A Deadly Education
A Deadly Education is the first book of the series The Scholomance by Naomi Novik. It was first published in 2020 by Penguin Random House UK. The Scholomance is a school for magically gifted children but it is unlike any other one.
At Scholomance the students are sucked into the school with very little luggage allowed. Once in school, there's no getting out until you graduate. There are no teachers. The whole Scholomance operates on magic itself. Creatures called maleficaria or mals deadly enough to kill you lurk in the shadows. Even eating alone or leaving the dorm room after hours can get you killed. Staying alive is more important than grades. El Haggins, our protagonist knows she has the most powerful magic to wipe out any malicious creature but she prefers not to because her power is so dark that she is certain it will kill humans too. There is some strangeness in her eyes that other kids stray away from her. So in a place where allies are the most important thing to survive, she is all alone which leads her to resent everyone around her. But it gets worse when the school hero, Orion starts saving her life consecutively and doesn't seem to leave her side.
Before sharing my views about this book I want to clarify that being an Indian I haven't found the book racist at any point except for the one with the dreadlocks but for it, Naomi Novik has apologized and said she will correct her mistake. I don't think it's fair to both author and the book to cancel them as a lot of work and time goes into coming up with a book.
The fuzzy writing of this book is something that bothered me till the very end. From the beginning of this book, there are major pieces of information getting thrown at you once and randomly. Terms belonging to the scholomance world are used without any proper explanation of what they are. I thought that eventually things will get clearer but they don't. Though I think the world-building was good, Novik has not done a clean job in painting the picture of it for her audience. Talking about the relationship between El and Orion, from the beginning it could be anticipated that they will be haters to lovers so there was no surprise there. Talking about the good aspects of this book, the book is in the voice of the main lead El and so is filled with inner monologues which are funny and sassy. This book picked up for me at the second half when everyone realizes the reverse impact of Orion going on saving everyone's life and El for a change working with other people to get rid of the mals at the graduation hall. The character development of El is something that impressed me the most. From being an absolute loner and judging and hating everyone to finding people who if not friends, will at least look after her and realizing that not everyone is what they seem from outside, everyone goes through internal struggle just like her.
Though I have mixed feelings for this book, I'm looking forward to the upcoming books of The Scholomance. If you are someone who prefers to read YA dark academia and stan the haters to lovers trope, chances are you will like this book. Happy reading!
“Some sorcerers get an affinity for weather magic, or transformation spells, or fantastic combat magics like dear Orion. I got an affinity for mass destruction.”
― Naomi Novik, A Deadly Education