Cover Image: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

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an enticing, atmospheric read. this book is set in a dark magical school called the scholomance. we have a twisted world with an intriguing magic system and a wide-ranging cast of characters. we follow el, our snarky main character with a dark prophecy of destruction looming over her. she has to figure out how to get through her school years without bringing attention to her ultimate powers of doom, and without friends or allies. naturally, some unexpected turns of events occur...

my favourite things about this novel were: the world-building, the writing style, and the characters. the scholamance is a dangerous school full of monstrous creatures lurking in the dark, where the graduation cermony (if you're lucky enough to make it that far) consists of fighting your way out of a graduation hall full of monsters. you may be wondering why any parent would choose to send their child there... well, they don't really have much of a choice. despite the danger of the halls, the students are safer there than they would be outside, where it would be even easier for the mals (monsters) to get to them. the magic system of the world relies on the build up of energy, a person can do anything that requires effort (for example push-ups or crochet) to build up their pool of magic. i really like that this magic system depended on give and take - magic can't just freely flow from nowhere, it follows certain laws of conservation.

i adored the writing style in this novel! it might not click with everyone because it is a little slow-paced and has to do a fair amount of world-explaining, but that's exactly what i was in the mood for. it's dark, moody, and atmospheric. i think it does a fantastic job of introducing you to a new, exciting, and dangerous world.

the next wonderful thing about this book is the characters! there are rumours and rivalries, as with any high school, but in this situation your social circle could mean the difference between getting out and getting eaten alive. there are friendships, enemies, alliances, and relationships. there's a large cast of characters from all different backgrounds - the scholomance very multicultural, being an international school, so there's students from pretty much every country. it's nice to see such a diverse range of people, as well as the interesting way different languages weave into the magic system.

another thing i appreciated was that romance wasn't a heavy aspect. there was only just a very small touch of something, which i really loved because it's nice to have some books that where it's not emphasised a huge part of the story. there was definitely a much stronger emphasis on friendships - which was actually quite beautiful to read, since el had never really had friends before.

honestly, i think this is the best book i've read all year and it's quickly become one of my favourites! it'definitely gives a promising set up for the next book!
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I have very much enjoyed Naomi Novik's first two books and have raved about Uprooted to everyone who would listen.  I think if I hadn't read them and fell in love with that style, world and writing I would have enjoyed A deadly education.  

I was so exited to get an ARC but sadly I struggled to get into it it.  I didn't have a clue what was happening during the first few chapters and the language and descriptions used were more like Cassandra Clare than the style of Novik's first books. Sadly I was put off and didn't finish this book. 

I should have read the blurb better then maybe I would have had a different expectations.
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Now, I’m a huge Naomi Novik fan...I adore her writing...just saying...

This is very different to her usual books, so if you’re looking for a fairy story then this isn’t it. 

It is however, just wonderful as you would expect. Set in a school for the magically gifted, it‘s a really scary place to be, even for a magic school. Everyone is out for themselves, monsters are constantly looking for food, students don’t speak or interact with each other unless there is a strategy involved. This is not a nice place to be.

El (who narrates), isn’t popular, nobody wants to even trade favours. But El is special...and someone notices..

....just read this book. You really won’t regret it....

My thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the advance copy
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This is like a 4.75 maybe more, just doesn't quiiiite hit the full 5 stars for me.

This was so good though 😭 very reminiscent of the way Gideon the Ninth is written, if you enjoy the humour in Gideon you will love this book!

This is super different from what naomi novik has written before but I still ate it up lol. The character interactions and El's growth as a person really kept me turning the pages, and the last line made me need the next book NOW
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What a dark enthralling tale. School for magic with no teachers, no curriculum, you can only graduate or die. So a student desperately needs partners, great strategy and big magic powers to survive.

Galadriel or El is not a charming character, she just wants to be left alone but as everybody needs to make an allies to survive in this school. She also holds immense dark powers which can easily kill people.
Her allies are not friends in sense of the friendship definition...and the hero of the school Orion who saves everybody from different monsters, does not leave her alone.

