relate to this on many levels) who attends the Sholomance. A teacher less wizard school where everything once to kill you. Including but not limited to Mals (dark creatures), other students and at one point even the morning's scrambled eggs. Oh and of course the school itself which slowly spirals you and your fellow classmates down to a graduation hall where near certain death waits.

Or love interest Orion is an actual badass, not our usual YA hero where we here about how great he is but really he just spends most of the time lounging, hardly a chapter goes by without Orion saving someone (or being a show off as El would put it). There's also a loveable cast of side characters to really get to love.

That ending though!

I can't wait for the next book.

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This was my first book by Naomi Novik, and I know she's a super popular author, so I went into this with fairly high expectations. While I read my fair share of fantasy, I don't read a lot of the dark academia/magical school type of book, so this was also new for me, and I had SO MUCH FUN.

In this story, we follow Galadriel (El), a young girl attending the Scholomance, a magical school filled with monsters that quite literally want to eat the students and steal their power. El is very much a loner at the school, struggling with a lack of friends, which puts her at constant risk at the Scholomance. Also at the school we have Orion Lake, a boy in El's year who is revered by all the students at the school for constantly killing the monsters and saving endless amounts of students on a day to day basis. El has a strong dislike for Orion and the other essentially "rich kids" at the school, and we follow El as she navigates new friendships and struggles at the Scholomance, as her newfound "relationship" with Orion after he saves her opens up new doors for her.

I really loved El as a main character in this book. She is my ideal sarcastic, cynical character who just wants to get on with her day and move on with things. Throughout her life, she has been subject to constant prophecies and tales of how she will use her evil powers and destroy the world, and we see her apathy towards this as she's had to deal with it her entire life. She works hard to only use "good magic" (mana) and refuses to use even the smallest amounts of "dark magic" (malia). She holds immense power and I loved seeing this subversion of your typical heroine with no struggles to be good. I thought El was hilarious as a narrator, and I loved all her one-liners and jokes (a favourite being - "Reader, I ran the fuck away.") It was nice to read about her struggles with trust and seeing her open up more with other people throughout the course of the book. She also gets bonus points from me immediately for all her Welshness of course.

Orion was also a standout character for me. He was an adorable character who doesn't actually try to be the hero that everyone sees him as, and I really liked how he ended up being more layered a character than he seems on face value. Seeing his struggles with forming friendships and how people treat him was kind of sad to read, and added a lot to his character. I loved the relationship between El and Orion throughout the book, it was the best grumpy/sunshine relationship I could ask for, it was so much fun. Their banter and back and forth with each other never failed to make me smile, and it was just great.

The plot was also fun, and I really enjoyed the world that was built in this book. It was a little overwhelming at first because we were pretty much thrown in the deep end, but I actually ended up liking this. We learned about the world more slowly rather than being hit with an info dump, which I definitely appreciate. I just loved seeing the relationships and bonds between all the characters, and seeing them work together to achieve a greater goal. It was a really fast read for me, but my one complaint would be chapter length- the chapters were insanely long at times. The ending was also really nicely done, and left me with just enough of a cliffhanger to leave me wanting the next book already.

Overall, if you're looking for a fun, magical adventure with a dark and cynical main character and a fabulous grumpy/sunshine relationship, this is one for you!!

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Well, that went down in one big gulp! As a huge fan of Naomi Novik's Uprooted and Spinning Silver, I was desperate to read A Deadly Education and nearly fell off my chair when the publisher gave me an early copy. Hoorah! I (rather foolishly) started it at bedtime and stayed up until 4am reading the entire thing. Oops.

The story follows Galadriel ("El"), a junior at the Scholomance - a magical school which, somewhat accidentally, is killing its students. Infested with maleficaria ('mals') which are deeply attracted to young wizards going through puberty, the students walk to the showers and cafeteria in groups, and try never to venture anywhere alone. This is hard for El, a loner bearing a heavy prophecy: El will become a dark sorceress with the power to level mountains. El tries to remain good, reining in her power and instincts for bad spells, watching as her fellow students are picked off one by one by the mals - and watching with cynicism as a student with a hero complex, Orion Lake, tries to save them all. Orion (the wannabe hero) and Galadriel (the prophesied villain) recognise something in each other and form an unusual alliance in a place where every favour comes with a price: friendship.

The magic system is wonderfully creative. I loved that the wizards must generate mana (good magic) to do spells, generating it through - wait for it - push-ups, crochet and yoga. Bad magic is malia - sucking the life force from living objects.

The novel is an allegory for privilege. The rich students come from Enclaves who all stick together, provide the enclave students with vast resources of mana which they can pull from at any time, and generally have more of everything than anyone else. Kids desperate to join Enclaves will do anything for the rich Enclavers, while everyone else has, simply, less. El comes from a hippy commune in Wales with a mother who rejected the Enclave system; Orion is the most gifted student from the New York Enclave. Hello, culture clash, you are delicious.

