A Deadly Education

If you read Harry Potter and thought, “If Hogwarts was trying to murder you, though…” this is for you.

There’s no quiddich at the Scholomance. No holiday parties, no friendly games of chess. There are, however, monsters in the showers, in the ceiling, and in the food. If you want to survive, you have to be strategic. And no one is more strategic than El.

Unlike readers who were familiar with Novik through Uprooted or Spinning Silver, this was my first introduction (I’ve since gone back and read her other titles) and I loved it. LOVED IT. The main character, El, is a sarcastic, caustic, loner that you shouldn’t love, but somehow can’t resist while Orion’s awkward-hero (please cast Tom Holland for the Netflix adaptation) makes the perfect enemies-to-lovers pairing. So if you enjoy reading about terrible things happening to nice (and not-so-nice) people, grab yourself a copy.

“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.”

Book of Night

Not all authors can successfully make the jump from YA to adult. Holly Black is one of those who can, but it requires some patience from the reader. I debated for a while whether to recommend this, partially because of the slower paced plot (I didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it either) and partially because, apparently, when Holly Black goes adult, she goes ADULT. The characters participate in a fair amount of self-harm, including alcohol abuse and toxic relationships in addition to the murder and gore that’s become standard in the genre. Why am I including it? Because the premise is just so gosh darn fascinating. Shadow magic? Yes, please. I’ve also developed a recent soft spot for books whose plots are smaller and the stakes more personal (less saving humanity/the kingdom and more saving up the money to open your magic bakery) and this one gets it just right.

“There’d always been something wrong with Charlie Hall. Crooked, from the day she was born… If her shadow had been one of those magic ones, she was pretty sure even that thing would have run away.”