Fantastic read, can't wait for second book.
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It took me awhile to get into this book, mostly because I was so confused with with what was going on, but carried on reading and I'm so glad I didn't give up! It was just so good and not at all cliche.
Some people might compare it to Harry Potter but I think it would be unfair to compare the two. They do have a few common factors, like the magic and the boarding school vibes but they are very different. The school itself does remind me of Hogwarts with the way it has a mind of its own as well as its own magic (also has moving staircases!!!). But this school is a more satisfyingly darker, insane version of Hogwarts with monsters and singing spells and a game of survival of the fittest.
The MC was such a delightful and refreshing person. She wasn't your typical nice, quiet loner with no friends. She's a mean, prickly loner who dishes out as much as she gets with heaps of sarcasm and wit. I loved how wicked and grumpy she is, but also the biggest softy. All she wanted was some friends who would have her back. Also her name is Galadriel, (!) and that alone would have pulled me in. 
The hero, literally in this case, is such a clueless idiot and a huge do-gooder, trying to save every single person from the monsters and i think thats what makes them such a great match. She feels annoyed at his heroics and ends up feeling obliged to have his back since everyone sees him as a hero and not an actual person who can also get hurt. The plot, side characters, the friendships, world-building were all fantastic! Looking forward to the 2nd book!
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It's no secret that I'm desperately in love with Naomi Novik's writing so it felt so very good to be reassured that yes, indeed, everything she writes is madly enjoyable.

What I loved about this book was how much it made me feel. The protagonist's voice was distinct and her emotions gripping. I went from my heart aching to being giddy with happiness to absolute  s h o c k  by the last chapter. The world this book is set in is dark but the tone isn't. It's actually quite humorous and easy to read, and you don't come out of it feeling like a wrung out rag (like usual with these dark books): I almost wish it had been a little bit more grim, but given the age group it was written for I can forgive it.

Even though the target audience for A Deadly Education is clearly much younger than me, I still enjoyed it and would really recommend it to readers at the younger end of the YA spectrum. High school Britt would have painfully related to the protagonist and there's some excellent social commentary sprinkled into the story that doesn't feel too heavy handed. It's a really solid read!
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Pitched as a 'dark feminist Harry Potter', set in a magical school where not everyone makes it out alive and with that stunningly mystical cover, I was very excited to get my hands on an ARC of A Deadly Education. The author has already made a name for herself in fantasy fiction, but this was my first read from her, despite having her hit debut Uprooted waiting on my Kindle. And oh I wish it had been as magical a read as I was anticipating, but sadly it fell a little short for me.

The premise of the Scholomance is an interesting one, it's a clever twist on the usual tropes. In this magical school there are no teachers, and not everyone makes it out alive. All of the students are training for 'graduation', when they will have to fight a series of monsters known as 'mals' who prey on vulnerable young magic folk. Our protagonist is Galadriel, known as El, is a snarky, sarcastic sixteen-year-old student just living her best life at the school trying to stay alive whilst hiding the strength of her own powers and the dark prophecy her grandmother foretold when she was a little girl.

It's clear that the author has put an incredible amount of thought in to build this unique world, and I know the world-building in this novel is what a lot of readers loved. But for me, it came to the point that there was too much world-building, and not enough action. I can completely understand using the first few chapters to set the scene, but throughout the book action and dialogue sequences are interrupted with lengthy reams of info-dumping; dense paragraphs of information that just didn't feel entirely relevant. Galadriel can't start a conversation with a new character or learn a new spell without having to give the reader a meandering insight into everything she knows about the history of that character, spell or whatever it may be, and this began to grate on me a little.

I also wasn't a huge fan of her tone of voice. This may be purely down to personal preference and have something to do with the fact that I'm probably quite a lot older than the target audience for the book - but I don't feel that this book is as mature as other YAs I've enjoyed. El is sassy to the point of just being downright rude, and her narrative is a strange blend of juvenile sarcasm and teenage angst. Whilst she does have a sympathetic side, I struggled to connect with her as a character.

