Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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“The Scholomance isn’t precisely a real place… It only works because it was built into the void.”

CW: Death, murder, injury

Probably best to start with the magic, right, seeing as that’s from what the rest of the book stems? I really enjoyed the magic system in this book; Naomi Novik created her own magic for this book, rather than relying on one that already existed. There’s no waving wands and robes and magic that always exists and is waiting to be summoned; students have to work for magic in this. It’s not an infinite supply, it’s something that you need to create and store for when you need it most. It’s also something that’s constantly changing and growing, with new spells appearing when they’re needed and old ones disappearing when they’re not.
The magical creatures are also completely new too, but so vividly created that you can see them – why fear dragons and werewolves when these lot have to deal with metal spiders, gloopy creatures that swallow you but never quite kill you, and some weird hyena hybrid?
And, of course, the school. Pictured above is just a glimpse of one of the maps that form the end pages of the hardback copies of the book (one: that I didn’t know existed until Tuesday; and two: that I’ve already fallen in love with). They look like utter nonsense on their own, but as part of the whole story, they’re so clever.
I remember the first time I heard about this, it was sold as dark, feminist Harry Potter, and I think that’s wrong? It’s unfair for every magic school story to be labelled as the ‘something’ Harry Potter – can’t they just be their own thing? Especially because, in my opinion, this is better. Or, at the very least, different. Maybe my judgement on Harry Potter isn’t the most unbiased at the moment, but eh, I don’t really care what JKR feels.
Hogwarts is a magic school: it teaches spells and potions, it has cloaks and hats and toads and a castle, with protections around it to make sure no one enters (apart from a certain Dark wizard). Scholomance, on the other hand, is less a magic school and more a…protective holding cell that isn’t doing a very job at protecting the students? It’s not actively trying to kill you, but it also won’t actively try to stop you from being killed. There are no teachers, no escape at the end of every year, barely enough food to scrape by with. Although it’s meant to teach you to use magic, it’s also built to protect you from your magic when it’s at its most dangerous.
Not to say, of course, that staying in the Scholomance is any easier than staying outside it. If you survive all the problems the school presents you with throughout your years, you still have to leave and that proves to have its own problems.
Friendships are a huge, central part to this book, not just because they make a person feel better but because they’re alliances. You need allies in every walk of life in this book – be that as simple as showering and eating dinner or in a more important sense like graduating. El’s spent most of her time at the school never quite finding her place or her people, until this year. There are two girls she’s always been on friendly terms with but doesn’t make friends with until it makes strategic sense for them. And there’s another, Orion, who El’s not really sure what her relationship is with him.
I really enjoyed Orion as a character (and, honestly, loved his name). He reminded me of a guard dog or something – immensely loyal, always wanting to save the save the day, but doing stupid things to get there. His relationship with El was really interesting and I look forward to seeing where it goes.
I also LOVED El. She was so interesting and such an usual protagonist. She was scared and just trying to get by, but she was brave and tried to help other people where possible. Let’s be honest, she was also stupidly stubborn sometimes, but I really loved her and I love how she narrated the book. An assortment of favourite lines include:
I’m the class tiramisu, you spanner. 
I certainly did feel myself again, namely violently irritated. 
Yes, now I was worrying that I’d be turned to the dark side by too much crochet. 
I love having existential crises at bedtime, it’s so restful. 
Obviously, I wanted to scream at her and set her whole enclave on fire, but that was just habit. 
...fell asleep to soft lulling murmur of voices singing of violent death in French. 
You overgrown lemming. 
You tragic blob of unsteamed pudding.
Reader, I ran the fuck away. 
I can easily say, when I went into this book, I didn’t know where it was going to go. Even when I was reading it, I didn’t know. But then it started going in that direction and it made so much sense and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was really clever! It was high stakes, but has still left us with a high stakes adventure for the sequel. Plus, that final line? I want the next book straight away!

Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of this for review.
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(4.5 stars) This was so good! I was in a (relative) slump before this, and it absolutely pulled me out with all the force of a yanker spell.

