Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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This was actually 4.5 stars for me. I really enjoyed the premise - a magic school with no teachers that actively tries to kill the students, and you graduate by making it out alive. The main character of El was brilliant - I loved her prickly nature and how she interacted with the other students, and finding out why she was the way she was. It was refreshing to read a powerful female protagonist who didn't feel the need to make herself likeable, but who I really liked anyway. I enjoyed watching her relationships develop as well as watching her come into her own power. The only down side for me was that occasionally I felt like too much backstory and explanation slowed the pacing slightly. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the rest of the series.

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I received this book through NetGalley but this review is all my own.

I don't read many YA books, but I liked the sound of this one - Harry Potter-esque but darker, more evil and more thrilling. What I got what a very short plot filled out with heaps and heaps of pages describing random creatures or retelling memories from the main character. It felt to me like a Stephen King novel - way too much description and not enough action! I don't read Stephen King as they bore me too much and this was the same. Took me way too long to get through and I was so distracted all the time!

I didn't particular like El, the main character - she was not a nice person to anybody most of the time, least of all the boy who kept saving her life! Ok, she could have saved herself, but she didn't even say thank you when he stepped in and killed the mals for her, saving her from using her own mana. She seemed to begrudge him from doing it, yet didn't bother to explain that she didn't need his help - she was just downright rude and arrogant towards him. No wonder she had no friends at the start! She did get better as the book went on, but by the end I didn't like her enough to care whether she lived or died!

The actual plot was pretty interesting - a magical school with no teachers, where the school expected you to do the work yourself and "punished" you if you didn't, with scary, mana eating creatures constantly trying to eat and kill the students, so they all had to form groups or alliances to survive. The fighting of the creatures was good fun to read, but most of the time, halfway through the fight, the narrative would turn into a long-winded description or memory of this particular mal! This also happened in the middle of conversations between characters and it almost felt like the author had so much to say that she would randomly info-dump in scenes to get it all written down.

An interesting idea, but not one for me!

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Naomi Novik writes a dark and gripping story full of wit and wonder in this series starter set at the Scholomance, a magical boarding school filled with monsters, mayhem and murder. Think Hogwarts, but the professor's have been switched out for a sentient building filled with Shadowhunter demons where the students must fight for their lives and their educations.

Large sections of the book are heavy on exposition, at times bordering on info-dumps. This may hamper some reader's enjoyment, but I couldn't get enough because I was fascinated by the world Novik reveals. The world building and magic system are expertly crafted and though the story is set entirely in the school, you begin to understand the structure of the wider magical world it's set in which I loved.

The magic system is unique and clever, with a well defined set of rules. It's an impressively intricate and innovative system that offers plenty of opportunity for both wickedness and humour (who knew crocheting could get you magic power?!)

The standout of the book is Galadriel's character arc and narrative voice, she's infused with so much heart, emotion and humour. She’s exceptionally rude to everyone and may not come across instantly likeable, but I think anyone would be hard pressed not to love her by the end after discovering her backstory and watching her make some tough personal decisions that show the true nature underneath the grouchy, snarky girl she appears on the surface.

Galadriel's interactions with her classmates and the general dynamics between students is a highlight. Especially those between Galadriel and the potential love interest, Orien. The whole cast of characters are well developed, distinct personalities who all add many layers to Galadriel's personal journey.

This is a fascinating start to the series and I'm already desperate for more. The only reason A Deadly Education didn't quite hit five stars is because the book focuses so heavily on the politics of the Scholomance, the world building and magic system that it makes the actual storyline and climax of the book feel a little slight.

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I was not a fan of Uprooted, but this one really took my by surprise. I really enjoyed it, and would highly recommend it, if you like fantasy set in school settings.

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I'd heard a lot of people getting excited about this book, so I picked it up even though I hadn't really managed to get in to any of the authors other work. And I'm so glad I did - after a kind of rambling first chapter that failed to grip me, the action really picked up and the story hooked me in.

The world building is incredible - so immersive that I'm still catching myself moving carefully through dark spots incase something unsavoury jumps out!

The magic system is really interesting too - slightly complicated at first but quickly becoming clearer.

I completely adored Galadriel's mother in particular, which I thought was impressive of the author since we never actually meet her in the book! However, the other characters were all fantastically multi layered and relatable.

This is the grown up Harry Potter that I didn't know I needed - except better. I'm now going off to purchase every beautiful copy of this book that I can get my hands on!

