Ownership: One-off purchase since the shipping and tax have made Owlcrate too expensive.
When they announced the theme of Dark Academia and the hints for the book alongside the fandoms I had to order it even if it was a bit expensive. And I do not regret my choices. So let’s unbox it and see what was inside, starting from the top left and going clockwise:
A stationery set that looks like a school journal kinda thing and it has page tabs, sticky notes, a pen and a notepad in it. All very cute.
Raven Boys Book Sleeve.
From the Library Of stamp which is a nice design and you just need an ink pad in your favourite colour to mark all your books so no one steals them when they borrow them.
Riddle’s Tea Shoppe blend based on Truly Devious series.
Book tin from V.E. Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series, White London in this case. Sadly I don’t have the rest but this one is gorgeous.
Monthly Pin with a typewriter
A very delicate moon bookmark based on The Secret History.
The main book was A Lesson in Vengeance in a very soft and not dark academia type of cover which was a surprise for me.
Overall it had the right vibe with all the items in it and it felt delicate and yet dark, even if the exclusive cover was a bit of a surprise, but I liked the items and felt it was worth getting however it was still a bit steep for a regular box. Probably worth it if you are in the US and shipping isn’t prohibitive.
Content warnings: Rape, child abuse, substance abuse, various types of sexual abuse, murder, gaslighting, faecal matter consumption, heavy violence, gore, overdosing, death, suicide, blackmail, self-harm.
I like dark academia, I like magic, and this book sounded very interesting being setup in Yale. But I will start by saying that it is extremely slow burn and full of noise. It is also full of shock causing scenes that were unnecessary (there’s the rape of a 12 year old, and someone is made to eat shit, literally) and that could have been handled better.
The main story is about Alex, Galaxy Stern, going to Yale and finding that her ticket to Yale has conditions on her being able to see grays. Grays are basically ghosts. So she gets put into a society that oversees a few other societies that deal with differnet kinds of magic. The system sounds in theory really interesting and I ahve to say that the magic system was one of the most itneresting things in the story.
On top of that we have a murder mystery and the mystery of Alex’s past and why she ended up being found by the society. All of these should point to a really good intense book. And yet mostly it is a book that shows how ridiculous the society system for universities is in the US and that power is too tempting and therefore people will do anything for it.
I liked quite a bit of the story, including Dawes and Darlington and the actual reason behind the murder of Tara. That was well buitl and very intersting, alongside what happened to Darlington and what happened to Alex in the past. All came ot show what each character was made of, their motives, etc.
What I didn’t enjoy is that it was trying hard to glamourise Yale and the societies and at the same time you could see no love lost for it and it was slow and boring at times, which it then seemed to compensate by being too over the top on violence and abuse and the bad things. Like it was trying to show how bad things were but it started being a bit like “yeah, we get it, it is bad, can you just move on to the actual story instead of trying to shock me with this bit of violence?”.
I ended up warming to Alex, and to the story so at least that is good, and I will read the next one, but it was a little too hyped and trying too hard to be dark and gritty that it got itself lost in it and took a while to find the story and the heart of it.
So, I don’t recommend it overall, but if you like the components of it, and Leigh’s writing, then this may be the book for you, but you have to be warned it is dark and has a long list fo things for it to be triggers.
When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.
All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.
Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.
I can’t remember why I preordered this book (and I preordered it twice somehow, so past me, must have really wanted to read it, thanks past me), but it wasn’t a super hyped one, or one I have seen many people reviewing and that is a huge shame.
Give the Dark My Love was a punch in the gut and the brain in a very good way. (Weird way to seel this right? give me a chance). We meet Nedra when she is about to leave, and we also meet Nessie. She is her twin and you can see that even though they aren’t rich, this is a family full of love, that cares, and it is a good family (plus the parents aren’t absent exactly, and they are in a way a huge part of the story, but explaining this would be adding a spoiler and I shall leave it at that). Actually, we technically meet her in the prologue which is actually something that happens afterwards in the main story, but never mind. It is a powerful prologue and worth the read.
Then she comes to the main Academy, because she has been granted a sponsorship to help her study there. Potentially from the Emperor. And we get the usual “school/academy” intro. We also get to meet Grey, who is the other point of view for the story, and will give us his side from someone that is rich and is trying to break away from politics (because that is what his father does, and his grandfather, you get the idea).
Oh, and there is a plague happening and it starts at first quietly but it becomes worse and worse drastically, and Nedra starts toeing the line for necromancy because she can’t seem to find any other way to solve this (nor can anyone else, and her Master/senior, Master Ostrum is also trying very hard, and they both agree things just don’t seem to work).
It is very well built as a world, the alchemy part is amazing and evne the necromancy sides are very interesting. So this book kept me hooked.
But one of the things I loved the most was that it shows grief raw, and in different forms. And it was interesting to ask the question of “what are you willing to do or not do when you’re grieving and have lost so much?”. Another wonderful thing is that not everything is blakc and white, plus there are some good twists there (I guessed some, not all, and I liked seeing the twists and the reasons behind them).
In summary, this is a dark fantasy that touches closely on death (and “zombies/necromancy) but also on the human side of grief and on what the response of people can be to plague and other issues.
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.
When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.
This is a gorgeous story, and I am glad Victoria has decided to do Middle Grade because it is deliciously her flavour but with a cuter side in it (it doesn’t stop having this particular darkness in the stories and dealing with death and bad stuff).
Meet Cass, who had a near death experience and now can see ghosts. Meet Jacob who is a ghost and her best friend. And then get moved to Edinburgh and meet a very dangerous ghost.
Cass has a lot of learning to do and also a lot of adapting. One of my favourite things was the way Cass struggled with the difference between British and American English. It rang true for me as I had that same issue and it was very confusing to have to change the image of a word to a different one (I still sometimes say pants instead of trousers) and yes, I know some people found this annoying but when you are coming from one place and this is suddenly thrown into you, it is confusing. And also, don’t forget Cass is young, she will notice things in a different way.
And of course, I have been to Edinburgh a few times, so it was delightful to see Cass trekking through it and remembering being there, it just made the visualising of the story that much more real and tangible.