It didn't take long for me to get hooked into this book: the alternately dark and light humour, the protagonist's strong and complex character voice all framed by amazing worldbuilding of a very savage international boarding school in an even more dangerous world. I liked that Novik had clearly thought out why parents would willingly send their kids to such a high-risk school - you can tell Novik's one for detail! Magic always comes with a price, and I absolutely adored the magic system in this book. I really liked that while El is incredibly powerful, she is not over-powered like some other YA 'Chosen Ones'. El actually had so many restrictions on her powers that made it that much more believable, and shows the value of teamwork!

Exposition was done really well, built up in layers based on the information's relevance to El's current scene/situation. Novik strikes a good balance between introspection and more action-packed scenes, both of which I found tense for different reasons. Choices can be just as life-changing as getting eaten by a maw-mouth maleficaria (monster, basically)! That being said, sometimes sentences ran on and felt overlong, and I ended up having to reread them several times before either understanding or giving up and moving on. This was only a minor issue, though!

I just loved the characters too, especially El and Orion. They're so different yet kindred: lonely 'Chosen Ones' trapped by boxes that the people around them keep shunting over their heads. A great interrogation of the 'Chosen One' trope, questioning who chooses and what might happen if the chosen rejects that choice. El constantly grapples with her pride, thrown up as prickly armour around her softer centre that yearns to be loved and accepted for who she is. She reminded me of 'The Raven Cycle''s Ronan and Adam blended together, and I love those boys to bits! El's constant conflict between survival past graduation and keeping her dignity and integrity of self made for excellent internal drama.

The relationships between characters are written very well, from the tentative friendships blooming (a Golden Trio for a new age), quasi-enemies to lovers (GODDD I SHIP IT) and El's loving bond with her mum. I adored that El had a good relationship with her mum (I have been starved of this in YA) and that El's father's family had wanted to love her, when I'd expected the opposite.

The cast is ethnically and financially diverse, and I was glad that this wasn't token diversity either. There is a clear awareness of the class-based inequality in the ground upon which the Scholomance is built and the exploitative nature of the entire wizard-training system is highlighted. Power structures are perpetuated by the privileged and paid for in the blood of those less fortunate. Of course, the characters aren't simply split into enclavers (entitled 'bad guys') and non-enclavers (deserving 'good guys') - there's way more nuance than that.

Highly recommend for fans of the following:

- subversion of common fantasy tropes
- magical boarding schools
- fake dating
- found family
- social commentary
- rivals/enemies to lovers who alternately snipe at each other and save each other's lives
- and last, but not least, the Oblivious Idiots™ trope

I'm sure 'A Deadly Education' will be the first of many more Novik books. I NEED the sequel to this, especially after that ending!
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Firstly, a big thank you to the the publisher for sending me a copy of A Deadly Education to review via Netgalley!

A new book by Naomi Novik? Set in a dark and deadly magical school? AND the first in a series? Instant addition to my tbr. I had high expectations for A Deadly Education and it did not disappoint!

A Deadly Education takes place in the Scholomance, a deadly boarding school for people with magical powers. The school has no teachers and no access to the outside world — it’s a school where you must be on alert at all times, and walk in groups to avoid being attacked by the monsters that lurk in the halls and hide in classrooms. Each year, the school rotates the students down, closer and closer to the deadly graduation hall where they must fight their way back out. Having close friends in the Scholomance is a bad idea, unless you’re prepared to lose them, and the only way to survive graduation is to join an alliance, or, even better, an enclave.

Our main character, El, is the queen of sarcasm with an affinity for destruction, and is convinced that she doesn’t need anyone — although she does desperately need to join an alliance to have any hope of surviving graduation, which makes things difficult. She gets by through making trades with fellow students, and is generally reluctant to make friends, until her tentative alliance with two neighbouring students blossoms into the heartwarming beginning of a friendship. We also have a romance that is enemies-to-friends-to-maybe-something-more excellence, and which was as sweet as it was entertaining. El is irritated at Orion Lake, New York enclave member with a penchant for saving his fellow students, when he saves her life for the third time. She is determined to hate him, and certainly doesn’t want to become friends with him, but she remains completely oblivious to the fact that Orion does indeed like her. In other words, I loved their dynamic!

