Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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Member Reviews

This is my first Naomi Novik book and I got super intrigued by the premise as soon as I heard it. But the book itself fell short of my expectations although the world Novik came up with is fascinating.

Deadly Education has the setting of a magical school where there’s no teacher and no guarantee you will make it out alive to graduation. The world in this book is brilliant but also very complex and Novik does dump a lot of information on us from the get go and I’m not gonna lie, I was very confused for the first 20% of the book. Names of creatures and such are thrown out like I’m supposed to know what it all means right away but it takes a bit of time and more story to really grasp it all - once you do, totally worth it though!

I liked our MC, Galadriel, enough as well as the side characters. The main love interest was a bit meh and the chemistry between him and Galadriel is a bit of a strange one to be honest but I could end up rooting for them depending on how it evolves in the sequel.

The story in itself was okay - I liked certain parts and was indifferent to others. I was disappointed by the ending as I imagined something bigger but I can’t hold it against Novik as it is only the first book in a series and she therefore needs to keep the more exciting stuff for later.

To conclude I can say I enjoyed Deadly Education but expected more from it and was left a bit disappointed. I will probably continue on with the series as I really want to see what Novik decides to do with some elements revealed in this first instalment.

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A Deadly Education captured my imagination right from the start. I loved the premise of a more deadly kind of magical school, and El came across well as a character. I felt an instant affinity for her and became caught up in her story, wondering how things would turn out. The pacing of the book was nicely handled, with plenty of action and adventure propelling the story forward, alongside good development of the principal characters. The world building was beautifully realised without unnecessary info dumping, and I appreciated the subtle twist at the end that left me keen to know what would happen next. Fans of Novik's writing will definitely love this new work, and anyone who enjoys magical adventures in a school setting, with a dark twist, should also check it out. A solid 4.5 stars from me.

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A totally immersive and thrilling read. Exactly what I would expect from Naomi and a great start to a new series.

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This book was one of my top 5 most anticipated of the year. I was so ready to love it. After all, this is the same author who wrote one of my favourite books, Spinning Silver.
The amount of thought and care that went into the worldbuilding is exceptional and was, undoubtedly, where this book shined. However, the explanations needed to know what was going on where dumped paragraphs upon paragraphs throughout the whole book, which made it tedious for me, as the reader.
There was just so much information that actions were constantly being interrupted. Not that a lot was happening. I found the plot lacking. It felt like you were only reading about the world and not the characters. And that combination made me bored at the start. But, after knowing more about the characters, and getting a grasp on how the school worked, I became wholly invested in the story.
I was surprised to find that this book was indeed YA and not adult, like her other works. The setting was a magical school, not a university, which wasn't what I expected. Also, even though the main character, El, meets the love interest at the beginning, nothing happened until the last chapter. But, it's set up very well for the next book (*fingers crossed*).
It saddens me that this could have been a new favourite if the info-dumping wasn't so severe. A category I still hope the sequels will reach, because I'm hugely excited for them after THAT cliffhanger.

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absolutely loved this! This is about how our heroine’s life goes through a total turn about in the space of a year. The setting of the school was so well thought out and absolutely nothing like Hogwarts! El (Galadriel) is a girl I thoroughly empathised with from the beginning, although I’m not sure what that says about me! Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.

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This was my first time reading anything by Naomi Novik and I was pleasantly surprised. The concept of this book was so interesting to me and I think Novik executed it quite well. It was a refreshing take on the magic school concept which made it very enjoyable for me.

The pacing of the book was a bit of an issue for me as I felt like the explanations the author would make in the middle of a scene to give us some backstory kind of took me out of the scene and by the time I was back in the present I forgot some of what was going on. With that being said, it was nice to be given such an extensive knowledge of the world to completely understand what was happening.

I'm looking forward to continuing with the series and seeing where Novik goes with the story. I would definitely recommend reading this book.

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With thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.

I absolutely loved this book and read it in two sessions, only because at 2am I was too tired to stay awake!

It has everything I enjoyed in Uprooted and Spinning Silver; a fast pace, fantastic world building, characters that I’d like to know and a conclusion that leaves me more wanting more because I don’t want the story to have ended. I’m so glad that this is book 1 in the Scholomance
series and I’ll be waiting eagerly for the next book in the series.

