The hype around this book was real, and when I first started it I was nervous it wouldn’t live up to it. But it did. It felt like Middlegame meets All of Us Villains, both of which I loved, and I really enjoyed this intriguing, character-driven dark academia fantasy – even if I did desperately want to punch of of the characters in the face.
Thanks to Tor for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…
– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.
When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.
What did I think?
I’ll be the first to admit that in the early chapters of this book, I was a bit worried that I was going to hate it. There was a lot of information and a lot of intelligent concepts for my puny brain to handle. Then I blinked and I was over halfway through the book and having the best time ever. The dark academia style magical world was really interesting, though I’m sure that some of the logic of it had flown over my head. I didn’t mind that too much, though, as I understood enough of the concept to know what was happening in the book even though it was significantly smarter than me.
For me, the biggest drive was the characters – for good or for bad. I loved a couple of the characters to death, and one of them I hated so much I wished only death for him. At the start of the book I only really liked Reina, but slowly Libby and Nico won me over with their inseparable rivalry. They can’t cope without each other and hate that. It’s my favourite dynamic. I was slow to warm to Parisa and Tristan, but eventually loved them too. I never warmed to Callum. Fuck that guy. The rest of them? I hope we get a five way poly relationship eventually, because they’re all terrors and deserve each other.
This book is hard to explain. It’s Middlegame-meets-All of Us Villains, and has the same claustrophic puzzle-y atmosphere as Gideon the Ninth during Canaan House. I can’t wait for the second book, but I already just know I’m going to have to reread it to catch all of the details I missed the first time. The plot is competitive and fantastical first, then took a left turn I did not see coming and kept me engaged enough to read the whole thing in one sitting. I don’t want to talk about this book in too much detail, not because it was bad (it absolutely was not) but because I think you should all go into this book blind and let it wash you away.
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Release Date: 1st March 2022