I did find that this book was slightly info-dumpy at times, especially at the beginning — it was a lot to take in without a lot of world-building, but once I got stuck in and really started to understand the dynamics of the school, I was completely and utterly addicted, and I was whizzing through it. A Deadly Education is so different in tone than what I’ve come to love and expect from Naomi Novik, but it was so fun and refreshing, and I’m excited for more.

Fast-paced, with high personal stakes, and filled to the brim with monsters of every kind, A Deadly Education sucked me in and would not spit me back out until the last page was turned. And even then, that last line had me desperate for more. I am so glad that this is the first book in a series, because that gives me the perfect excuse to reread it again before the sequel!
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A Deadly Education was not at all what I expected it to be, and I can see why it wont be for everyone, but the uniqueness of the writing style and Novik's ability to drag me head first into whatever world she builds made sure I left this one still a firm fan. El is not what you would call 'Likeable' she lives her life on the fringes, which for life in the Scholomance means risking her life 3-4 times a day. That is until the maddening good boy Orion saves her life for the second time ( not that they're counting)  and then starts sticking to her like glue. El is initially greatly annoyed by his presence, but soon realises she can work it to her advantage. She wants into an alliance and a Enclave invitation after graduation and Orion, golden Boy of the New York Enclave might be her way in. What starts as a wary alliance, soon blooms into a semi-reluctant friendship and El comes to realise that she may have more friends in the Scholomance than she realises... but also more enemies. 

El is a really unique perspective to read from in that the book is 75% her inner thoughts and her feeding you bits of information. Don't get me wrong, their is action and dialogue, but those parts are few and far between, I have never read a book with this much inner dialogue and I admit to being put off a little at first. But once you get to know El, Orion and the other kids in the Scholomance you feel inexplicably ties to them, no matter how little page space they actually get. 

Novik does something with El that few authors do, she allows her to be unforgiving , rude, prickly she didn’t try to fix her. Does she start to lay off a little towards the end? Yes, but not enough for her to be classed as likeable. She want's so much to be at the start, but she quickly realises there is a strength to people being wary of her. Everyone assumes she is using Malia (drawn from living beings who are more than likely killed in the process), the only problem is if El used even a little of it she could level mountains, cities with a click of her fingers. Instead she lives on a strict diet of Mana (formed from physical or mental exertion) which limits her powers to the city block kind of destruction. El and Orion's relationship had me in literal hysterics in parts

”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. You’re welcome again, by the way”

Dhe starts off unbelievably annoyed by his attention, even when that means more people start talking to her. But when she realises the truth of him, she realises that they are similar in a way, both being used for what they bring to the table and not who they are.

High school was the worst for most people, but imagine high school where you had to shower in pairs, with one person keeping watch for any Mals (demons) that are trying to kill you, where you have to check the food in the canteen before sticking your hands, or mouth anywhere near it, where sitting by yourself in the cafeteria can be a death sentence. So you would ask why people willingly send their children here right? You would be right in assuming it would be to weed out the weaker magic users, those not part of an alliance by graduation essentially become cannon fodder to the other groups fighting their way out on graduation day ( if you make it that far). Novik not only introduces us to both Mana and Malia users, but also different types of magic people specialise in which fits into three main categories: Incantation, alchemy and Artifice.

We get a lot of information, not just about what is happening in the Scholomance, but the outside world, insights into El's past and the history of magic users. I can see where some people would say it was a little dumpy and if I’m being honest I was close to DNF’ing in the first few chapters but I’m so glad I carried on. Novik is a rare talent who can give you enough information to completely immerse yourself in the world, past and present, whilst never loosing out on character interaction or growth. 

I did wonder when reading this how it would turn out to be a series, whether it would get a little monotonous, but Novik weaves little tit bits of information throughout the book so that when you get to the ending, where she throws a complete spanner in the works, you find yourself questioning every interaction and scene. I am unbelievable eager to get my hands on book two, and for anybody starting this one... get past chapter two and it will pick up I promise!
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I LOVED this book! It has magic, monsters and a surprisingly relatable protagonist - not to mention one of the best opening lines I've ever come across. I am so excited for the next book in the series!
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I am truly thankful, for the opportunity of reading this book, I have never read Novik before, and to be honest  her books never really felt like my type of read, I have perched on the cusp of reading a few, then at the last moment decided not to, so this was an opportunity put into my hand.