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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OH MY GOSH, that last line!
I knew something was coming, it was just building up for a cliff hanger last line but damn. I can’t wait for the next book.

I’ll be honest I wasn’t expecting much going into this one. I really wanted to love it because it sounded awesome and that cover looks epic but I have read the authors previous two books and while I enjoyed them I wasn’t overly taken with them. I really wanted to be and I heard only amazing things about them and they sounded fantastic but something just didn’t click for me and I was always a little sad that I didn’t fall in love with them like other people did.

I assumed this new book was going to be the same and I admit even when I started it I wasn’t thinking it was anything spectacular but after only a chapter or two maybe less? I lost track, I was completely hooked.

I loved it. Every moment of it and I couldn’t put it down.
Sure I feel like if you pulled out individual threads and examined them closely you might find faults but when it’s all mashed up together it somehow just works and is this epic novel.

I loved the main character and how down to earth she is but also kind of grumpy (with good cause) and hating on everyone because that kind of basically sounds like my attitude all the time but she’s also this super powerful badass wizard who could just wipe everyone out without breaking a sweat and yet puts so much effort into not using her power like that or turning evil even though it would be so easy to and it’s not like anyone is being great to her anyways? But she’s a decent, good person who has only wanted to be treated fairly.

I also loved the supporting characters and the way their depth and personalities grew and developed.

But the story telling was sublime. Everything is woven in brilliantly and you get a huge amount of info dumped on you because this is one intricate and unique world but it somehow didn’t feel overwhelming. It was just done really well.

Honestly I couldn’t put this down once I started it and finished it in a day.
I highly recommend picking this one up.

I will be posting this review on my blog and Instagram shortly.

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I’ve been a massive fan of Naomi Novik’s since reading Uprooted and she’s been an auto-buy for me ever since. So I went into A Deadly Education with extremely high expectations. I was not disappointed. It was different from Spinning Silver and Uprooted, in that despite the fantasy setting, the characters felt modern and young and of our time. It was the same as Uprooted and Spinning Silver in that the writing was wonderful, and the story was addictive and carried you along. The characters were as original as the world they exist in, and as we got to understand the world and magic system, so the individual characters and their relationships to each other grew. I stayed up far too late reading this addictive novel, and my only regret is that now I will have to wait an eternity to find out what’s next for El and her friends.

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I really liked the synopsis of this book and it did not disappoint! The main character was extremely likeable, she was sarcastic and determined. And the whole new magic system was great and I cannot wait for the next book!

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Have you ever sat down to read a book with plans of writing notes as you go, for the purpose of reviewing? Then, in the end, you’ve written nothing because you devoured the book and are considering a reread the second after you finished it. That’s where I was with this book. I feel 2020 has been a good year for me choosing the perfect books to read and I’m freaking delighted I got an early copy of this. Honestly, I’d trade my soul for a physical arc.

Galadriel and Orion... Those Names!

Our main and point of view character is Galadriel. Yes, her name is Galadriel, yes, that’s awesome. Yes, there’s a specific Lord of the Rings mention in this. Yes, I was delighted and geeked out a little bit. El was a fantastic strong, female character who was not interested in taking any crap. In fact, she so didn’t want to take any crap that she usually caused herself more problems with her stand-offish and often aggressive attitude. Frankly, I related hard to this, so it just made me love her more. In public, it takes all my willpower not to glare and tell people to back off. Usually in more colourful language. Language like El occasionally uses.

El’s character arc was glorious, and as the story was told from her point of view, we got to see it via her thoughts and feelings. I appreciated reading her internal struggles of being nice vs. her instinct of pushing everyone away and how she tried to balance it, and frequently failed. El is inherently flawed, and those flaws are what I loved, related to and had me cheering her on the whole time. It’s also worth mentioning that El is half-Indian, half-Welsh and that makes for a fascinating backstory.

We’ve also got Orion. Your everyday, magical, knight in shining armour. Apart from the fact, he’s really not. Yeah, he’s got the saving people down to a fine art. The suave, sweep you off your feet after it? Not so much. Orion kind-of reminded me of a puppy Labrador or golden retriever. He’s got a good heart, but he’s absolutely clueless. And I loved him for it. I worried at first it was going to be the cliché character, but he really wasn’t and it was interesting to follow, not so much his development, but the development of how those around him treated him just because he saved people and had a privileged background but didn’t act like anyone expected.