El is in her second to last year at the Scholomance; a loner, desperately trying to work out how to make a strong enough alliance to survive graduation, and even, how to survive the monsters infesting the school until then. It makes for riveting reading (the same as Uprooted and Spinning Silver) and the characters and story will continue to resonate long after the story is finished.

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4-4.5 stars

I’m a bit dithery over that rating, take it as 4.25 if that helps! I just about devoured this book whenever I could and it made for tasty reading. The Scholomance was a school like you’ve never imagined, a school trying to kill its pupils with brimming magic, a void and tonnes of deadly creatures.

This was a witty read and that really surprised me. We’ve definitely seen shades of Novik’s sarcastic humour through Uprooted but this story had a lighter, laugh-out-loudness to it. I thought the whole concept of The Scholomance (the boarding school for wizards) was unique. Add to that the snarkiest heroine I’ve read in a while in Galadriel (El) and it was hard for this book to put a foot wrong.

"When I want to straighten my room, I get instructions on how to kill it with fire."

Odd right? Spells didn’t flow in the expected way for her, but Galadriel was not a conventional wizard by Scholomance pupil standards, she was quietly and covertly exceptional. I loved reading about her systems, her talents and the languages she was studying. Most of all, I enjoyed reading her growth in friendships. El was almost made perfect with her use of British swears. I can say that Novik wrote a Brit (she was actually Welsh) particularly well.

The begrudging friendship/white knight (not needed) in Orion made for hilarity and chuckling. It was hard not to like Orion despite his saviour complex but there’s definitely more to unpack with him and I’m so glad we hopefully get to do that in the next book.

“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.”

The heirarchies in the school were something else and the void was just nausea-inducing to me. This truly was the school of nightmares and I wouldn’t last more than a minute in there! I simply cannot wait for the next instalment. And so I leave you with my favourite line (kudos to Jane Eyre here).

"Reader, I ran the fuck away."

Thank you to Cornerstone/Random House for the early review copy.

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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Deadly Education is the first book I’ve ever read by the famous author Naomi Novik. After falling in love with this eerie story, I can guarantee you that I’ll be looking forward to reading more of her work, especially the sequel to this book; that ending left me with a lot of questions!

A Deadly Education follows the story of Galadriel who, alongside her fellow wizards, studies at the Scholomance; which is a very dangerous and magical school full of monsters. At the Scholomance, sitting alone in the cafeteria or even walking to your classes by yourself is a terrible idea because maleficaria lurks everywhere and they are drawn to wizards’ magic.

In order to survive until graduation, which is when they will fight against all the monsters who weren’t able to get inside the school, Galadriel and everyone else spend their time with schoolwork; learning as many spells they can in different languages, trading stuff and finding themselves some allies for their graduation.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this one before and I think that’s what made me love it even more; the Scholomance is very peculiar school. One of the things I loved about A Deadly Education was the definitely the beginning; I absolutely loved they way it started, it made me laugh out loud!

Galadriel and Orion are without a doubt my favorite characters. Galadriel is sarcastic, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind, doesn’t care what people think of her and she doesn’t like to be saved; she could totally do that herself. Meanwhile Orion is the total opposite: he is kind, patient and tries to save as many students as he can, but his actions are having a negative effect in the school.

While Galadriel isn’t popular and does not have as many friends as those around her, she’s actually a very powerful wizard. I’m really look forward to read more about her magical abilities in the next book! And I also think there’s something Orion isn’t saying and I really want to know what that is, lol, I really want to read the sequel now!

Overall, A Deadly Education is a fascinating must read; it was a marvelous story from beginning to end. I can’t wait for you all to meet Galadriel and Orion, they are wonderful characters. And Naomi’s writing style, just like her book, was magical.

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Blog post live on August 31st.

I think that this book is definitely going to be a love it or hate it kind of book. I absolutely adored it but I think for some people the narrative style just isn’t going to work. It is unusual, but I found myself totally drawn into it and I can’t wait for the rest of the series, not just because I need to know what happens next but because I kind of miss El’s perspective already. To me the narrative feels a lot like a stream of consciousness – or like the haphazard way that I tell stories. It feels very personal, like El is talking to you as the reader, and as she’s relaying what’s happening she will slide into stories about her past that relate to what’s happening. It means the worldbuilding is a little heavy at the start, but I think it works with the idea that El is telling you about her life and I think Naomi Novik did a really good job of making sure that the story never wandered so far off that I lost track of what was happening before.