This book is the first in a new series called Scholomance, which first off as a World of Warcraft player, reminds me instantly of a dungeon, where you go and fight beasties and ghouls, which I think is a perfect explanation of this book, apert from , this Scholomance, is not a dungeon but a school.

Before i go any futher, this is not a Hogwarts, there are no teachers and you have to fend for yourselves, otherwise, things, not nice things could happen to you.

I fell headlong into the Young Adult genre, years ago and I think that I wore myself out of these types of book, reading this, gave me an indication, that perhaps I was still full of YA
Having said that, i feel awful for not really enjoying it as much as i should, or as much as it deserves.
I shall await to see if this comes out on audio format and I shall definatly partake again.
Thank you so much for the experience Netgalley and the Publishers.
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I thought school was tough without monsters. Imagine having to go to the bathroom in pairs in case a monster slimes up through the grate, grabs your ankle and poisons you. Or a hanging monster suffocates you on the way to English class. Terrifying. It turns out in the Scholomance (inspired by the fabled school of black magic in Transylvania?), the compulsory school for all magical children to improve their odds of survival from 1 in 20 to 1 in 4, there are frightening things actually hiding under your bed. A deadly school where if you don’t graduate, you die. And not every student graduates.

Let me start by saying that the entire first two chapters are exposition. It’s a very information-heavy story in terms of narrative. That's because there's a tonne of worldbuilding, and as a result, a world that feels fleshed out. I really immersed myself in this crazy monster-school, but, I’ll be honest, I was ready to put the book down in chapter 2 - because, ugh, info-dumping - but I am so glad I continued. A Deadly Education is a frighteningly fun adventure.

Told in first-person, our protagonist Galadriel aka El narrates her school life with a mix of information and flashbacks. She knows a lot of general history of the world, and she’s a bit of an overthinker. I identified with the snarky, sixteen year old with an against-the-world attitude (although I was unfortunately never an all powerful magic-caster) but I can see how the writing style wouldn't be for everyone.

El is part-Indian, part-Welsh and there’s real diversity in the school (which makes sense given it’s the only magical school of its kind in the entire world). It’s Hogwarts only if out of every crevice, a monster tried to eat you. Oh, and instead of teachers, there’s a magical void to pluck spellbooks out of.

Did I mention the monsters?

Found friendships, feuds, alliances and reluctant-allies-to-lovers feature in this well-built story that's rich with lore and history. The ending was deliciously tantalising. This is one that I am dying to get the next book for, which is going to be a long time considering A Deadly Education is just being released!

If you like your main characters' snarky, your friendships genuine and your monsters under your bed: you’re going to want to bite into this.
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4-4.5* for this booK! 

This is my first Novik book and whilst the plot summary looked really interesting I went into it with no expectations. 

Firstly..... El....
I freakin’ love her! She is strong, snarky and does not take crap from anyone. Reading her thoughts on how much she’d like to just destroy everyone around her and insulting everyone filled my heart with joy. I completely agree with the comparison between her and Meg from Hercules. Her power always tempts her to the “dark side” where she’d be an absolute powerhouse If she gave but she never once gives in, even in the face of death. I also loved her awkward connections she started to make with people. She is fiercely loyal to her fledgling friendships and there is only a mild hint at romance which was refreshing. Too often now fantasy and YA plots are so heavily focused on romance. This book is proof you don’t need to rely on that to write a wonderful book. 

The school and the setting is dark and dangerous. It’s the sanctuary and worst nightmares for all the pupils there. The world is fully formed from page one. There is no introducing it slowly or long explanations of how the magic works. You’re thrown straight in much as the pupils are when they arrive at the school. Some of it was a little confusing at first but as you read you just accept the tidbits of knowledge and anecdotes as they come and it doesn’t get in the way of the storytelling.

Going in to this I though it was a going to be a standalone novel. I am absolutely thrilled there is going to be more. Apart from the last sentence this could have been a standalone but by the end of the book El has grown and developed so much, built up a group and a plan and I cant wait to see what comes next.
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I absolutely loved this book! 

The dark humour, sass and danger had me hooked! Though I had this book through Netgalley first (thank you!), my pre-order arrived and I got to see the beautiful map of The Scholomance which is found at the front of the book. It adds some gravity to the story when you have this reference. 

