Published: September 29, 2020
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Series: The Scholomance #1
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.
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.
Hands down, A Deadly Education is one of the best books I’ve read in 2020. This book grabbed me by the shirt front, shook me, and didn’t let go for the entirety of this wild ride. For all you fans of magical schools – this one’s for you. It’s like Hogwarts, if the kids (other than Harry, Ron, and Hermione) really ran into all the dangerous things that are mentioned.
The Scholomance is a school for magically gifted teenagers, but its unlike any school you’ve ever read about. There are no teachers, it’s full of monsters that actively try to kill students, and it’s also in an otherworldly dimension. Also, breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be deadly affairs as some of the food is usually poisoned. Four years of madness, four years of trying not to get killed by monsters, other students, or your own stupidity. Four years that culminates in running the gauntlet toward the only doors out of this hellhole. Between the students and the exit is a gamut of starving, slavering monsters that will tear them to shreds if they haven’t learned how to defend themselves or made smart alliances in the last four years.
Galadriel (El) Higgins is a junior at the Scholomance and she’s seriously lacking in the friends department, but makes up for it in the world shakingly powerful magic department. The caveat to that is she can’t really use her magic to its fullest extent because she might kill everyone around her by mistake. El is quite unfriendly and unpopular, so it comes as a surprise when Orion Lake saves her life. And then saves it again. Orion is one of the New York coven kids, making him immensely powerful in terms of allies and opportunities after graduation. He’s also well known as a hero. He’s saved hundreds of kid’s lives since he’s been at the Scholomance and he just seems to love killing monsters (or “mals” as they’re called).
I found the characters to be delightful. El’s bad attitude was totally relatable at times and she absolutely cracked me up! Orion is the golden boy, but he’s much more than this knight in shining armor. The other girls that El is acquainted with really grow on you and make the story pretty darn awesome.
Overall, this was a ridiculous, awesome book that I find myself still thinking about weeks later. I’m thinking about listening to it again, just because I enjoyed it so much the first time through. The reviews seem to be a mixed bag – lots of people aren’t enjoying it because it’s nothing like Naomi Novik’s previous books, some folks don’t like El’s prickly personality, and others love it just as much as me, so your mileage may vary. It’s certainly unlike Novik’s other books, though my only comparison is His Majesty’s Dragon (which I really like). I am ENTIRELY overjoyed at the prospect of more books in this series and will probably fan-girl pretty hard over new releases in the future!