The narrative style also worked really well for me because I absolutely adored El. I kept joking before I got the review copy that with her sharing my name and having destructive magic, I was guaranteed to love El. Well. I was right. By the end of A Deadly Education I felt like I was friends with El and hitting the last page of the book pained me. She wasn’t what I was expecting from seeing the book marketed as ‘girl with destructive magic at terrifying murder school’ but I actually liked her better than I thought. El could commit atrocities. She could easily walk out of the school without a scratch, and all it would cost her is a little murder. It would be easy for her. But she doesn’t want to do that. Instead she makes her like three times harder to do things right. It’s almost aspirational, even if I did desperately want to see her do something hugely destructive (I like powerful women, okay).

This book was tropey as hell in SUCH a good way. Fake dating. Accidentally dating. Chosen One. And the school itself is just about the coolest (scariest) idea I could imagine. It’s a school for magical students where the students are trapped until they graduate, and the only way to leave is to walk through the graduation hall. Which just happens to be full of monsters that want to kill students. So ‘learning’ at the school isn’t exactly a structured curriculum, but a concentrated effort to learn enough to get out alive, or to be useful enough that someone else gets you out alive. Add in that the school is sentient and exists in the void and it might just be the school from hell. I can’t wait for the next book, because the end of A Deadly Education had me literally gasping out loud.

The only thing that seemed a little off to me was that the main character is biracial (Welsh-Indian) but while it was mentioned once or twice, it didn’t feel like it really showed in the text at any point? I’m white, so it’s not something that I can really comment on, but I hope ownvoices Indian and Indian-British/Welsh reviewers are getting to read this because I’d love to read their take on the character. It didn’t feel like bad representation to me, but equally, it didn’t feel like her Indian heritage was really represented at all so I hope it wasn’t just put in for diversity’s sake.

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I'm giving 5 stars to my girl El because she deserves every single one of them!

"Yes, now I was worrying I'd be turned to the dark side by too much crochet."

I've started this review several times, always with, I love this book because...and then about ten things immediately spring to mind.

So, instead, I'm going to start at the beginning.

I loved the premise. The synopsis grabbed me instantly and I couldn't wait to dig in.

But, it took me a little while to get really into the book. I knew that I liked it, but I wasn't really sure why. Then, it did a complete one-eighty on me the more I got to know El.

I'll be honest, in terms of actual plot, not a great deal does happen BUT this is the first book in the series, and it's clear that there's a lot of setup going on AND we do get fantastic world building, character building and really great monsters.

El though is my new hero. I absolutely love her, and might also be a little in love with her. It's really not often that you're introduced to a morally good character that's also incredibly powerful, witty, stubborn and 100% interesting.

"I love having existential crises at bedtime, it's so restful."

It's El who makes this book worth reading, and I love the humour she brings while at the same time bringing a lot of heart to the book, making you really care for and root for her.

The premise is fantastic - it's a school that almost tries to kill you!

"The school has to be fed somehow."

I love that the traditional "hero" trope in this book is turned on its head and I just love the dynamic between El and Orion. Think Legolas and Gimli, but a little more frank.

"Lake, I hate you more than words can possibly express."

The secondary characters are also fantastic and add a lot of unexpected humour, tension and drama to the plot.

"Mom told me that all boys are carrying a secret pet mal in their underwear, and if you get alone with them they let it out."

As the tension and danger built throughout the book, I really wondered how it was going to end but it was great, with just enough tension to keep me hanging on for the next one.

Overall, a fantastic start to a new fantasy series! I can't wait for the next instalment!

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This book is set solely in a magic school where you either graduate or die trying. There are no teachers, no rules, you look after yourself. The premise sounds like a bad dream to be thrown into,  but in the very best way for a book plot. It reminds me a bit of the horror in Spirited Away when that poor kid lands herself in a right mess away from parents, rules or logic.

The big thing I would say about this book being set purely in a school is it feels very isolated. We aren't talking Hogwarts where there's constantly a new magical corridor to explore, we're talking more the schools you and I would know from our own educations. The main locations we saw were a few classrooms, the cafeteria, toilets and bedrooms. Novik did a good job of making the reader feel as trapped as the students do, but I found it made the story quite stretched out and at times repetitive.

