A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

A Novel

Book - 2020
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the author of Uprooted and Spinning Silver comes the story of an unwilling dark sorceress who is destined to rewrite the rules of magic.

"The dark school of magic I've been waiting for." Katherine Arden, author of Winternight Trilogy

I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I'm concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I'm not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don't need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I'm probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I'll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that's what the world expects. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that's crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn't getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone's idea of the shining hero, but I'm going to make it out of this place alive, and I'm not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I'm giving serious consideration to just one .

With flawless mastery, Naomi Novik creates a school bursting with magic like you've never seen before, and a heroine for the ages--a character so sharply realized and so richly nuanced that she will live on in hearts and minds for generations to come.

Praise for Deadly Education

"The can't-miss fantasy of fall 2020, a brutal coming-of-power story steeped in the aesthetics of dark academia. . . . A Deadly Education will cement Naomi Novik's place as one of the greatest and most versatile fantasy writers of our time." -- BookPage (starred review)

"A must-read . . . Novik puts a refreshingly dark, adult spin on the magical boarding school. . . . Readers will delight in the push-and-pull of El and Orion's relationship, the fantastically detailed world, the clever magic system, and the matter-of-fact diversity of the student body." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Publisher: New York : Del Rey, [2020]
Edition: First Edition.
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780593128480
Branch Call Number: FANTASY NOVIK N
Characteristics: 320 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

Lauren, Children's Librarian

LPL_LaurenT Sep 02, 2020

This book is a wild ride. I was not prepared to love it as much as I did. The one downside is that there is a LOT of plot dump. You are dropped into the middle of this world and there is just a boat load of exposition, so if you don't love that, you are going to be bogged down in this book and mi... Read More »

From the critics

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Feb 10, 2021

Well worth it, if you can stand getting dumped into the middle of the world and figuring it out as the plot develops. Heroine/Dark One is so engaging! School that kills off students...The elites who use everyone not as privileged as cannon fodder without a thought...not so hidden social commentary mixed with coming of age and fantasy adventure...good stuff!

VaughanPLRachelP Jan 21, 2021

As you may have guessed from the title, A Deadly Education is another entry into the 'magic school' genre, but with a few twists I very much appreciated. Scholomance is, quite literally, a magic school. By which I mean the school itself is actively magic. There are no teachers at Scholomance, the school is responsible for teaching students. Oh, and it is absolutely infested with monsters (called 'mals' in this book). As such, half of the students education is learning how to survive. It's a very strong incentive. The main character, El (short for Galadriel), is the subject of a prophecy that dooms her to becoming one of the most dark and destructive witches of all time, leaving her fellow students to avoid her at all costs. But Scholomance isn't a school you can survive without allies, as El quickly learns. El is smart and snarky and while being a good person doesn't come natural to her, she mostly tries her best. This book is guilty of a bit too much exposition - pages and pages of info dumps about the school and the wider society as a whole. And while it's told in El's charming, sarcastic voice, these passages can still go on a bit too long. But the story sets itself up well for future installments, ending on a cliffhanger that is compelling but not frustrating.

Hillsboro_RobP Jan 14, 2021

At once an assault on the tropes of the "Deadly School" genre and one of the best-ever entries under that idea. Novik comes at the reader fast with believable characters, a solid groundwork of practical magic, a smart heroine, and page-turning danger in (literally) every shadow. Get on the wait list for the next one early!

Jan 14, 2021

This series is my new obsession. El is very relatable as an outsider. Can’t wait for June when The Last Graduate comes out next in the series.

LoganLib_Sheridan Jan 11, 2021

I loved this book! I think it was a lot younger and tropish than here usual writing but there was still a lot of dangerous and deadly magic as you would expect from a Naomi Novik novel.

So my favourite part might have been the relationship between El and Orian. El is pragmatic and you could call her a realist but pessimist works. Orian is a happy go-lucky enclave kid who is set apart from his peers. He is the brave hero constantly jumping into danger. Do you see where this is going because I did and it was beautiful.

El thought her biggest worry would be surviving school and not fulfilling a dark prophecy about her powers but honestly now shes more worried about Orian doing something stupid in the name of saving everyone else and getting herself killed... and surviving school.

The dark world of magic has a very gothic feel as they look out for monsters at every turn... literally. The alliances formed were interesting to watch as they learned to rely on each other in a world where betrayal could kill you.

The use of languages was amazing as they used different languages for different spells and there were students from all over. However I have heard issues with the use of language from BIPOC that white people may not think of. There was also no mention of racism which is impossible to escape as it would infiltrate from the mundane world.

I loved this book and am impatiently waiting for the next one!

Jan 08, 2021

Mals are scary and I think this book will become the next big fantasy book of our times. School kids dealing with realistic problems associated with magic and the balance of the universe.

JessicaGma Jan 04, 2021

I usually enjoy Naomi Novik's books, but this was a real letdown for me - cool premise, but it was pages and pages and pages of description with little dialogue to break it all up. I was tired reading this and wished for more of a Temeraire approach to the book. Not a bad story, just not as good as others I have read this year.