I can see what the appeal is with this book - the strong anti-heroine, the diverse magical school and unique concept are all done well - but for me it just didn't quite all come together. I know this is the first in a series, so maybe now the world-building is out of the way the rest of the series will pick up the action. I won't be continuing with this series, but I will still make an effort to get around to some of the author's previous releases.
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I was drawn to this story because it was described as a “female-led Harry Potter” and because I have heard many good things about Naomi Novik and I thought it would be a good idea to start reading this author from her newest novel. The author gives lots of information and context in this first book  and most of the plot is about the story of the school and the protagonist’s family history, leaving little space to action. I really liked the protagonist, Galadriel. She is smart, funny, rude, irritable, and loyal and she is a great protagonist. I also liked her male counterpart, Orion Lake, and I look forward to see more of these two characters together. It wasn't at all what I expected, but I enjoyed the novel and I will definitely read more by this author and also the sequel of this novel because I am curious to see what happens next.
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Thank you to NetGalley for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review. 
DNFed at 50%.
This was a book that I was highly anticipating but it turned out to be a disappointment. The main issue that I had with this book was the world building. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't understand the world, but that it felt like I was reading a text book about the world rather than a story based in it. Naomi Novik describes everything in the most minute detail and gives backstory and historical context to every single scene in the book. This means that the plot doesn't develop quickly enough as there is constant explanation of everything over and over again. I'm not even sure what the plot actually is. After 50% nothing had happened and I found it painful to read. 
Overall, this was a book with a great concept and setting that was ruined by the excessive detail, meandering sentences and little focus on the plot. It felt like a battle to get to 50%.
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This is a fun ya fantasy set in a sentient high school for magical children. The school provides students with what they need to learn as there are no teachers, no holidays and kids don't see their families again until they graduate. That's if they survive to graduate. The school is infested with maleficaria, malevolent beasts that will kill and eat the students if they don't find and destroy them with magic first, using either white power (mana) or dark power (malia).

Despite being very multicultural with students from all over the world, the students are divided into those who grew up in powerful magical enclaves and those who didn't. Galadriel (her mother was a LOTR fan), known as El is part Indian and part Welsh and is a snarky feminist who grew up with a single mother. She also has a dark prophecy hanging over her head which she is terrified to reveal. Unlike the enclave kids she doesn't have a host of friends watching her back and a source of shared power to call on when needed. She's a bit of a loner, not helped by her snarky attitude and rudeness. She's not even very nice to popular golden boy Oliver Lake who's mission in life is to save as many of his junior year class, including El's, as he can by killing maleficaria. However, she knows she will need to make some alliances or be invited into an enclave if she is to graduate and then survive on the outside.

I loved the world building and the system of magic in this book. Novik has created some very nasty beasties and nasty ways for students to die. There quite big sections of information dealt out in the book but they did help to explain the way the school and the magic worked and to set up for future books in the series where less explanation will be needed. I also loved all the characters in this book. Even the snarky, unpopular El who is smart and witty with a mile wide chip on her shoulder. The enclave kids were even likeable despite their sense of privilege and elitism. Oliver reminds me of a golden retriever puppy, always goodheartedly rushing in to help even though El does nothing to encourage him. However, as they will discover together they make a formidable pair and I look forward to them moving into their senior year together in the next book in the series.
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A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved Naomi's Uprooted, and was so hoping this book would be along those lines. It sounded fun and exciting but....from the start I really disliked El, she's rude, arrogant, stand offish. When we know more about her I understood much of why she was that way, but I never really got to like her. 
The school is just weird and I didn't understand why parents were so desperate to send kids there, given so many of them died. I'm not sure what they gained from being in all that constant danger that they couldn't have been taught in safety. 
I just found it hard to connect, with the story or the participants and eventually gave up halfway through. A shame as I so loved Uprooted and was certain I'd enjoy this. Still, it won't put me off trying Naomi's next book. 

Stars: Two, I guess Nick is an author who's writing others love but I don't. I found the story had no real point, drifted along and relied on stereotypes that irritated me. It could have been so much more for me, but as ever its perfect for others. 

