Review – A Deadly Education (Scholomancer #1) by Naomi Novik

I loved Naomi Novik’s books. Uprooted was a huge success and I loved it! Spinning Silver was a mixed affair but I enjoyed it very much. And now this! Who doesn’t like a magic school setting? Add the fact that it’s dangerous and you might die instead of graduating and I’m already sold before reading it 🙂

This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley & Del Rey in return for an honest review. Thank you!

A Deadly Education (Scholomancer #1)

by Naomi Novik

Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered.

There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal.

Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die.

El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school.

Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice.

Edit: I always try to make my reviews as honey as possible without the interference of other people opinions. I therefore write my review before reading others. On reflection of reading others reviews I have been made aware of the poor Indian rep the main character is and how ignored her cultural heritage is. As a white person from a white society, this went completely over my head went I read it. Looking back it’s incredible obvious in the text. There is hardly nay mentioned of her heritage unless it’s the language or the screaming scared grandmother (or was it the aunt?). This changes the way I feel about the book. My main love for this book was the world, the school and how it all works, this has not changed. However, I feel the author could have put more effort into sensitivity readers and handled the mixed heritage better in the text to make the character more realistic and more complex. I hope this issue is addressed in the next instalment and I will try and keep an eye out for it this time.

  • the magic school setting
  • the main character’s anger and snark

This was fun! I loved the world!

I went in thinking this was the type of school where Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games. “If you survive you have graduated” yes, but I thought students were taking down other students making it a deadly and fierce competition. It’s not. And having read it, I’m so glad it’s not! This school draws in the dark things from the shadows completely naturally. Having a bunch of young magical energy in one place will do that. There are no teachers as they don’t last long, but there is a void in everyone’s room (or cell as the main character refers to it) and you can ask for a spell and the void throws out a book or two. Unlucky for the MC, the void sends her the explosive and destructive spells when all she wants is a spell that cleans the floor. I loved how the world seems to be against her and she is trying so hard not to fall down that rabbit hole.

This is a character-driven story following El or Galadriel (yes from her mum’s obsession with Lord of the Rings)as she attends magic school. In this book, she is one year from graduation and is trying to be invisible and keep her head down. That is until the school hero decides to save her from a soul eater leaving a complete mess on the floor for her to clean up. Turns out this hero finds her snark and ungratefulness refreshing and sticks around. El starts finding people are interested in talking to her considering her new “friend”. She has been in this school for 6 years and only now people see her. There are downsides to the heroism of her new friend and El finds herself having to deal with it all but picking up new friends along the way never letting go of the snark.

As this book is character driven every twist and turn was unknown to me. It all depended on the characters will and intentions. I could’t predict the story line as I didn’t know what would happen. I enjoyed it a lot.

It’s well done and easily followed. It’s clearly set in our world with the magical elements being ignored and invisible to the mundane. Also turns out that magic is more difficult to perform in front of mundanes and takes more energy than normal. I like this bit, it adds a complication.

The world itself is folder piece by piece without you wanting t know more. You are given the exact right amount of information at any step. I found I didn’t have questions about the world. I was always fed some information about the book. The worldbuilding doesn’t really stop as there is so much information about the school but its a feed at the right times and the right amounts throughout the entire book.

The magic is fascinating. It’s the type that draws on the life energies of the world. You can build up your own energy (called mana) and store it. In this book, the main character builds her energies by working out which has made her quite fit by the end of her education. 500 jumping jacks will cover a spell! I hate jumping jacks LOL. She can also build it up by crocheting as it takes a lot of concentration. You can draw energies from other living creatures and objects. If you do that you are considered malicious or bad.

El is such an angry emo teen! I loved it! Filled with snarky and sarcastic comments at every turn. And knowing her I don’t blame her for being angry and annoyed. The world is so against her. The world wants her to be bad, but she doesn’t! haha! But then she starts getting friends and you realise she is so much more.


This book didn’t have a lot of dialogue and normally I hate that. It makes the story feel heavy and sluggish. This didn’t though. I think a lot of El’s snark and sarcasm lifted it all and made it funny which is easier to read. Also, the world and the school was so interesting that all that information which was tucked into everything made me want to read on and know more.

I had no issues with spelling, sentences, the layout of paragraph or formatting of the text.

I loved it and I can’t wait for the next book!

Have you read this? What did you think?

4 thoughts on “Review – A Deadly Education (Scholomancer #1) by Naomi Novik

  1. Glad to see such a positive review of this one! I’ve heard mixed things and it was starting to make me nervous! I also loved Uprooted–I keep putting off Spinning Silver because I’m not sure if it will be to my taste but this review of the new one bodes well for me, I think. Thanks for your thoughts, Ivy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! If you do read it, I hope you like it 🙂 I do understand why some people wont like it. its not a pot driven book, its all character and difficult to see ahead. And also the lack of dialogue. But I do hope you like it. You’re welcome 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This book sounds absolutely amazing! I was doubting a bit about reading this since I did not like Spinnign Silver, and have not rewad Uprooted. But the premise is so good, I just need to read it!
    Great review!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea there seems to be a mix reviews about it and having read it I can see why. Its a purely character driven book and there is a lack of dialogue, but I still enjoyed it a lot! I hope you like it if you ever read it 🙂 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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