cover image A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education

Naomi Novik. Del Rey, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-59312-848-0

Novik (Spinning Silver) puts a refreshingly dark, adult spin on the magical boarding school setting of the spellbinding first fantasy in her Scholomance trilogy. The students of Scholomance, a boarding school for sorcerers, must weather survival-of-the-fittest trials, fighting off the Lovecraftian monsters known as maleficaria (or “mals”) that routinely break in to eat students. Graduation is the greatest challenge of all, and requires the students to fight their way through the sea of mals clustered outside the building. Dark sorceress El (short for Galadriel) has a plan for how she’ll make it through the gates alive next year: she’ll learn to control her affinity for destruction, make allies by impressing other students with her abilities, and stockpile magical energy. But monster-slayer Orion Lake throws a wrench in the works. He keeps saving El before she can display her talents, and has killed so many lesser mals that the ones left are huge—and hungry. El and Orion must strike up an alliance to save themselves and their schoolmates from monstrous destruction. 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. This is a must-read for fantasy fans. (Oct.)