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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

From the author of Uprooted and Spinning Silver comes the first book of the Scholomance trilogy, the story of an unwilling dark sorceress who is destined to rewrite the rules of magic.

Finalist for the Lodestar Award

“The dark school of magic I’ve been waiting for.” (Katherine Arden, author of the Winternight Trilogy) 

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, making myself the dark queen of the world. 

At least, that’s what the world expects. 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 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 school bursting with magic like you’ve never seen before, and 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.

The magic of the Scholomance trilogy continues in The Last Graduate. 

“The can’t-miss fantasy of fall 2020, a brutal coming-of-power story steeped in the aesthetics of dark academia. ... A Deadly Education will cement Naomi Novik’s place as one of the greatest and most versatile fantasy writers of our time.” (BookPage, starred review)

“A must-read ... Novik puts a refreshingly dark, adult spin on the magical boarding school. ... Readers will delight in the push-and-pull of El and Orion’s relationship, the fantastically detailed world, the clever magic system, and the matter-of-fact diversity of the student body.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

©2020 Naomi Novik (P)2020 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“The Scholomance is the dark school of magic I’ve been waiting for, and its wise, witty, and monstrous heroine is one I’d happily follow anywhere - even into a school full of monsters.” (Katherine Arden, New York Times best-selling author of The Bear and the Nightingale)

“Eyeball-meltingly brilliant...Novik is, quite simply, a genius.” (Kiersten White, New York Times best-selling author of And I Darken)

“At the Scholomance, monsters are everywhere and the breakfast might kill you, but the wonderful cast of characters will grab ahold of your heart and you’ll never want to leave this deadly school. Naomi Novik skillfully combines sharp humor with layers of imagination to build a fantasy that delights on every level. I loved this brilliant book.” (Stephanie Garber, number-one New York Times best-selling author of the Caraval series) 

What listeners say about A Deadly Education

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Super creative and great world building

It's like a very violent Harry Potter with one of the most involved magic systems I've ever seen, and a setting that's as much of a character as any of the people. Highly recommend to fantasy readers!

2 people found this helpful

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So many rules to remember

The story idea kind of interesting but the amount of rules the main character constantly spits out and explains is kind of insane.
I made it to the 2nd chapter to give it a chance but got bored with listening to the rules of every. Single. Move. She made.

1 person found this helpful

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Well I Don’t Want to Go To This Magical School

I honestly loved this book and can’t wait for the next instalment. I’ve read about the controversy around certain passages and the criticism is well founded but I still love the story. I am confident that Novik will avoid such glaring missteps in her future.

While Anisha Dadia doesn’t quite have the range of other voices that some other narrators do, her petulant performance of El is perfect.

Overall, I highly recommend if you wanted the Hunger Games version of Hogwarts - which surprisingly I didn’t know I did!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jey
  • 2020-11-22

Snarky magic school

This book is fantastic. I was gripped right from the start, and couldn’t stop listening until I was done. Even though the students are teenagers, I believe this book would be enjoyed by everyone. Galadriel is so resourceful and pessimistic, that you can't help wanting to root for her. Lots of spooky scenes (or maybe that's just me haha) and attitude!! One of my most favourite books now.

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wicked

wicked awesome book worth the time little slow to start but picks up great throughout 👍 👌

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Awesome world-weaving!

This is a fantasy book that sets out to create a unique magical world and it goes into every detail about it. I personally love well defined magic systems like these and the setting was just so well described, really laying the groundwork for a great series. Characters were a little cliche but they had complex backstories for how they got to that point, which broke the cliches for me and made them feel unique. Add onto the narrator, who did a great job breathing that last bit of life into the characters, and you have an excellent audiobook.

1 person found this helpful

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Naomi Novik hits it out of the park... again

Superficially, this is a 'dark' Harry Potter. Once you get past the similarities of a school of magic, Naomi Novik weaves a dark tale of dark magic, horrifying creatures, and intrigue that puts other books like this to shame. Can't wait for the next book.

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second listen. still love it

I appreciate this author's books. Her strong female characters who choose to learn to let others in.