Arc via netgalley and publishers
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El Higgins is in her penultimate year at the Scholomance, a school of magic like no other. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and only half the students make it out alive. El is maybe one of the school’s most powerful students, but she possesses a dark power that could wipe out her fellow classmates if she used it. Determined to make it out alive but to also not become a malificer (a dark wizard), El’s only option is to make some strong alliances and get invited into an enclave where the wizards share power and protect each other. The only problem, she isn’t the best at making friends.

I loved this book SO. MUCH. El is possibly one of my favourite ever characters, and I also loved Orion and the others. El is an extremely likeable character, despite her affinity with destruction. She’s prickly and opinionated, and generally quite stand-offish, but it was incredibly easy to understand her way of thinking, and her dark magic is so damn cool.

The plot literally just follows El and her classmates through one year of school, with no larger outside story, so it isn’t a particularly detailed or complex plot. Yet, somehow, it wasn’t boring at all, and remained exciting, eventful and entertaining from start to finish.

But where this book really shines is in the world building. How a school with no teachers works is brilliantly explained, and the entire thing makes complete sense despite being magical fantasy and sounding more than a little bit farfetched. I cannot wait for book #2!
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On paper, this sounded absolutely fantastic. It was one of my most anticipated releases for 2020, but it ended up being a huge disappointment. 

Welcome to a School of Magic unlike any you have ever encountered. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you're inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die. 

Sounds amazing, doesn't it?! Yet it sadly ended up being a bit of a mess with too much telling and not enough showing. I felt that the majority of this book was our main character giving a background on things that are happening in real-time. When she encounters a fantastical beast in the corridor, you don't get a big action-packed fight scene. No, you get a 3-page long account on the history of the beast. The volume of info-dumping was astronomical, and I think this partly explained why I was feeling bored a lot of the time. Just when I thought the plot was starting to shine and make sense, it would get super confusing with a lot of random information thrown in. 

There were some glimpses of amazing world-building, and the story/premise holds a massive amount of potential, but this book was disappointing for me. I'm incredibly grateful that I was given the opportunity to read an ARC, and I hope that the story improves in the next book, but this missed the mark. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I came into this book with absolutely zero expectations. Despite having both Spinning Silver and Uprooted on my TBR pile for longer than I care to admit, this my first Novik novel. 

I adored it.

Whilst I was a little apprehensive about the idea of reading a high-school set fantasy novel, I didn't feel that it fell into any of the usual tropes and pitfalls those kind of books entail. These are kids that are fighting for their very survival against a magical school that's trying to kill them so there's no as much time for the usual teenage drama usually portrayed although hints of this slip in from time to time as they would with a large concentration of teenagers in a high stakes environment! 

The characters are such a wonderfully diverse mix, El is our guide through this novel as we see everything through her eyes. She's fantastically strong and witty, resourceful whilst having to navigate her own fears and worries as magic user not assigned to one the many global magical enclaves that bestow extra power on their members. Orion, Liu and Aadhya were also well realised characters with their own hopes, fears and agendas. As a misift kid growing up it was such a satisfying feeling to watch friendships arise from people previously ostracised by their peers or on the outskirts simply because they were kind and respectful of each other in this highly competitive environment. The school itself is also a character in its own right with its secrets and wards, and was such a lovely place to inhabit, if lovely is the right word for a highly dangerous magical environment that has claimed the lives of many of its inhabitants. 

The world building is also magnificent and drip fed to us throughout the course of the book. It did get occasionally tedious however when reading snippits of Els past or information on the magical world outside the school and knowing after the first few times that this meant an event related to the info which had just be provided was about to happen. However I found the world so interesting that this wasn't a huge issue. 

The magic system is well explained, magic can be used one of two ways, mana that is formed from physically or mental exertation. This can be generated and stored by doing things such as exercise, crochet or doing a particularly hard sudoku! The other is malia which can be drawn from living beings who are killed in the process, however this has the draw back that as the user draws more and more malia they can end up becoming a maleficer, a powerful yet short lived demonic creature. Wizards/witches usually have an infinity for a certain type of magic, this can be anything from weather magic to the ability to create magical objects to mass destruction. Magic here is also divided roughly into three types, incantation, alchemy and artifice. I really loved how the inclusion of different languages can change the potency of spells, and in Scholomance if your an incantation major it's encouraged to learn as many languages as possible.