This book is the first in a series and certainly felt like an introduction book. This whole book was setting up the characters, the world, the school, which I get is the point of a first book, but it just felt a bit too much. I wanted the story to get on and get moving, but instead, I felt I was reading a user manual for the world Novik was creating. Not to say this is a bad thing, as I did enjoy this book and reading about the weird world it is set in. But I just felt myself willing it to end a few times because it did get a bit boring in the middle.

I really liked the concept of every student learning a different type of spell and different languages etc. Being teacherless this school teaches the kids itself by providing them with library books they may or may not have wanted and making pictures on the wall come alive to demonstrate certain types of monsters. It added a certain level of humour to the book that you can't entirely pick what you study and to a certain extent you get what you're given.

Galadriel is our main character, who yes, is named after Tolkien's Galadriel, which I love a lot. It's a subtle reference that is picked up on a few times in the book and it made me happy. I'd say she's a fairly average character, isn't well-liked, doesn't quite know why, wants to survive, will do what it takes. She definitely grew on me, but she never wowed me. She is morally grey and has a dark side that she is trying to silence, which makes her interesting in terms of what her motivations are. I'd be intrigued to see how this is explored in future books.

And finally, the monsters. There are so many different types of worrying creatures in this book and honestly, I got a bit lost with what they were all meant to look like. But the general idea of never really being able to rest for fear of being killed viciously by an evil creature is conveyed quite successfully in this book. I felt the pressure and the tension and the instability of these students.

Overall, whilst I did enjoy this book, it was just missing something. I'm not so sure what that was, but I wanted a bit more from it that I didn't get. Perhaps further books in the series will pick up on the action and variation if we get out of the school setting.

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A dark twisted magical school story, set around a girl who has the power to become a dark sorceress - and is only held back by the need to not disappoint her mother.

I didnt know what I was expecting from Naomi Novik - it seems like every time I pick up a book from her she has surprised me - the writing impeccable, the characters lovable yet flawed in the most human of ways.
And yet, always different - always new.
And a Deadly Education did stray from her norm.

This book has everything.
Humor (dark and twisted but humor none the less) comradery which turn to friendship, a magic system based on balance - and a completely different view on the classic magic school.

El as a main character who is deemed able to do great evil but is literally held back because she does not want to disappoint her mother. And Orion is the classic Hero of All, and yet. So much more then that. Both of them are.

I have a hard time finding the right words for the this book. So I am going to give you five which have stuck in my mind since I finished this masterpiece.

Exceptionally written - with a main character who confounds you in the best of ways.
Gut punching when you least expect it.
And over all brilliant.

El is unlike any main character I have read about in a long time - give me a dash of courage, a no nonsense mind, and a need for belonging and a prophercy which deems her the next big evil.

And then put her in a magic school that is trying to kill her.

I think the only bad thing I can say about this book is that I wish it was longer.
I loved every second, every inch of this book and cannot wait to find out what comes next.
I know Novik will not disappoint.

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I’m a huge fan of Naomi Novik and this book did not disappoint. This is such an interesting take on the idea of a magic school and Novik pulls the rug out from underneath you at every possible turn. I fell in love with Galadriel from the very first line - I love a morally conflicted Hero/Anti-hero - and I cannot wait for the second one!

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DNF at 42%

I wasn’t in love with Novik’s previous books, but I really liked the idea for this one so I gave it another go. It didn’t live up.

This narration is bogged down with so much exposition, and it was way too much. Our main character will be fighting monsters or threatening to kill someone, but all of a sudden she will go into her backstory, or go into extreme detail about the school or the magic system. It doesn’t help how the characters were one dimensional.

The idea doesn’t work. It sounds cool, but the world building was wishy-washy.

And there is no plot. Nothing happens, and there is no tension because I’m not invested in anything.

I think I should give up on Novik.

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I didn't really know what to expect going into A Deadly Education, but I came out of it knowing that I should never doubt Naomi Novik. I was a big fan of Uprooted and Spinning Silver and whilst this book has a slightly different tone and a younger feel to it than those others, it is still delightful and whimsical and imaginative.

