Monstrous enemies and killer exams are hardly metaphors in this story of a magical school and its dangerous student.
Good to know
First in series
Why I love it
Author, Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Who among us hasn’t felt at some point like school was trying to kill us? Naomi Novik takes the idea literally with the Scholomance, based on a mythical school supposedly run by the devil. I love a gothic setting, but what I love even more is a complex heroine trying to control her own demons in addition to the ones stalking the halls.
Galadriel “El” Higgins is training to be a wizard—if the school doesn’t kill her first. It doesn’t help that El lacks the social graces to make the alliances she needs to survive, though her social status might change now that golden boy Orion Lake keeps following her around. Along with the other remaining students, who could be friends or foes, El must navigate the perilous (as in, chock-full of monsters looking for a snack) halls of her school and try to live past graduation.
El’s first-person narration won me over from the start. She’s witty, she’s cranky, and she’s trying really hard not to destroy everything and everyone (it’s hard when the school keeps giving her spells to end the world). Through El’s razor-sharp voice, Novik takes on the concept of a magical school with no mercy, examining structures of power and privilege as well as the psychological effects of never being able to drop your guard. I hope you’ll be as captivated by El and her intricate, treacherous world as I was.
A Deadly Education is 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.