All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman – Review

Published: November 9, 2021

Publisher: Tor Teen

Series: All of Us Villains #1

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins.

Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death.

The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted.

This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.

But this is a story that must be penned in blood.

HOLY COW! This book was not at all what I expected, and I mean that in the very best of ways! I anticipated yet another riff on the magical tournament trope and while yes, there is a magical tournament, it isn’t for the faint of heart. This is a YA grimdark tourney to the death where only one can survive, because if a winner doesn’t rise in three months time then all the contestants die. All of Us Villains stands out from the crowd and is definitely one of the best YA books I’ve read all year.

The story starts off by slowly introducing us to our contestants, how they’re dealing with tournament preparations, and showing the reader how different this tournament is compared to those long past. You see, someone wrote an exposé on the town of Ilvernath and the seven families who vie for control of the last high magic in the world. It aired all the dirty secrets and now the world has their eyes on Ilvernath and the “Slaughter Seven” as they’ve dubbed the teens who are about to fight to the death. Paparazzi, reporters, and even a few meddling government representatives are constantly lingering about. As if it’s not difficult enough, the teenagers who may have to kill their classmates, cousins, or even a boyfriend or girlfriend in the coming months also have to put on a good face for the world.

The characters are a varied bunch, though all are skilled enough at magic to give their family a chance for success. Alistair Lowe was raised to be a monster and the Lowe’s win two out of three tournaments, so he’s clearly one to watch out for. Isabel Macaslan was touted as the first champion, just after the scandalous book was released to the world and everyone snubs their nose at her for seeming too eager and desperate for attention. Briony Thorburn is/was Isobel’s best friend who’s wanted to be champion since she was little and sees herself as a heroic figure. Finley is Briony’s ex-boyfriend – they broke up because Briony told him she’d kill him on the tournament. I mean, that’s pretty harsh, but at least she was practical. Gavin Grieve is the most likely to die on the first night. The Grieve’s aren’t strong magicians and he can barely cast a class five spell. Grieve is desperate to win and it definitely shows. The other two champions are less memorable- Elionor Payne and Carbry Darrow are cousins and aren’t given too much page time. 

The cast is excellent and between the champions themselves, their families, the media, and the spellmakers there’s plenty of drama to go around. And I mean PLENTY. It’s juicy stuff that will horrify and fascinate you by turns. Like, these families are hiding some shady stuff that even the exposé didn’t reveal and honestly, this book is even better than adult fantasy in that regard. 

I loved this book and I can absolutely see myself re-reading this before the next installment comes out (whenever that may be), so I’ll probably pick up a hard copy. As you get further along in the story, the title will 110% make sense – this isn’t a jolly happy story, it’s basically a tragedy but it’s so good! The book ends with another reveal that wasn’t entirely surprising because that particular character was suspicious AF from the get go, but MAN do I need the next book soon!!! Highly recommend you check this out and don’t let the YA label deter you too much!

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