Galadriel lived with her mum near Cardigan in Wales (big up my home country! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿) before being dropped into the Scholomance. The Scholomance is a school for Wizards where they have to survive until their graduation and then survive the graduation itself. There are creatures lurking in all the nooks and crannies within the school, all waiting for an unsuspecting student to fall into their midst and be eaten. It really is a tough place to be. 

Each room has a void which gives you things you ask for such as spellbooks and Galadriel has a particularlly destructive affinity which often gives her spells to wipe out the world rather than one to clean her floor! The school often works against you and punishes you for not doing work or assignments. 

Galadriel wants to keep to herself but keeps being ‘saved’ by the hero of the school Orion Lake. He infuriates her and I think deep down, she loves it!

Galadriel has to fight her way through everything as everyone seems to hate her, the best way to survive school is through an Enclave and they aren’t exactly fighting over El to give her a spot. 

She has one year left before graduation and has to store as much Mana (magic) as she can to help her survive graduation. 

Wizards can use Malia or Mana. Mana is stored up and earned, so using it doesn’t take anything other than what you already have. Malia on the other hand, takes from wherever it can. You can cast a spell and kill someone around you through the action. Everything with Malia has a cost. The more Malia you use, the shorter your life and you die in a horrible way. 

With a school that technically shouldn’t exist, a void in her room, creatures trying to kill her and an Orion Lake following her everywhere, El has her hands full. 

As with any magic, balance must exist and with Orion saving everyone, the balance is thrown off to El is put in a tricky position to fix it. 

El doesn’t really have anything to lose but a lot to gain and she must battle her way through and hopefully, make it out alive. 

I love the sass that El has and while it is a defence mechanism on her part, you know that if you give her the chance, she’ll surprise you. The other characters in the book such as Aadhya and Liu are wonderful additions and they gel well with El. I can’t help but love how dorky Orion is and given the ending, I need to know more. 

This is a witty, sharp and delightfully dark magical fantasy. Naomi Novik has nailed it with this brilliant tale and I can’t wait to see what Galadriel gets up to next. 

If this is lesson one of the Scholomance, I cannot wait for lesson 2.
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I've read most of Naomi Novik's books before and enjoyed most but not all. She has really pulled it out the bag with this one. I absolutely loved A Deadly Education. A perfect autumn read and despite being set in a magical school it was totally original and dark.

Set in the Scholomance, a school that literally tries to kill it's students and consume their mana, El is learning to master her magic. We discover how the school works, no teachers, no friendships just necessary alliances and pupils trying to survive. I enjoyed the writing style and the references to Wales (Cymru am byth!) which was done really well. The relationships between characters was slow to start but definitely built up carefully and deliberately with some interesting twists and turns. Orion, the hero, definitely has an interesting story with some depth and darkness waiting to be discovered. And the ending was just perfect. There better be a sequal!!
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Rating 4.5/5

What I hate the most about a book that I love is that I feel like I don’t always have enough words to write a decent review, I absolutely loved this book so it feels extra difficult.

This was so different to any fantasy book I’ve read in a while, the story takes a well known concept and completely flips it, giving it an original edge and making it really interesting to get stuck into. A magic school where there is danger lurking around every corner, yes please, it adds a tension throughout the story and I actually found it funny at points to see what the mals (monsters in the school) ended up disguising themselves as.

I love that the school was a character in itself, the fact that it reacts to the students and usually not in good ways makes it all the more interesting. The magic system was so clever and I liked that the school tailored the education to suit each student, especially because in El’s case it provided a lot of amusement for me.

El was a great main character, her magic is powerful and tends towards the dark end of the spectrum much to her annoyance. Due to this most of the rest of her class try to avoid her and in a school that relies on connections to get ahead El has to be creative about navigating and creating advantages for herself. I love that she is unapologetically herself, she doesn’t suck up to the popular people, she actively avoids them and is usually a bit rude and sarcastic, but in a way that I very much enjoyed reading.