Galadriel or "El" is one angsty teen with a talent for mass destruction. She, like all other wizards of her ages, is trapped in Scholomance to graduate or die. Demons and monsters called "mals" dog her every step. They lurk under your desk, hide in the food, and when you lose your attention, even for just a second, they pounce and you die. El is just trying to survive, but Orion is determined to save everyone. When their two paths cross, Orion takes a shine to El because she's the only one to treat him like a person, rather than a cardboard cut of a hero that everyone worships.

Above the characters, who a bit flat, and the story line, I loved the ideas. A school hidden in the void with monsters clawing to get in. A school that will teach you the spells you ask for, but might give them to you in a language you don't know. And if you don't know, you'd better learn. The idea of using mana that must be generated by effort - in El's case this is either pushups or crochet - or drawing from the life around you, is a fairly cut and dried case of "light" versus "dark" but it's done so well.

Then there's the whole concept of alliances and friendships found, a theme that always tugs at my heart. El has been a loner because she has nothing to offer the enclaves - groups of wizards that are kind of like clan, a hub of power that can pool their mana together for their members to draw on - and is very offputting to the non-enclave kids. But in scholomance, to do anything alone is to taunt death. And so El does nothing but sit in her room and study and do push ups. Until she finds a couple of friends :)

Lastly, there's the good ol' powerful vs weak, old power vs new power, light vs dark, rich vs poor theme. The haves against the have nots. El, unsurprisingly, is a have not. She's not rich, she doesn't have allies, and it shows. She doesn't have a collective mana pool to draw from, she gets to lunch last and the food is terrible, and any maintenance requests she puts in are tossed. Unless she finds a powerful group fast, she gonna die come graduation day. Orion is a haver. And he is noble and righteous (and his character is also as flat as a paper bag, I mean for real!) but it takes El to start to open his eyes to the injustice and inequality. It's a classic theme but it's nicely done.

A couple of things I didn't like. Tonally, this book felt very YA: magic school, the power of friendship, an outcast girl who finds some outcast friends and hates the popular kids. But then there are characters calling each other tw*ts. So you know. The ending was a bit naff and most of the characters except for El felt very flat and I couldn't decide whether that was on purpose or not.

Either way, A Deadly Education was a great read that I devoured in a couple of days. It was just what I needed to reboot my love of reading after labouring through some really slow books recently.

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well... where do I even start with this book.

I've never actually read anything by Naomi Novik (always meant to, but never actually got round to it). But, when I read the description for this one I knew it was going to be a winner.

The premise of a school that you either graduate or die, sounds a bit far-fetched/over the top, but Novik does a great job of making it palatable and interesting. I really liked the idea that there was no authority too.

The main character is a wonderful blend of intelligence, sharp wit and she's pretty funny too! Novik develops her character well throughout the book.

There is a lot of explanation about the world in which the book is set, which could, for some people be a bit much, but I think it's setting up the rest of the series really well. And I loved the world Novik creates in this book, so I was happy to read the endless desription!

All in all - excellent. I'm so looking forward to reading more!!

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Novik took the world of magic and fantasy and turned it on its head. A Deadly Education completely reworks all the 'magic school' tropes and arises at a perfect time to challenge the world of Harry Potter. I still don't fully understand the Scholomance world, but this didn't stop me falling in love with it or desperately wanting more.

I loved having a main character who isn't perfect. Galadriel was relatable and lovable, her struggle with her own darkness was a beautiful part of the story as well as her struggle against people's conceptions of her. I just loved her and can't wait to delve deeper into her story.

I could write about this book for days - there is nothing that I didn't like. Novik is an incredible writer and with the final line of the book delivered a blow that had me screaming. I am desperate to read the second instalment and the first hasn't even been released yet.

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I read this book so fast that I could read it again straight after and I LOVED IT. & I am so grateful to netgalley for the proof!


Naomi Novik is a totally splendid wonderful writer.

IT WAS EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED. It’s what Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On should’ve been

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I’d never heard of the author before but really wanted to read this because I loved the premise. It sounded crazy, my kind of crazy. A Deadly Education sounded like a dark version of Harry Potter at a school with no teachers and where being killed or tortured in horrible ways is a real possibility multiple times a day. Oh and if you fail to graduate you die in a horrible and likely painful way. Why wouldn’t you want to read something so crazy? I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and dark and everything in between. I look forward to the next book in the series. The only thing that spoiled the book a little for me is that the chapters are really long.

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