Dec 27, 2020

For literally years, the world has pondered an essential question: what if Hermione Granger was a Slytherin? Finally, Naomi Novik appears to answer this important question! El Higgins is a lonely outcast studying at the Scholomance, a school for teenage magicians located somewhere in England. Unlike Herminone, El is sassy, rude, and has raging anger issues. She's also an extremely powerful witch with a mysterious gift for casting uber powerful mass death and destruction spells. Sadly, that's not very useful when you just need a simple spell to clean your dorm room. The Scholomance is not Hogwarts; it's a dark and horrible place full of hideous flesh-eating monsters slithering amongst the gothic shadows. But El has more important problems, like finding some friends who won't try to assassinate her in the library!

Dec 01, 2020

Galadriel, El for short, is a student at The Scholomance, a school for magical teens. She has the power to flatten armies with a wave of her hand. But she and the other students have to survive the school before they’re released into the world. Hungry monsters, called mals, have an unending appetite for the students and their magic. Most of the mals are trapped in the school’s exit hall, where they eagerly await a buffet of graduating seniors. But some of the smaller mals manage to wriggle to the upper levels where the students spend their time. The mals are always hungry and sometimes impossible to defeat.

But now that El is a junior, Orion Lake, the school’s golden boy and monster slayer, is suddenly paying a lot of attention to her. Previously a loner, El is suddenly building strategic alliances in preparation for her senior year. Because only those with a strong team survive graduation.

I’m going against popular opinion a bit in my review of this book.

Don’t get me wrong; every review I’ve seen is glowing and I don’t exactly disagree. But I don’t fully agree either.

First off, I do love this world. It’s interesting and full of magic and enclaves of magicians (Wizards? I’ve already forgotten what they call themselves). The school with danger lurking around every corner and in every roof tile and even hiding in the food is fascinating. The rules of survival and alliances are numerous and practical and well thought out.

But the majority of this book felt like an info dump to me. There is a lot going on in Ms. Novik’s head. She’s contemplated every nuance of this world from multiple angles. I would normally appreciate that kind of attention to detail. But there are pages and pages and pages of not much happening while El explains how the school works or why all of the kids are half-starved and dirty and afraid of their food. There are more pages about why the monsters are attracted to the school, how it was built, and why no one can fix the huge problem of monsters eating the children. And on and on. It was just a lot of information. I don’t think there was a better way to handle it, honestly, but I hope this turns out to be a long series since most of this first book is world building.

El is a loner. She puts off an aura that just feels evil because of all the power she has. Everyone assumes she is evil. She doesn’t feel the need to correct their assumptions. The outside world rejected her so many times before she entered the Scholomance that she pushes others away before she can get hurt again. I logically understand that. But emotionally? If she treated my friend or brother the way she treats Orion? I’d push her into the void myself. She’s just nasty to him for quite a long time. Supposedly he finds that refreshing since so many others fawn over him and his monster-fighting ability without bothering to get to know him. I can see that to an extent. But El goes quite a few steps too far.

Once events finally start happening with regularity–halfway through the book? two-thirds?–this world truly absorbed my attention. I wanted to find out why monster attacks were getting more frequent. I enjoyed seeing El finally, finally relax her guard a bit. And I really liked seeing her test her powers. As she begins interacting more with other students, I liked learning about them and their backgrounds. And what on earth is going on with that ending?

I felt like this book was quite a bit of work for not a lot of action but I see huge potential now that readers are familiar with the world and can hit the ground running in the next book. Despite my own quibbles (I’m in the minority; look at the phenomenal ratings here), I absolutely do recommend this for readers of fantasy, just be prepared for all of the exposition.

This one was stressful and original as all get out.

At the Scholomance, classes are teacher-less, dorm rooms back onto the void, and monsters are crawling around trying to eat students at every turn. Sounds fun right? El is just trying to make it to graduation, but when your affinity is for death and destruction on a global scale, nobody tends to want to be friends with you. Until one day, Orion Lake, hero of the Scholomance, decides to save your life. Ugh.

The first thing I'll say about this one is that El's voice is so clear in my head. She's so snarky and downright mean, but at the same time, she's just so guarded, and beneath her tough exterior, she's hiding a heart that is softer than she would ever admit. Her desire for friendship and acceptance is so tamped down at the beginning, and watching as she allows herself to want those relationships is a lot of fun.

Now, this is a world that fully stressed me out to read about. Like, seriously. Stress dreams and anxiety, hello! And now that I've gotten through it, I'm very glad it's done, but wow, is it all so original. I've never wanted to escape a book so badly, yet be fully engrossed at the same time; the thought of those monsters and having to be constantly on guard physically affected me, but I was admiring Naomi Novik's skill at nailing that tense atmosphere all the way through.

A few things that I just didn't like as a reader, on a personal note: the chapters are SO. LONG. That I would often have to stop reading in the middle and then that would leave me trying to remember exactly what was happening when I came back to it. I prefer shorter chapters, easier to pick up and put down, whether I devour a book or not.

And the writing style here is not my fave. I found Uprooted to be very bland, and though that's certainly not the case here, there are so so many looooooong sentences that even had me reading back to make sure I understood them because they just seemed to go on forever. (The irony of that long sentence is not lost on me lol)

I am glad this one is behind me, and I don't know that I'd recommend it blindly to others, but on the whole, it is very good at what it does. I would just rather chew off my left arm than go to the Scholomance.

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