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Predictable

This book should have been labeled as YA. It’s a teen novel. The story is driven by her romantic interest. Unfortunately, anything that’s even remotely interesting about this world is overshadowed by her romantic interest. Honestly, it just ended up being boring and predictable.

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Brilliant Concept

The Magic Paradigm in this YA Fantasy novel about a school for Wizards without teachers is fascinating. Mana empowers magic in Naomi Novik's reality and is present in everything from inanimate objects to living beings (more omnipresent than "The Force"). The ability to use Mana is likewise widespread, but attracts the attenton of lethal beings call Malefecaria ("Mal" for short) that hunt down wizards & witches, feed on their concentrated Mana, and kill 19 of every 20 magic-users in the community at large. The author envisions a school - The Scholomance - where students have a chance to develop their powers.. improving their chances of survival - while dodging the Mal that are attracted to and infest the school. Students are considered graduates if they survive to commencement - most often succeeding by forming alliances based on 'Enclaves' (Wizarding communities in the outside world) or by becoming mana thieves themselves. Novik's protagonist - Galadriel 'El' Higgins - is a half-Welsh/half-Indian Witch (very magically-gifted and prophesied by the Indian half of her family to someday be a nightmarish evil sorceress), who grudgingly falls in love with an annoyingly hypermoral conventional "Good Guy" with a hero complex - Orion Hill. Together they navigate the terrifying challenges of living in a world with ever-present monsters and a school that improves their chances of survival, but still has a 75% chance of death before reaching Senior Year.
The conditions for a great book are set up marvellously in Novik's vision: the Magic System, Societal environs, and Educational Setting/Matrix are legitimately captivating.

So how does she do?

There are definitely successes and deficiencies in 'A Deadly Education':
• Novik's characters are conflicted & interesting, her dialogue is realistic (including occasional expletives), and the plot is well-paced. The book is definitely well-written.
• The elements of the author's magical reality combine nicely to generate an immersive sense. This fantastical book makes suspension of disbelief surprisingly easy
• Less fortunately, the "Misunderstood Misfit with a Heart-Of-Gold" characterization angle is handled in a way that is far too typical for YA stuff. The "unlikely" romance between El and Orion likewise feels contrived and formulaic.
[There are also genuine issues with Novik's handling of racial issues, her strange obsession with Diversity, and her somewhat headscratching world-building: the book is set in "Post-War Britain" but modern technology (like computers, phones - even engineering as we know it) doesn't exist for some reason]

Thankfully, Anisha Dadia is a remarkable reader. Her performance of the book is straight-up fantastic. Diction, timbre, tone, cadence, and pacing are all above-average.. and her voice-acting is peerless (Dadia affects no accents while still maintaining easily distinguishable characters). Random House Audio cast the project wonderfully.

Despite a few imperfections in the writing, this audiobook rates 8.5 stars out of 10. Readers looking for a unique twist on the British Wizarding School template (or for a decent YA Fantasy/Romance for that matter) shouldn't hesitate to spend the Credit on this book.
I confess it just didn't grab me, so I won't be continuing with the 'Scholomance' series, but you would totally be justified in doing so.

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  • Rune
  • 2020-10-13

Intersting concept, way too much self pity

I was very excited to read another book by Naomi Novik, as I absolutely loved Uprooted and Spinning Silver. However, once I realized I was 2 hours in to this one and nothing had happened beyond a few monster attacks and the main character whining about how hard her life is, my enthusiasm waned. I love stories about underdogs just as much as the next person, but when the underdog is constantly comparing everything they have to everything everyone else has and feeling sorry for themselves *all the time*, it gets old. The main character is also blessed with amazing insights into other people's thought processes, allowing her to look past people's seemingly kind actions to herself and others and see them for the greedy attempts at manipulation that they invariably are. I kept waiting for someone to explain to her that the reason she didn't have any friends wasn't really because she has a bad aura or whatever, but because she's an absolute jerk to everyone. Then she could have slowly realized it was true and changed her ways, though of course keeping much of her snarky nature. But no one did, and she didn't. She is a bit nicer by the end of the book, and will probably improve further with the next one, but the revelation about the way she treats people never came.
After all that it may sound like I hated this book. I didn't, although I found much of it very tiresome. Once things actually start happening and there is a plot to follow I would say it's a decent book, with a lot of really cool concepts and fun ideas. I wanted more when it ended, things were just starting to become really interesting. I just hope in the next book there is more plot and a lot less self pity.

