A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik: A Short Review

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik is (most likely) the one and only book I managed to finish in March. Following the story of a sixteen-year-old half-Indian half-Welsh Galadriel “El” Higgins in a magic school called the Scholomance, this book opens with grouchy El complaining. After being saved twice by Orion Lake, unlike so many other students in the school who quickly become his adoring fans, El decides that this needs to stop. Powerful that she is, she can certainly save herself from all the monsters and cursed artifacts running around the Scholomance.

But it is hard to do just that when she doesn’t have someone to back her up. Everyone in school seems to anticipate her turning into an evil, witchy thing, and thus avoid her if they can. Except for Orion Lake. Of course.

Grouchy, easily irritated, and unfriendly that she had been, it was admittedly hard to resonate with El at first. I found some of her earlier actions questionable, though it was still sad seeing her being ostracized by her peers. I was genuinely relieved that it didn’t last very long, however. El eventually grew on me, so instead of labeling her actions as mad, I found her hilarious.

I liked the setting so much. The world-building, or in this case the “deadly school-building”, was top-notched. It evoked the perfect dark ambiance with the particular eeriness of a magical academy, and I found the idea surrounding the school magic system fresh. Unfortunately, I only found out that there were some illustrations to help us imagine the Scholomance at the end of my e-book (and since I have no idea about the ordinal position of the physical copy, I recommend that you check the first and the last page just to be sure). In my opinion, the drawings helped a lot.

Furthermore, I found El and Orion’s friendship gradually riveting. I was glad that they started off as friends first because while I hadn’t felt a romantic chemistry between the two, I was down for its development in the future installment. My hope is that the second book will provide more dialogue and lessen the “too much telling, less showing” angle the first book aimed at.

In conclusion, I would say that I truly enjoyed A Deadly Education. It was quite action-packed, clever, and thrilling. I would recommend this book if dark academia is your go-to genre, and am so excited to pick up the next installment soon.

Actual rating: 4.2