Her relationship with Orion Lake was great, his hero complex and shy personality worked perfectly against El’s outspoken nature, add to that the fact that El is the only one who actively criticises him. It’s the most unusual and interesting friendship and of course El can’t help but use it to her advantage and pays that forward for those who have shown her some form of kindness. I did like how things developed between Orion and El, it’s hard to describe how well it works the kind of almost friendship that teeters into the territory of something more but in an awkward way.

I also loved the relationships that she has with Aadhya and Liu, that they are tolerable acquaintances that become unlikely allies and that it progresses to a deeper friendship as they get to know each other better and see past their first impressions.

I cannot believe that it was left on that ending though, I actually cannot wait to see what happens in the next book, I feel like it can’t come soon enough.
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3.5 stars

Galadriel 'El' Higgins attends a school for magic where there are no teachers, but there is an infestation of creatures that try to eat the students.
El doesn't have any friends, partly due to her prickly attitude, which is a problem if she wants to survive graduation. Which she does. El needs to make an alliance with some of the other students in order to make it through the infested graduation hall, something many students die attempting to do each year.
El is a powerful - evil sorceress powerful according to a prophecy - but can she control that power and use it to survive?

I nearly DNF'd this book after the very first chapter as it was pretty much a huge info-dump. However, I continued reading and I'm glad that I did.
El was a good protagonist and I liked her most of the time, but there were a couple of occasions when her prickly demeanour did grate on my nerves a little bit. However, I thought the way she acted was understandable given what she'd been through. I enjoyed reading El's interactions with other characters, especially Orion.
Orion Lake was treated as the school hero because he kept saving people from the student-killing monsters and it was interesting to find out more about him.
The setting of the school was interesting, especially the idea of there being no teachers and the students essentially being left to fend for themselves. I really liked the idea of some books disappearing for years at a time and having to tell them how special etc they are to make sure they stay with you.
The magic was intriguing, especially needing to have energy - mana (light) or malia (dark) - to be able to do spells. I liked that to get mana you had to do things like push ups and crochet.
The info-dumps were definitely my least favourite thing about the book - there were some in odd places and some that felt overly long (see the first chapter). There also wasn't really that much that actually happened plot-wise. This book definitely focuses on the relationships between the students, which was probably due to it being the first book in the series, and while I did enjoy getting to know the intricacies of school-life, I would have liked a bit more plot.
I liked the diversity at the school. El herself was half-Indian, half-British.
There was a hint of romance, which was just the right amount for me. I think any more wouldn't have worked.
The writing style was easy enough to follow, but most of the time it did feel like I was being told things rather than shown them.
I am planning to continue with the series, mainly because of the cliffhanger at the end of the book which has me very intrigued to see what happens next.
This may not have been a gripping, on-the-edge-of-my-seat read for me, but it was instead a book that slowly lured me in and kept me entertained.

This may not be a perfect book, but it was an enjoyable read overall.
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The Scholomance is a school created to help protect teenagers with magical powers from being killed by deadly magical creatures. Unfortunately the school is still a deadly place to be. El Higgins is one year away from graduation and must try to make alliances to help get out of the school alive while also trying to control her strong magical powers. 

This is a brilliant, exciting book. I loved the world building and magic system which had costs and risks involved. There is constant drama, high-stake scenarios and near-death experiences. There is some light relief in El’s narration and the insults she deals out to her fellow students. 

I really like El and her comrades. I felt for El as she tried to navigate her way through complicated relationships with the other students. Questions of morality arise as El has to decide the path she is willing to take to survive. 

I am really looking forward to the next book in the series and recommend this book to anyone who enjoys rich fantasy worlds and compelling characters. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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R E V I E W. Happy Publication Day to @naominovik and A Deadly Education, the first book in what is shaping up to be her BRILLIANT new Scholomance series. Thank you so much to @delreyuk & @netgalley for my ARC. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Okay so this book. It’s creative, vivid, and more than slightly mental with a magic system that will suck you in and in El a lead character you’ll love. Oh, and a final chapter that has you screaming out for more (you know, because you’re excited, not because a Maleficaria has got you!)