But there's no getting around it - the amount of exposition in A Deadly Education is heavy. There are pages-long explanations for how things work, or the history of objects, or diversions into the ways of this magical world or the history of Galadriel and her family. Which is interesting, but also grinds the pace of many scenes to a halt. Almost every review I've seen has mentioned 'info-dumping', and I can't help but wonder what the novel might feel like if the scope of the story was broader, how we might have been introduced to the world in a more natural and pacy way. I also wonder if this is a novel which might have benefited from being freed from El's first-person perspective - third person, here, might have given us room for exposition handled more lightly. Who knows.

As the first in a series, this book also holds back from 'going there'. Everything you want to happen in this story... doesn't, quite. Not yet. The cliffhanger ending is WOWOWOW but it comes at the end of a finale in which the stakes aren't... quite as high as they were set up to be.

Don't get me wrong, I will categorically be reading the next book in the series and I relished reading this one. Down in one! If the sound of something akin to 'Hogwarts if the school was trying to eat its students' or 'a dark sorceress tries to remain good at Brakebills' tickles your imagination, then you are in for a treat. I think this would make a wonderful animated film... I can see it now, from the characters of Galadriel and Orion, to the beasts and creatures, and the school itself. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the very enjoyable read.

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Some books are objectively well written – neatly structured, with clever turns of phrase – but fail to tell enjoyable stories. Others are objectively poor – full of info-dumping, lacking a coherent plot, without a single likeable character, or all three – yet despite this, are so brilliant to read it doesn’t matter. ‘A Deadly Education’ is the latter. It’s a mess of a book, told in a first-person stream of consciousness style that goes on page-long tangents about entirely irrelevant points before abruptly jumping back to the original point that you’d forgotten was being made, but it’s such a fun book that it doesn’t matter. I regularly found myself laughing out loud reading it. This has been talked about as a fantasy dark academia, but the vibes I was getting from it were more Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth. Gideon and Novik’s protagonist, El, would outwardly hate each other but secretly get along like a house on fire, setting not just the house but the entire village on fire in the process.

‘A Deadly Education’ follows El, short for Galadriel, a sophomore student at the Scholomance – a school for those born with magic. However, it’s not like any other school. There are no teachers – in fact, there are no staff members at all. There are lessons, but the content is unpredictable and may or may not be helpful. There’s only one rule – survive – deceptively difficult when monsters stroll the halls. Thousands of students enter, but only a few hundred will leave.

El is a loner – her mother is a hippy at a commune in Wales, not a member of an Enclave which might have brought her daughter allies. In a school where alliances with other students are key to survival, this should have been a death sentence – except that El possesses dark magic strong enough to level mountains. Too bad that using that magic would kill everyone else in the school – and that no-one believes she has it. When her life is saved by the school’s resident hero – Orion, the son of the head of the New York Enclave, one of the most powerful witches in the world – El’s initial reaction is anger. How dare he think her incapable of protecting herself? When Orion continues to stick around like an old piece of chewing gum stuck to her shoe, the entire balance of power keeping the school in check shifts – with potentially devastating consequences.

El is the single best part of this book. She’s a perpetually angry, grumpy mess, but has a heart of gold – fortunate in someone with enough power to kill all those around her. Everything she says and thinks is completely deadpan but regularly hilarious – her interactions with Orion bring constant laughter. She’s also incredibly smart and insightful in the way she sees the world. At first, it’s easy to feel annoyed at her for her constant anger at others, but as the book unfolds it becomes easier to see why she acts in the way she does. Her character development is excellent – when she finally starts to let others in it’s one of the best moments of the book.

Orion is absolutely adorable. The saviour of the school, Orion has an entire Enclave’s worth of power at his back and a unique ability to kill Mals (monsters) and steal their power. His efforts mean there are more surviving students at the Scholomance than ever before -but they’ve also made the magic of the school very angry, and the Mals very hungry. Orion has always been hero-worshipped for his ability, so he has no idea what to do when El acts like her charming self with him. At first, his presence is hard to understand and he seems like a two-dimensional hero, but once again Novik brilliantly adds depth to his character as the story unfolds, painting a picture of a boy who just wants to be liked for who he is, rather than what he can do. Orion is also, for a conquering hero, the single naivest character in the world, and El’s continuing exasperation at his obliviousness is comedy gold.