Magic and Monsters

The world that Naomi Novik has built for The Deadly Education is fantastic, and my favourite thing about this whole book. The fact the school itself is almost a character I could’ve listed above, the way there are no teachers but the school can handle things perfectly well itself. That, and the way the magic works.

Magic isn’t necessarily easy to pick-up - you have to study, and study very hard. You have to learn multiple languages if you want a variety of spells, you have to work your ass off just for survival, you have to hope the school grants you good spells, or at least spells worthy of trade. I could’ve read another 100 pages just about the spells and magic. It was fascinating to me; I wanted to just read about what spells people had obtained, which languages they were in and what it was worthy of trading for.

On the subject of the school, the description was great. I always felt like I could picture the exact environment around El, including the variety of monsters hiding around the corner or in the dark recess of a room.

Essentially, I just need more of these characters, this world, this book. And the way it ended made me need book 2 even more. I’m super excited to see what’s coming next, and also... I wonder what merch there will be?

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I get a lot aka most of my book recommendations from social media, so when everyone on book twitter started hyping up Naomi Novik's new novel I knew it was time to jump on the bandwagon. I've previously read Spinning Silver also by Novik and loved it, Uprooted has been on my tbr list for an age so I was so excited to read this!

A Deadly Education is one of those incredible novels where even though you've only read a few chapters you just know you're going to devour the whole thing. This is a pretty fast paced book, though I did find that there was a bit of an info dump throughout the book but I guess with a new series and one where there's a magical element, it's kinda needed. We do get to learn about how The Scholomance works, the magic system and the climate/world outside of the school, basically life in Novik's new world is brutal. I hope this is explored in the rest of the series though

I found A Deadly Education to be really well written though a very different style to Spinning Silver (the only other Naomi Novik book I've read), I also I really enjoyed the world building. Like I mentioned before, there's a lot happening in this book and it can be a little hard to keep track off but the world building is very intricate and sets up the rest of the series. 

I'll be honest, I did not know what to expect with this book, I thought it would be some sort of Hogwarts/St Trinian's  mix up. Where everybody's a Slytherin and off battling dementors everyday. Hogwarts it is not, this is dark academia (I googled dark academia and feel fairly confident A Deadly Education falls under this category/there are dark academia vibes at least!), life at The Scholomance is merciless, only half of the seniors survive graduation! A lot does happen in this story, the characters are constantly on the go but I'm also really interested in what'll happen in the next book.

Galadriel or El as she prefers is the brilliantly strong and incredibly rude main character, normally I can't stand rudeness but you can't help but love and root for her. My  heart breaks for El (can we talk about how fab her name is!) she is so lonely and Novik did a great job of this, you can practically taste her longing to belong. I enjoyed reading the snippets from her childhood as I think it helps us to understand why she acts and thinks the way she does. El is very funny, she has this snarky/sarcastic kinda humour that I love. I love how her character develops and her developing friendships. The Scholomance is very cut throat so it's nice to see genuine friendships develop from being reluctant allies and using each other to actual friends. 

There's not a lot of romance in this book, which for once I'm quite happy about. There was a little hint at the end of the book which sets it up nicely for the rest of the series, I'm not sure this is even a trope but I'm feeling a reluctant allies to possible lovers vibes though! 

Novik's take on the magical school trope is brilliant and I have very high hopes for the rest of the series, 4 STARS.

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Wow. This was something a little bit different and very delightful!

I found the writing style pacey and was dragged swiftly into a first hand account of El's experience at a very unique, and somewhat terrifying, boarding school for magicians. This school is something 'special' and definitely not what you would expect if you are looking for something Potter-esque. Think more along the lines of a vicious magical Hunger Games with less adult supervision, less desire to kill your peers (unless you prefer to suck your magic from living things) and more teamwork (sometimes). El is somewhat unique in that she is effectively a magical 'vegetarian' which is a fun side-theme to the story as other students begin to realise that she is not as bad as she comes across, just a little socially inept.

It was an absolute pleasure to read and had me laughing out loud, cringing in empathy and wishing I could read more immediately.

See my full review on a little closer to the release date!

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I went into this book with very few expectations beyond 'magical school' so I was kind of expecting a dark academia sort of story with floppy-haired sorcerers brooding on plush armchairs - so it was a pleasant surprise to discover that this book was...something else. 