The Scholomance is a school like no other. There are no teachers, no normal classes, and everyone in attendance is a wizard. Oh, and there is an excellent chance that you won’t live enough to make it to graduation. And then there is the matter of getting through that alive too. Like some sort of dark, sinister Hogwarts castle with the Maleficaria - strange, deadly and often disgusting monsters that make what you’d find in the Forbidden Forest look tame in comparison - roaming the halls looking for students to eat so they can consume their magic, the school has a mind of its own, teaching students what it thinks they need to survive. There are no friendships at The Scholomance, only alliances necessary for survival. And El is not exactly popular. But you need allies to make it through graduation, but most of the time she’s too busy trying to prevent her own unique set of powers killing all of her fellow students, quite by accident. You know, a typical school year.

This is one of those books you can easily beast through in just a couple of sittings - I think I did it in three, including four hours of just not being able to put it down right up until the end last night. It’s so complex I think I’ll be thinking about this new world Novik has created right through to the weekend, and it is easily up there with The Bone Shard Daughter as best new series of the year. Go grab a copy if you - like me - prefer your magic to exist in the real world rather than an entirely new fantasy realm, you love your books to be very darkly funny, and if you did not think Harry Potter was quite deadly enough!
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Loved it. Can't wait for the next installment!

I've previously read and thoroughly enjoyed both Uprooted and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and gave them both 4 stars. But with A Deadly Education she's finally done it and pushed me to a rare 5-star review!

The Scholomance - the setting for A Deadly Education and arguably its biggest character - is a magic school/school of magic that does its best to kill the students trapped inside. Staying alive is their incentive to learn. There are no teachers, no adults at all in fact, just a load of kids getting along in a life and death struggle until the survivors "graduate", which involves running a final gauntlet to the school exit through a tunnel of horrific monsters.

At this point, you may be thinking you've seen this all before: stories about schools of magic aren't exactly thin on the ground. But what marks A Deadly Education out as truly different is the first-person narration. El's voice is clear and marvellous. She's strong, grumpy, powerful, furious, hurt, scared, loyal... basically a mixed-up teenager living in a pressure-cooker that's trying to kill her. She's incredibly prickly and can be very blunt and rude, but you understand why she's this way and seeing her lower her defenses a little as the story progresses is one of the great joys of the narrative.

Because, for all the monster battles, what the story is really about is being a teenager: making friends, navigating school politics, figuring out who you are and who you want to be. The female friendships in particular made me smile and provided a few really good laughs by the end (remembering one of the final exchanges still makes me chuckle now).

The character of Orion is also brilliant and his unstoppable shining heroics are such a perfect (and often amusing) foil to El's wall of grumpy defensiveness.

If I have to be critical, I'd say there are a few long infodumps near the start of the story as the author is setting up the world. But do not be deterred if you feel these bits are a little slow. They're all essential background and allow the story to really take off about a third in and it doesn't slow down after that.

In case it matters to anyone, I think this is YA. I don't think that should matter, because whoever it's being marketed to, ultimately it's a great book. However, just in case it helps you adjust your expectations before going in, I thought it worth mentioning.

Overall: absolutely brilliant. The only downer is that this is book one in a series and ends on a tantalising cliffhanger... argh! The next book can't come quickly enough!
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Set at the Scholomance, a school for magically gifted individuals. A Deadly Education follows Galadriel or El as she's better known, literally struggling for survival through school. The Scholomance is an unusual school, there are no teachers, no holidays and no escape until graduation. If you make it. That's because the school is literally alive with monsters that lurk in the corners, under desks, in the school canteen and literally eat the students. On graduation, students need to have allied up in order to find a route to the real world. Death is a very real threat.

This dark and spooky vibe is definitely delivered in time for October and Halloween. Having said that, I felt at times the novel did lack the intensity or scare factor I kind of expected with a school full of monsters and wish Novik had really ramped up the tension.

The premise is great and Novik puts a lot into the world-building. She details the history and structure of the school, the way magic works in the world and El's own history. On that, I cannot fault her for delivering on the world-building. Although at times the heavy focus on the world-building does come at detriment to the speed and development of the plot.

I really liked El as a character and although she was a little bit prickly she actually had a lot more to her character than first appears. The relationships she develops across the novel with Liu, Aadhya and Orion were slow but more believable. I particularly liked the moments between El and Orion as their friendship blossomed despite them seemingly initial polar opposites and El's initial complete rebuttal of his presence.