The supporting characters are equally excellent. There’s Liu, who resorts to sacrificing animals to obtain power; Chloe, the spoilt rich girl from the New York Enclave who El can’t stand; Aadhya, the pragmatic trader and one of the few in the school to tolerate El’s presence; Magnus, the entitled prat who wants El dead for the crime of daring to talk to Orion. Even these characters grew and developed throughout the book, with Novik managing to flip opinions of them as events unfolded. She has a true gift for writing exceptional characters.

In many ways, the plot is simple – it has to be, to fit in around the winding tangents and info-dumps – but this matters less because of the intriguing setting and characters. It’s still tense, clever, and the ending is such an exceptional cliffhanger I’m both in awe and angry. Novik manages the rare skill of both making this stand alone as a full book and leaving a cliffhanger so good you need the next book immediately. She’d better not give us years to wait or I’ll be tearing my hair out at the suspense.

Overall, this is an info-dumpy mess that somehow still manages to be an exceptional book. Novik has dared to write a book that many people will hate but others will love for the sheer brilliance of the setting and characters. Recommended for those who like character-driven fantasy, intriguing settings, and grizzly, unlikeable characters who you end up loving anyway.

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Once my brain was able to make sense of all the information it needed to process, I was able to thoroughly enjoy my time reading A Deadly Education.

Set in a school for magic and made by magic known as the Scholomance, A Deadly Education follows the wonderfully pessimistic El along the deadly road to graduation, ie. the only way out of the place. Every day is filled with trying to survive long enough to see the next one as she faces demons/monsters known as maleficaria (mals) of all shapes and terrifying sizes. Enter the darling golden boy Orion Lake and his hero complex and we’re in for an entertaining ride.

Novik has created a very complex and fascinating world with great care, then filled that world with a number of interesting characters; morally grey, dark, himbo personified, genuine characters. The story is engaging and I’m excited to see what senior year brings our ragtag bunch.

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I want to preface by saying I don't think is a book for everyone, it has a very particular brand of humour (I would say in a similar vein to gideon the ninth) and has quite a cynical and sarcastic protagonist however this book just really clicked with me and I had the best time reading it!!!!

A Deadly Education follows El, who attends the scholomance which is a school that is literally trying to kill it's students (seriously someone call social services ahha), she is quite ostrasized from the other students both due to background (some students belong to enclaves which grants them certain priviledges - El however very much doesn't like the neclave students) and her general bad attitude and unfriendliness. El is a very interesting protagonist, as I said earlier she is very cynical and sarcastic but she also weirdly likeable and she is a great trope subversion on the chosen one, as she is almost the chosen one for evil, she knows she has a massive potential for spellcasting and she always seems to acquire spells of mass destruction but she is actually very conserved with her magic and knows she has the potenial for evil but tries to do the right thing.

At the start of the book El also has a deep (?)hatred for Orion, the so called hero of the school who goes around saving everyone from these monsters called mals. When Orion saves her life again she decides to cook up a scheme to make the school thing they are dating in order to get more social status/power. I want to take a minute to talk about Orion, it's no secret I am a massive fan of himbos and oh boy is Orion a himbo. He is the cutest, dumbest little ray of sunshine just trying to do his best whilst being completely oblivious to everything around him. El almost takes him under her wing which is hilarious to watch. Orion and El gradually become friends, which is the sweetest thing and El always being snipy with him but really he is her emotional support himbo uwu

I also really liked the survival aspect of this book, the school really is out to get everyone and there are so many cool monster battles!! I also think this book looks really well at power and social dynamics, how having a head start in life really helps you (and in this case literally means you survive) and the idea that it's not what you know it's who you know. It was a great reflection of the real world. Also the lengths people go to to get power, for example there are 2 types of power in this world, one is mana which people earn by doing tasks/exercise (ie the harder you work the more power you get) but then the powerful enclaves share their power (mana) amongst themselves whilst leaving those lower in status to fend for themselves. The other kind of magic we see is Malia, ehich is dark magic and requires pulling life from other things/beings - this is very much looked down upon but sometimes the students have to resort to this in order to survive.

I had so much fun reading this book, and watching El gradually come out of her shell and cautiously start trusting people was one of my favourites parts of this book (along with Orion being exactly my type ;)). This book is very different from spinning silver/uprooted so I wouldn't go in expecting that - it is much less fairytale like (although I thought the writing was still excellent - it was so easy to picture the scholomance) and a deadly education is more lighthearted I feel.

(also side note, if anyone has read this and the stormlight archive this basically reads as a shallan x adolin magical school au - which !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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I am, unfortunately, DNFing this at 25%.

The prose was incredibly messy and all over the place, the plot was strange, and it didn't have the dark vibes that I was expecting. I will say that I was really enjoying our two main characters a lot-- and the characterization so far was really well done-- but I just don't think I can make it through the remaining 75%.

I do think this will be enjoyable to a lot of people, but, unfortunately, it wasn't for me.

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