51 people found this helpful

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  • A
  • 2020-10-02

Conflicted about canceling JK Rowling? No worries, this is better.

Novik is queen of the remake/ upgrade.

In the way her dragon series remade Horatio Hornblower, this book is Hogwarts cleared of all the useless teachers and an extra level of danger added. Boring Harry has been sidelined to make room for a much more interesting heroine with a deeper and funnier inner life.

This is the escape to the high school from hell read we all need in 2020.

34 people found this helpful

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  • BAE
  • 2020-10-01

Fully realized, completely engaging, unexpected protagonist

And she’s mixed race, good (but it’s a struggle) and never saccharine. Naomi Novik is a master storyteller and while some of the tropes are familiar, they are made fresh by her characters. The narrator is absolutely pitch perfect.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Ray peek
  • 2020-10-05

Edgy Teen Girl goes to Magical HighSchool

The story wasn’t my type of thing. A lot of teen drama and cliques, great performance though.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Heather
  • 2020-11-18

Not your average YA

This series is YA in the same way The Hunger Games is YA: teenage protagonist but deadly stakes. Yes, there’s a focus on cliques and interpersonal drama, but in this world being part of a strong clique means you have a better chance of not getting eaten by monsters, so it’s just not the same as your average petty teenage gossip.

Here’s the thing that will be make or break for a lot of readers: one of the themes of this series is privilege. The school is basically a war zone and all the kids are trying to survive, but the kids with resources and connections have a much better chance at survival. The story is told from the perspective of a Have Not who openly resents the Haves. Some reviewers seem to interpret this as making the main character whiny, but I think this story will resonate with a lot of people.

The narration was pretty good too. There were a few places where I thought the flow was a little off – like a verbal comma in the wrong place – but it really was in only a couple of places and overall the tone of the narration seemed just right for the voice of the main character: acerbic and dryly witty.

I love this book and I am so looking forward to the next in the series. The main character is complex and cynical and intentionally a little hard to like at first, but she reveals herself to be absolutely amazing. There are strong supporting characters and plenty of action. Overall, just a really great listen.

17 people found this helpful

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  • T. Moura
  • 2020-11-21

Very weak showing by a fantastic author

This book could have benefitted from some much better editing. As it is, it's a jumble of stream-of-consciousness style with bits of plot scattered throughout. I was not impressed by the repetitive nature of the storytelling (just count the number of times the narrator describes what a Malificer is, for example). Nor was I impressed by the compulsion to tell rather than show everything about the school or most characters outside the action of the narrow scope of this first-person narrative.

When I heard this book was the first of a duology, it made sense because it does feel very stretched and verbose for what was mostly world building with some interesting action at the end.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 2020-10-08

Another home run from Naomi Novik

I found Naomi Novik through her marvellous Temeraire series and was pleased to find she had tried her hand at the well-trodden Magic School genre. But she does something new and fresh with it, and every minute is enjoyable. Novik builds an intriguing world - I am so glad this is a series because I want to know ALL about it and I have so many unanswered questions - and our heroine is smart, cynical, and wrong in all the right ways from moment one. (Those who liked Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands will definitely want to give A Deadly Education a go.) Going with El as she puzzled through problems, yells at everyone, and tries assiduously to survive school, is a great ride, and Anisha Dadia’s reading brings her to life. I can’t wait for book 2; till then, I am listening to A Deadly Education all over again.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-10-02

All Shall Love this book and Despair!

That this is the only one of the series that is currently available. It is absolutely fantastic.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric W. Brown
  • 2020-09-30

Loved it

I loved it, started a bit slow, but it's worth it.
Harry potter meets forging hephestus meets Dresden Files..

8 people found this helpful

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  • April
  • 2020-10-12

Very enjoyable

I loved the characters and the story. It is new, fun, and interesting. I'm excited that the second book is available for preorder.

5 people found this helpful