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A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik


A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
UK Publication Date: 29th Sept 2020
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

The start of a great new series?

Synopsis from GR: 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.

My Thoughts: For me personally this was a 3 star read but I have given it 4 stars based on the actual target audience who are considerably younger than me.

Novik has tried to be racially inclusive in her writing (I think characters from the whole world are mentioned at some point) this has lead to accusations of racism. Personally I only noticed one while I was reading and it was not the “dreadlock” issue that apparently set Twitter afire. I would recommend that people who have a problem with the book read this review which details the problem issues and why the author should be forgiven for them.

I don’t want to say too much about the characters or the setting as that could provide spoilers instead I want to look at the themes explored in the book and why they make it more than just a book about magically children tackling evil.

At its heart this is a story about secondary school /sixth form (UK terms ages 11-18). For most of the pupils this is their first time away from the comfort and security of home, it’s about finding your feet, finding yourself and defining who you want to be. It’s about making friends and learning what you can achieve and about learning the importance of working together.

You would think in a book with literal monsters trying to kill the human characters the distinction between good and evil would be obvious. Not so instead this book explores all the grey areas that can occur when you are fighting for your own survival. It also explores the idea that good actions can have unforeseen negative consequences.

I love the way Novik casually throws in references to other books my favourite being “Reader, I ran the fuck away”.

There is also a particularly hilarious scene involving a mothers warning about “Secret Pet Mals” I actually did laugh out loud at this because I can so clearly see the mother giving the advice and the reaction of other students when it is revealed.

Overall I found this to be a fun book about the whole school experience with monsters thrown in to complete the adventure.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to the target audience of YA readers and anyone else who likes a little fun fantasy in their reading. Warning though it ends with a cliff hanger which if you are anything like mean will mean you are desperate to find out WHY?

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think?

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