One of the most significant things I found was that this book doesn't start with a 'freshman' character. At the point where the book starts El is only a couple of years away from graduation, I liked this because it means the story could go to different places, El already knows what's what, we get to see her navigate the halls with a degree of confidence. The book is written in first person so I imagine it would have been pretty devoid of substance if we were learning everything at the same pace as the narrator!  I'll be interested to see how many books we get in this series since in theory the next year is El's graduation year but time will tell!

This setting was incredibly cool. I will say I got a little confused by the layout of things at first but gradually I managed to understand this strange rotating school that gradually lowers it's classes towards the graduation hall. The fact that any pipe, vent, or crack in anything could contain a lurking creature ready to kill the unsuspecting student was really well done. Naomi Novik manages to convey the exhausting effects of being constantly on guard against potential death and I really felt for the characters. What I thought was also well done was the way that Novik conveys the benefits of the scholomance - otherwise I think I would have spent the entire book wondering why on earth anyone would choose to go there?

The magic was also very cool. It was a fairly hard magic system, though you don't get a blow by blow account of how all magic works it does get explained fairly well. I liked the way that spells were another thing students could barter and the development of new spells throughout the book was very cool. I won't spoil it but I think this will be good for booklovers (without being a book about books). 

One thing I will touch on is the recent discourse about non POC authors writing books from the perspective of a character of colour. In this case El is biracial and (as far as I a aware) this is not an ownvoices representation. I don't think the rep was damaging in any way but I thought it would be remiss not to mention, and those looking for stories that go more into the lived experience of people who are biracial might find this lacking. Obviously I'm a white lady so can't comment on this from any position of authority and, as always, urge you to seek out the opinions of ownvoices reviewers. 

This book is a fun story, I liked the characters, I even enjoyed the romance (it's not a big focus of the book but it was fun). I loved being inside El's head as she was just so delightfully cynical and grumpy - I could relate. The one thing missing, and it has been missing from every Naomi Novik book I've read, was LGBTQIA+ representation. You have a whole school of kids and not one mention of anyone LGBTQIA+? Or if there was it was blink and miss it. I still really enjoyed the book but I will keep singing 'it should have been gay' until the end of time. I'm not asking for tokenistic representation I just feel like if you're going to put out a magical school story in 2020 there had better be some queer youth...

Overall I would say this book is worth reading, and I'll certainly keep reading the series - the setting is what makes it amazing so if you want to read a truly unique magical school then I humbly place this recommendation at your feet!

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley - all opinions are my own. 

A Deadly Education is out September 29th

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I was thoroughly disappointed by this book. I thought it was going to be something it wasn’t, and what made it worse was the fact that it had all the potential and all the right kicks in the story but it felt like it was missing something.

The book sounded good and on paper it sounds like completely my thing, and i’m not joking when I say I screamed when I was approved for this! But it was SUCH boring book. We’re stuck in the perspective of one character which isn’t bad, but it just feels like it wasn’t edited. Like one stream of consciousness, and at times it jumped and felt purposefully confusing. Like we’d meet a character and not know anything about them and then later we would hear something more about them and who they are etc. But what really got to me was the definitions of the magic based language. It was used over and over again before being defined and clarified what it meant leaving you in a state of weird confusing wondering if you’d missed something when you hadn’t.

Like dark magic? Amazing. School that tries to kill you whilst you study there? Amazing. Sorceress with the potential to be the most powerful evil witch of all time? Sign me up! But what really annoys me is that the book felt way too short for the amount of content and the concept it was trying to set up. Like it’s a strange conundrum of not being edited enough but also not expanding on the story and helping it achieve it’s full potential, Though it’s not all doom and gloom. The last 20% of the book was actually really fun and it did pick up, and i’m looking forward (albeit, sceptically) to the next book. Because the ending did end on a slight cliff-hanger and intrigue me slightly towards the next entry in the series.

The book is just too small for the story it’s trying to tell. Like when i saw it was just over 300 pages I was like, “oh”. As in, this could either be a really great slim-lined dark academia book or it could feel extremely thin and empty. Unfortunately as I was nearing the end of the first chapter, it already felt like it was the later and it just got worse and worse. Like it’s not a bad book?? but it’s also not a good book and it just felt disappointing especially from such a well renown author. But who knows remember this book isn’t actually published so things can change from the time I read it to release you never know! Also you might enjoy it was more than I did! and if you did i’d love to hear your thoughts about it

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I have been anticipating this book, having heard lots about it. It did not disappoint! Like a dark Harry potter, with a feminist twist. I will be getting the illumicrate edition, and it will live on my most loved shelf! Highly recommend, you can't miss this one

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Just fantastic. Like Harry Potter from a Slytherin's perspective - but also something wholly original and unique. Yes, there is lots of complex world-building and passages of description - but the world is so amazing that I ended up enjoying some of those bits the most. The final sentence had my reeling. Novik is a genius.

