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A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education, October 2020
The Scholomance #1
by Naomi Novik

Del Rey
336 pages
ISBN: 0593128486
EAN: 9780593128480
Kindle: B083RZC8KQ
Hardcover / e-Book
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"A teen’s witty commentary on all the grim-dark things happening around is wildly refreshing."

Fresh Fiction Review

A Deadly Education
Naomi Novik

Reviewed by Kishor Rao
Posted September 16, 2020

Fantasy | Young Adult Coming of Age | Young Adult Fantasy

Galadriel, also known as Gal or El, is a wizard. She studies in a school called Schoolomance, the only deemed safe place for wizard kids to go to. But is it, though? A school which has mana-hungry (a term you’ll come to understand when you read the book), slimy monsters lurking in every nook and corner who feast upon kids; a school where there are no teachers and whose graduation ceremony involves torching the entire school and fighting said monsters. One would wonder about safety!

The first in a trilogy, A DEADLY EDUCATION sounds like a typical YA fantasy set at a magical school and told in the first person, but this is a unique and fascinating story. Told entirely from El's point of view, our protagonist (or is she?) divulges her chronicles at the Schoolomance with her new acquaintance Orion who might be the only good person in the entire school (or is he?), and her two friends Aadhya and Liu (or are they?). It is just too hard to tell after just one book and well worth the read to try to find out.

El doesn't have many friends, but she wouldn’t worry about it if it wasn’t necessary for survival. Not that she can’t protect herself, but she’s concerned others won’t be able to if she does. Her vulnerability along with her affinity for destruction can be the end of Schoolomance. The most annoying thing about campus novels is characters not having any school-related work to do and are there hovering just in the background. Novik will have you believe nothing comes without hard work and that school is school everywhere, even with magic and monsters. Most teens seem like their lives are at stake when they’re stressed but this is quite literally the situation at this school. Let your guard down for one second and your remains won’t even be found.

Supporting characters also have well-plotted backstories. Students come from all over the world and through them, various cultures are explored. These are not just over-the-top superficial reps for the sake of diversity but have concrete roles for the development of the plot. It indeed is a very fresh setting, with morally grey characters dumped in equally murky situations. Quirky El and her internal monologues are to die for and will frequently leave you bawling with laughter. A teen’s witty commentary on all the grim and dark things happening around her is wildly refreshing. Do not miss A DEADLY EDUCATION by Naomi Novik for all the blurbs and praises are true--you won’t be disappointed.

Learn more about A Deadly Education


From the New York Times bestselling author of Uprooted and Spinning Silver comes the story of an unwilling dark sorceress who is destined to rewrite the rules of magic.

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 me to do. 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 itself 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 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.

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