The timing for release of this book is also so spot on as its perfect for the cosy spookier months of autumn coming up! Do have to say to the author though: that ending, how dare you! I can't wait to dive into the next book!
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Life in the Scolomance is very deadly.  Students are there to try and master their art, and hone their magic.  There's no teachers, and no holidays.  Alliances are made rather than friendships.  Everyone is working towards one goal - getting out alive.  Alliances don't come easily for El, and so making it out alive is even harder.  What her peers don't realise is that she possess a power stronger than any of them, a power strong enough to wipe out millions.  The problem for El is that using this power to save herself might cost the lives of all the other students.

Naomi Novik has been on my radar as an author I wanted to read for a while now.  I'm very glad I was given a chance to read an arc for this one and actually be introduced to her writing finally.  I'll definitely be reading more of her books.

A Deadly Education was a book that grabbed me within the first few chapters, despite me not knowing entirely what was going on.  Before long I was really struggling to put it down. The world of The Scolomance is completely new, but it doesn't take long to get to grips with how it works.  Much as it's a pretty terrifying world, there's still a part of me that would want to visit (with Orion there to protect me anyway!).  The magic system is unlike anything I've read before, and is fascinating for it.  The whole thing is delightfully dark.

I really liked El as a character, even though she did seem a bit abrasive at the beginning.  I could totally understand where she was coming from, and her strength of character and insistence on standing up for what she felt was right was admirable.  Orion was great too,  albeit oblivious to a lot of what is going on around him.  The relationship between the two of them is hilarious to read about, and just the right amount of endearing that it doesn't make you go ugh.

Novik gives us a fantastically diverse cast here, with characters from literally all over the world and all backgrounds.  She also explores the themes of inequality and injustice incredibly thoroughly.  Having El question these behaviours is a great way of pushing a reader to wonder whether they would do the same.

The story had me hooked from early on. I wasn't entirely sure where we were going, but I was all in for the ride.  Now that I've finished this one I've got a feeling where the series is going and can't wait for the next one, even without the extra sequel hook at the end!

Thanks to NetGalley, Random House UK and Cornerstone for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Students across the world work toward graduation, but for the students at Scholomance, it’s a whole other level. Galadriel ‘El’ is sick of golden boy monster-slayer Orion Lake saving her life, when she doesn’t need saving from the monsters that lurk about the school. El is one of the most powerful people in the building - she could slay the monsters with a click of her fingers - but she can’t give in to the horror of her full potential power. Instead, she’s got to work hard and build her reserves. When Orion thinks El is up to no good, it sets into motion a precarious liaison that tests the fabric of peers and power groups and perhaps the very survival of their class group.

A Deadly Education is like a combination - Nevernight, Shadowhunters, Shadow & Bone, The Hunger Games.

A Deadly Education will be known as the comeback kid for the foreseeable future. There was a moment when I genuinely didn’t think I’d keep going, because it was so challenging. Hand on heart I’ll be so honest: I thought some fanfics I’ve read are better than this. 

A Deadly Education is primarily a world building book through the perspective of El, who’s rich narration also feels like a character study. There is no major plot event(s) other than toward the end of the book, which is appreciated by the earlier time spent establishing ADE’s supernatural world.

I really, really liked El. She’s the textbook definition of sarcastic and angry. She took me back to all those days when I was a teenager angry with the world, people, just everything and blared my music to drown it all out. She reads as if she’s got a chip on her shoulder and I loved it because I got it. El feels as if the whole world is against her - who hasn’t felt that feeling, right? - but the difference is it most definitely is in El’s case.

One of the best things about A Deadly Education was the relationship of Orion and El. Their interactions are predominantly banter fuelled to the point I was genuinely laughing, so that carries and compensates for the all of book’s weaker points. 