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The Scholomance is a school for wizards where everything is trying to kill you and the only way to graduate is to survive a hall full of wizard eating monsters. Everyone spends their time collecting the best spells and items and making alliances.
I really enjoyed this. I wasn't sure if it was going to end up being a bit 'Harry Potter for grownups' but it's fun, and dark and has a really interesting world and magic system. The two main characters are a bit unlikable in completely different ways (as are a lot of the other characters) and it made for some really fun interactions between them and everyone else. It was really interesting to see how the characters behaved in a world where being out for yourself was the norm and the idea of 'the greater good' was dangerous and possibly harmful to others.
I had a good idea of where the plot and characters were heading about halfway in but it didn't spoil the rest of the book as that often can.
I'm hoping that there will be a sequel.

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A magical school unlike any other, where there are no teachers, no rules, no parents, sounds great, doesn't it?

Oh, did I forget to mention the cliques that could literally spell life or death if you don't get invited to join? Or the fact that once in the school you can't leave until graduation (which is an event that makes 'The Hunger Games' a walk in the park), and the fact that there are monsters lurking down every dark corridor, waiting to enter your nightmares or maybe even pop out of the book you are reading.

Galadriel, or El, is the prickly social misfit with a secret or two is navigating her way through the school. Determined not to give in to the lure of dark magic or let her defences down and make friends she is forced to reassess her prejudices when she is targetted by one of the more privileged students. Woven into the plot are themes that examine power and social hierarchy, diversity and injustice, peer pressure and self-esteem. It's cleverly done and El is a fantastic MC that I really liked.

There's a brilliant cliff hanger of an ending and I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

My thanks go to the publishers and Netgalley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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This is a fun read that is a mash-up of Harry Potter (and the magic school genre), Mean Girls for the wonderfully snarky El, and books like The Hunger Games/Divergent. I first came to Novik via her Temeraire books which I love (love!) but I'd say this is very different: it doesn't have the same depth of characterisation or the solid historical foundation that made those books so addictive - this new world floats in the 'void' which means that students have read 'Lord of the Flies', say, and generally speak English so it's more or less a generic fantasy world with contemporary overtones.

This definitely feels like the opener in a planned series: there's lots of scene-setting and laying out of information that the reader needs to orient themselves. At times these info-bulletins hold up the action and are even placed mid-speech: at 80%, for example, just as someone is about to unfold a dastardly plan, the narrative stops for 3 pages to explain the absence/presence of academic ranking boards... There is also a... not quite cliff-hanger ending, but one which is designed to overturn what has developed in this book in preparation for the next.

For me, this feels YA - it's fun, especially the narrative voice, so if you fancy a darker Hogwarts with a snarky, sparky female lead then go for it!

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A Deadly Education is a well written story, as a fantasy reader, I loved to falling deep into its pages. Secrets, magic, romance, and surprises make this a great start to the beginning of a new series. There is plenty of breathtaking action full of plot twists.

The story of Galadriel, Orion, their classmates, and makeshift alliances pulls you deep into this young adult fantasy. The world A Deadly Education takes place in is easily built around the reader as you flip through the pages. No detail is left out as the main character does a great job of explaining every situation. There’s almost too much explanation for my liking. While I am one to appreciate background detail I found myself skimming through pages waiting for the story to pick back up again. Once it did I was immediately drawn back into the

This was the first book in the series and while I did feel it dragged on in a few spots, I find myself intrigued to see what happens next for Galadriel & Orion.

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Uprooted may be my favourite book by Novik but this is a very close 2nd and one that I know I will enjoy again and again. I love the character El that is sassy, violent and trying to stay as untainted as humanly possible even though it would be so easy to turn dark for her. I love that the male lead is more of a bumbling hero than the ultra-perfect alpha male type guy that a lot of books use (nothing wrong with them but this is just refreshing). I love how it doesn't centre around a relationship and is more about how El plans to survive and the dangers they have to face daily to survive and graduate.

I didn't like the cliffhanger but it was more because I knew I would have to wait forever for the next to come out!

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