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All booksFantasyA Deadly Education
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education

by Naomi Novik

Quick take

Monstrous enemies and killer exams are hardly metaphors in this story of a magical school and its dangerous student.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Teen


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Brainy


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Series

    First in series

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Snarky


Why I love it

Melissa Bashardoust
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.

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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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of A Deadly Education.

Member thoughts

All (1973)
All (1973)
Love (953)
Like (694)
Dislike (326)
2048 ratings
  • 47% Love
  • 34% Like
  • 16% Dislike
  • San Francisco , CA

    I read this in an evening and promptly restarted it. more enjoyable the 2nd time with familiarity of the universe. The comparisons to Harry Potter, hunger games are valid but this is it’s own beast

  • Atlanta, GA

    Love the world building and adventure. The sass and snark are glorious, and the characters are amazing. The cliffhanger is actually killing me though. Can’t start anything because I’m stuck on it ????

  • Scranton, PA

    Wow. For the first 50 pages, I thought I hated this book because you are thrown right into everything but just hang in there! All will be explained and I absolutely LOVED it! Can’t wait for the sequel

  • Bellefonte, PA

    This book is kind of like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games had a wildly creative, sarcastic, & entertaining baby with a dangerous flair all its own. It was so much fun - can’t wait for the next one!!

  • Fort Smith, AR

    I LOVE this magical world Novik has created & the main character El, a snarky outcast with unimaginable (potentially dark) power. I already want to get back into the Scholomance. Bring on Graduation!

  • Roslindale, MA

    Galadriel is an amazing heroine. I bought the book because I love a good magic school and I’ll continue to read the series because Galadriel’s character growth is amazing. A really enjoyable read!

  • Charlotte, NC

    Yet another superb fantasy from Naomi Novik spun in beautiful yet simple imagery. Easy & fun to read with a story that hooks you right from the beginning. AND THAT LAST LINE. Had me absolutely reeling

  • Naperville, IL

    Lots of exposition but I liked it anyway. El was a great main character and I loved her backstory and morals. It was great seeing her evolve with Orion, Aadhya, and Liu. The magic system was confusing

  • Leesville , LA

    I loved this story about a Hogwarts where everything is out to eat you. No teachers, just highly motivated students running on adrenaline and fear. The character development was superb. I need book 2!

  • Columbia, MO

    There are few things I love as much as a prickly, rage filled female main character. A bit exposition heavy at times - but overall worth it. I loved the characters and will def read more of the series

  • Longview, TX

    Like a live action D&D game; pitfalls at every turn! Absolutely LOVE a protagonist who is literally born to be the villain!! Really gives the reader a feel of grinding for spells, levels, and items!

  • Big Rapids, MI

    I absolutely loved this bonkers fantasy set at a deadly school with a dry-witted heroine who could easily destroy everyone but won’t—because morals. This was funny and adventurous! I need book 2!

  • APO, AE

    Talk about a creative world! The school itself pure genius and i really enjoyed the magic system. There is a lot of world info but i felt like it helped the story. Also that ending was action packed!

  • Gilbert, AZ

    A thoroughly unlikeable main character, a deadly sentient school, a doomsday like prophecy, magic, and loads of world building and info dumps. This isn’t for everyone but I definitely enjoyed it!

  • Avon, OH

    Novik created a super imaginative, intruiging world! It was fun to get pulled into the Scholomance, except I definitely wouldn't want to be there for real! This was like a more grown up Harry Potter

  • Davidson, NC

    I LOVED this book. Naomi Novik has a beautiful style of creating these elaborate new worlds and making even the most bitter characters likable and fully fleshed out. I couldnt put this book down.

  • Austin, TX

    Got sucked into this book from the beginning and read it all in one day! Took a little bit of time to fully understand the world but overall really loved this book and can’t wait for the sequel!

  • Newark, DE

    Naomi Novik does it again. This book was incredibly detailed and opened up a whole new world to explore. One of those books that you keep thinking about months later. Excited for the second book!

  • Frankfort , KY

    I have loved every book by this author and A Deadly Education is my favorite of them all. The snarky MC and the dark/murdery magic vibes is everything! I cant wait for more books in this series!

  • North Royalton, OH

    Snarky, dark, and engrossing. Fantasy with rules and severe consequences, and lots to say (without shoving it down your throat) about people, the choices we make, and assumptions about others.

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