Monday, November 29, 2021

Review: A LESSON IN VENGEANCE by Victoria Lee


Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Like everyone else, I have been into dark academia books lately, so when I heard this pitched as a sapphic dark academia mystery, combined with that gorgeous cover, I was totally interested. 

This story takes place at Dalloway School, where Felicity returns to school after a year away following the death of her best friend and girlfriend, Alex. She ends up rooming with bestselling novelist, 17-year-old Ellis Haley, who everyone is obsessed with but who Felicity isn't so sure about. Ellis is working on her next novel, and she wants to use Dalloway's haunted history for inspiration, and she ends up dragging Felicity into her research. 

As the rumor goes, a long time ago at the school, these five girls nicknamed the Dalloway Five got involved with occult magic, and then they each died one after another in mysterious ways. No one is supposed to talk about it, but Ellis is fascinated by their story and wants to recreate the Dalloway Fiveall for research for her new novel, of course. 

The first half of this book is more like a passive mystery. You follow Felicity as she returns to school a pariah, and she is recounting Alex's death to Ellis piece by piece. So it's kind of a mystery of what happened to Alex, but since it's all in the past and the reader has no emotional attachment to Alex, it's not super compelling to read about since we already know the outcome. But then around the halfway mark of the book is when the story takes a turn and Felicity teams up with Ellis to do research for her book, and it gets a lot more interesting then. There was an air of something is off, something bad is going to happen but I don't know what, and I really like it when books are able to evoke that feeling in me. 

A Lesson in Vengeance features occult practices like using ouija boards to communicate with dead spirits, predicting the future with tarot cards, performing seances, and having midnight rituals in the woods. I love how all of that added to the atmosphere of the book. It really fits into the centuries-old, ivy-covered boarding school setting. 

Victoria's writing in this book is extraordinary. Her prose is very atmospheric so it fits right in with the vibe of the book, plus she writes in a way that sounds intellectual without being pretentious, which I absolutely loved. I cannot wait to see what she writes next because I already want to read it. 

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