WHAT? THAT’S RIGHT. We are back at here with reviews. At least for the next eight weeks. There will be one every two week. This is just because I don’t actually have that many stockpiled. I read a lot for myself than for reviews, so these are the ones I’ve been sitting on for a long while. Anyway! Let’s go.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
Synopsis From The Book
Felicity Morrow is back at the Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill Mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to finish high school. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.
Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s past. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind now, but it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.
It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she has already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called method writer. She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity to help her research the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.
And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway—and herself.
Contemporary – School Drama | YA – M |Talks of Self Harm, Suicide ideation, death before beginning, trauma, death of character (minor), death of character (major), mental illness, talks of therapy, talks of medication | Love, Identity, Coming-Of-Age, Self Certainty, exploration of trauma
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
So, I’ve seen this book all over and I’ve followed the author for a while now. I’m really excited for this novel for a multitude of reasons. Most of them revolve around a girl by the name of Felicity Morrow (I can not stress enough that I love this character and I have not even read a line yet). I’m hype. You’re hype. We’re all hype, for the fact that I am writing book reviews again and you guys are getting them. WHAT. Don’t think this means anything. Trust me. It won’t last long lol.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
WHAAA I knew I would love this book and I DID. It was so brilliant. Def is on the top of my list for recommendations for anyone who wants to read Dark Academia. It was so good. Now I need to get it in the original color way.
Felicity Morrow has returned to Dalloway School for her senior year. It is her second time attempting her senior year, as her first attempt was cut short after her best friend (and girlfriend) Alex died. Felicity has returned and everywhere she looks she sees magic and Alex. In her house there are four new girls including Ellis Haley a famed author.
Initially Felicity tries to join back into life. The girls in her dorm, however, have flocked to Ellis and ignore her. Her teachers have required her to do a new senior thesis. Her old club (a coven and private group mostly made for connections and nepotism) kicked her out. The whole school thinks her mad. She does too, for she feels Alex’s ghost is everywhere trying to haunt her, and swears magic is real. After having Felicity read her tarot fortune, Ellis Haley slowly integrates her way into Felicity’s life. When Felicity has a breakdown in an Antique shop (revealing that Alex did not die in a climbing accident, but after falling in a lake, both cases where her body was never found), Ellis and Felicity grow closer. Ellis tells Felicity more about the book she is planning and Felicity agrees to help.
To work on the book means to plan the perfect murder, and Felicity and Ellis begin to break down the Dalloway Five’s murders. The Dalloway Five are five girls from the 1700s who died at the school, accused of witch craft. Ellis’ newest book is about them and she’s determined to figure out how they actually died, instead of the sensationalized story everyone tells. They also make a coven with the other three girls in their house. In this routine and newer friendship, Felicity finds herself in a new realm of normalcy.
Ellis and Felicity continue their Night Migrations (the coven of their housemates) and practicing how to kill girls. Ellis pushes Felicity to go to Alex’s grave, where Felicity panics. Ellis and Felicity have sex doing Thanksgiving vacation and everything seems perfect until Felicity finds a book on her shelf. When she and Ellis went to the grave, Ellis had given her a book to leave and Felicity had. This same book is now back on Felicity’s shelf. She panics and the next morning its gone. She freaks out and tries to return to normalcy, when she finds it again and decides to confront Alex. At Alex’s grave, she digs up the coffin, and finds Clara, one of her housemates, dead in the coffin. Immediately Felicity knows that Ellis did it. Not only did Ellis kill Clara, she framed Felicity with it (murder weapon with Felicity’s fingerprints, after they hunted a coyote in the woods, and on the coffin, and on the book and everything). Ellis threatens her, and they narrowly escape the police.
Felicity killed Alex all those years ago, by accidentally pushing Alex off the cliff, but Alex had dragged herself out of the water and Felicity had hurried the body under her dorm house, never to be found. Ellis, who has threaten Felicity into silence, can not be kept alive. Thus with much planning, Felicity gets Ellis to the top of a roof and kills her by pushing her off the roof. Felicity left a note from Ellis, essentially confirming that Ellis killed Clara, and Felicity gets away scot free. At the funeral, Ellis’ parents try to give Felicity the final book Ellis ever wrote and instead Felicity never takes it.
Three years later she’s in London with a girl she does not love, planning where she is going to go next.
What I Liked:
Felicity; I actually really liked her. I do think that the part of her not remembering the exact details of Alex’s death could have been executed better, but in general I appreciated the aspect as a coping mechanism. Also the ending? Great.
Ellis; She was wild and I adore that. I really do like the characters that push their art too far, and she was a great variation for it. I was waiting for the ball to drop the whole time, but she was brilliant.
Other Dalloway Girls; They were sweet for what we got of them.
Writing Style; I do like Victoria Lee’s writing style throughout this book. I liked the way that they built the atmosphere and the world of the novel. Also the darkness and creepiness was excellent.
Murder + Dark Academia; This book def hit the dark academia vibes. It wasn’t as dark or thorough as some dark academia novels that I’ve read but for the age range I thought this did really well. The murders (as there is always a death in dark academia) were well done, I think at least.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Dalloway Girls; I wish we got more of them, because they were interesting but I don’t think I saw enough of them.
Why You Should Read:
Two girls get into an affair crossing magic, the past, and a dedication to novels. Mixing dark academia with witches and love, we find Felicity and Elis falling into a web of lies and deceit. If you like dark academia, but you want something easier to read than The Secret History, or girl school dramas, this book is you. Watch as beauty is corrupted and enjoy the ride.
“I want to unravel her.” – pg 17
“It turns out that I cannot face the real world without the taste of lies in my mouth and liquor in my blood.” – pg 33