I felt the book lacked an overarching plot that pulls everything together - at least an obvious and immediate overarching plot. We’re repeatedly reminded of El’s needs for successful graduation (which is not happening in this book)... So instead we’re focused on El explaining all the different ways to have a successful graduation. That’s what made up the bulk of the read imo. And as much as I loved all of that, it’s undeniable the book had a flat atmosphere to it. It’s as if it was missing a soul and life force. At the worst of times it felt like a deflated soufflé and I considered DNFing it around the 30 - 40% region. It also didn’t help that Novik used “et cetera” mid explanation a handful of times, which felt careless and read as if she herself were bored, especially concerning when whats being explained is the book’s own magic system, opposed to some everyday mundane thing there’s a chance readers may know.

But I enjoyed the school’s set-up and the monsters aka ‘mals’ - there was a whole monster hunting predator vibe going on throughout the read which was sinister but thrilling. I found reading about El’s studies really catered to me as a student at uni, and was often intrigued about what El was going to have to do next in order to not anger the school. 

The ending of this book! Oh my gossssh. My gut twisted and my eyes bugged out of my head. There’s so many questions and a big desire to know what the heck is going on?! I need the next one now!

A Deadly Education wasn’t what I was expecting, for better and for worse. I wish there’d been a central plot (or stronger plot) alongside the world building and El’s character, but I did enjoy both of these when they weren’t so empty in feeling. I can’t wait for the sequel!
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After reading and loving Spinning Silver i was really looking forward to reading this however it didn't live up to the expectations that i had. I thought that a fantasy book set around a magic school would be perfect for me but a lot of the time i found it to be info dumpy and quite boring. I did like the book dont get me wrong but it took me a while to get through as i lost focus quite easily. This was mainly due to the fact that we would be halfway through something and then it would cut to a backstory. The last 15-20% of the book was the best part as it where the majority of the action happened and the ending definitely set it up for the sequel. But the last part of the book was also the only part that seemed to have a plot line, the rest of the book was just following Galadriels everyday life.
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Galadriel, or El to her friends (if she had any) is half Welsh, half Indian, and is bursting with surly attitude and sarcasm. I loved her independence and her strength of character. She is a student at the Scholomance, which is a magical boarding school that is set in a void. There are no teachers, no adults and plenty of nasty beasties that want to devour the students. It's a fight for survival, for acceptance and an opportunity to strive for a better future.
Roll on the next book in this series, I'm eager to learn more.
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Making it through high school can feel like hell sometimes - and that’s especially true for students of the Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted, where monsters lurk around every corner and only the best and brightest survive graduation. 

Naomi Novik isn’t a new name to fantasy fans, but this is a whole new look for her. A Deadly Education feels grittier and much more down-to-earth than Novik’s usual epic fantasy storylines. Reviewers will make the inevitable comparisons to Harry Potter, but the Scholomance is a far cry from Hogwarts. In the world Novik has created teenage sorcerers are monsters’ favourite meals and the school is overrun with them. Surviving means being constantly on guard, staying up all night, never walking to class alone and potentially duelling your dinner.

El, the protagonist, is a witch of considerable power.  Unfortunately, her speciality is dark magic, which she avoids using. All she wants is to be left alone to make her own preparations for graduation - but school superhero Orion insists on saving her life every five minutes, much to her annoyance.

El and Orion were the highlight of A Deadly Education for me - they hit so many relationship tropes I’m a sucker for (unknowingly dating, pessimist/optimist, finding each other endearingly annoying). I’m really looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops in book two.

If I have one criticism of A Deadly Education, it’s that El’s inner monologue veered off into exposition territory a little too often for my liking. The exposition in the first chapter felt particularly forced. It slowed down the narrative and wasn’t even strictly necessary, since the reader could have learnt about the school and the history of El’s world as the story unfolded. Still, El herself was a great narrator - snarky and jaded, and yet still so endearing. 

All in all, a strong start to a series I’ll definitely be continuing with!  Many thanks to Random House UK for providing a copy of A Deadly Education. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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