Published: January 30, 2020
Publisher: Self Published/Tor Books
Series: The Atlas #1
Pages: 383 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.
Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.
When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.
Most of them.
Seems like I jumped on the bandwagon just in time with this book because it’s just been picked up by Tor for a re-release in March 2022! I love the current cover and have seen it around on Instagram enough that I was Influenced and picked it up. (Grab it now while it’s still only $5 for the ebook!). Between the dark academia setting and a cover that practically screamed “weird occult symbols” I was unable to resist temptation. And you know? It was a pretty cool story!
The story follows six magical practitioners who are highly skilled in their various disciplines. Each of them is extended an offer they can’t refuse by one Atlas Blakely, recruiter for the Alexandrian Society, an elite secret society of magicians. Only six are selected for admission each year and only five of them make it in as members. Isn’t it obvious that something ominous happens to the uninducted member? During their pre-initiation they spend their time learning secret powerful magics and inventing incredible feats of their own. Wormholes, time travel, anything is possible with their level of power and skill. They must also repel anyone who tries to invade the society’s walls and whilst they do all this, they must also decide who will be eliminated.
The characters themselves are quite the cast. The two youngest, Nicole and and Libby have just graduated from magical university and are the fiercest of rivals, though their sexual tensions is palpable. They’re also the most likable of the cast, even though I could punch Libby for being so dense and insecure! The others are all varying shades of assholes. Callum reigns as the most psychotic and his empathic abilities only serve to make him worse. They all have quite obvious flaws and it really does serve to keep the reader on their toes and guessing about what might happen next. I liked the unpredictability of the whole story, and the ending left me clamoring for the sequel! I suppose now that Tor has picked it up I might have to wait a little longer for the next book, but I hope it will be worthwhile.
Overall, this was an interesting take on the magical school trope, had great dark academia vibes and some definite antiheroes. This is one instance in which unlikable characters worked for me – they weren’t completely awful and had enough redeeming qualities and interesting motivations to keep me invested! I can’t wait to see where the story goes next after such a wild ending!