This book is definitely not for everyone as it's not a faced-paced fantasy but that's very much a Novik's style. I would also say the book had a very different vibe to Uprooted and Spinning Silver although the writing style is very similar. However, the build up in this first instalment leaves me excited for what hopefully is set to be an even better sequel. Thanks to @delreybooks and @netgalley for the arc.
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A Deadly Education is the story of an unwilling dark sorceress who is destined to rewrite the rules of magic, set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students. Learning has never been this deadly.

The first instalment in the brand new Scholomance series, or Lesson One of the Scholomance as it's being referred to, introduces us to an exquisitely built world complete with intricate detail and a dark magic academy for prodigious youngsters. Add to this monsters and pupils willing to claw themselves to success, trampling on other students as they go and you have got a frightening and utterly riveting fantasy. The magic school is a seriously overdone concept in this genre, however, Novik has crafted a refreshingly original tale made unique by the true darkness of the school itself. With danger lurking around every corner it pays to keep your eyes open. The diverse cast was a joy to behold and El is an engaging heroine for the ages - a character so sharply realized and so richly nuanced that she will live on in hearts and minds for generations to come. Many thanks to Del Rey for an ARC.
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This story is pure magic from the start. El Higgins has never been liked by anyone but her mum. People just seem to take a dislike to her as soon as they see her and keep a wide berth. In her defence, El has learned to keep out of other peoples way, for their own good. El is the narrator of the story and it comes across as pure dry humour that made me giggle. The further into the story I got and the more I liked this girl.

El has been sent to a very special school, a school of magic and mayhem where only fifty percent of students will graduate due to the other half being killed by the horrendous creatures that roam the dormitories throughout the year tasting the goods until the final day when the only way out is through them.

This is a cracking story, though, like everyone else that she knew, I didn’t like El, to begin with, it is very clever writing by this author. I had fallen hook line and sinker to be like everyone else and see what El wanted them to see. The entrance of a fellow male student made me smile but had the opposite effect of El. I was intrigued.

There are some wicked creatures in the story, brilliant head to heads and unthinkable alliances. The story is entertaining, funny and sure to be a hit with many generations. I really didn’t want it all to come to an end but there is going to be more. A brilliant start to a new series with the select few been chosen to take centre stage already.

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.
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Filled with monsters, murders and blacker-than-black magic, this is about as dark as a boarding school story can get! I really loved the inventive storytelling here, in El's dry, witty voice, but at times, I did find the world-building hard to follow. It's such a full, vivid world, but it's also incredibly complex, and so at times it veers almost text-book like in terms of setting up the rules, the stakes and the monsters. That being said, I still very much enjoyed the read - and now that all the world is in place, I'm looking forward to jumping into the heart of the story in the sequel!
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The minute I heard that this book was coming out I knew I had to read it. Whilst I have not read any of Naomi Novik’s books (I’m sorry! I have Uprooted on my TBR!), the concept of this book just drew me in and lets be fair dark academia is definitely something I love reading about. 

I devoured 57% in one sitting and grudgingly had to put it down as I needed to get some sleep. This book is absolutely brilliant and I loved the world building and the characters. 

Galadriel, or El as she prefers to go by was such a great protagonist. Sarcastic, smart, rude and incredibly angry El was brilliant and I loved watching her journey and her development throughout this story. Although she should be unlikeable, I never found myself frustrated or annoyed by her behaviour or attitude, instead I liked reading about a abrasive main character because in all honesty it was a breath of fresh air! She’s been shunned by people most of her life due to her affinity for dark magic and because of that she doesn’t know how to let people in, with her mother being the only person she cares about. 

Orion was in my opinion quite hilarious with his clueless yet brave personality that makes him the hero of the school. He is everything you’d imagine in a hero and is loved by everyone but El who honestly hates the fact that he’s managed to save her life countless times. I also found myself growing to love Orion and all the side characters and what they brought to the book. 

I’ve already mentioned the world building but seriously guys, it’s amazing. Everything was just so captivating and intriguing that I couldn’t help but want more. You can tell that Novik has put so much thought into this book with how detailed everything is. 

Overall, this was a brilliant book and is now one of my all time favourites. From the sarcasm, to the plot and it’s characters this book ticked all the boxes for me. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK - Del Rey for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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