A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, Book 1)
By: Naomi Novik
My Rating: FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS!
Best for: 16 and up
A magic school somewhere in England? A teen wizard tainted by a dark prophesy? No, you have NOT read this book yet, I promise.
This magic school might have a familiar location, and there may be a dark prophesy at play, but The Scholomance is no Hogwarts.
At this school, teenagers die.
“But wait!” you say! “What about Cedric Digory? He died! It’s not like Hogwarts was safe!”
“True,” I say. “Voldemort was lame. He killed a few folks over the course of 7 books.”
The survival rate at The Scholomance? 25%. Send four kids to school, only one’s coming back.
How’s that for dark magic?
In this wonderfully imagined world from the endlessly impressive mind of Naomi Novik, The Scholomance is where the world’s wizard families send their children for training. The school itself is MAGIC. Literally. No teachers, no employees. Schedules, grades, food, sanitation, libraries–it’s all managed through magic established by the schools creators.
It’s The Hunger Games x The Lord of the Flies inside The Scholomance. The kids with the best alliances and the most friends are the safest. The loner kids who don’t have much to offer? They’re the low hanging fruit for the monsters who roam the dark corners, looking for delicious young wizards to munch on.
The star of this story is one of those loners, trying to survive by flying under the radar. She’s such a wonderfully written character! If anyone were to discover she was really a once-in-a-generation powerful dark sorceress prophesied to topple the wizarding world, she’d have to watch out for more than just the monsters. But as graduation looms, alliances must be formed, spells must be learned, power must be managed, and the need to survive takes center stage. And maybe our dark sorcerer could even become…the hero?
If you haven’t read Naomi Novik before, you’ll need to prepare yourself for her unique style. This story is told exclusively from the mind of one character–and we spend all 337 pages in one narrative voice. It’s very well done, but there is a whole lot of internal dialogue/stream of consciousness that often drags on for pages and was occasionally hard to follow. It didn’t bother me–I enjoy the challenge of experiencing unique voices. But other reviewers were frustrated, so just be prepared.
These are unsupervised teenagers, so it’s not hard to imagine what you’re going to find inside. There’s a bit of romance, but no sex. There is moderate use of strong language in the book, and you’ll find some creepy violence as well. Best for 16 and up.
Make sure you have book two ready to go…you’re going to NEED it!