Beginning with A DEADLY EDUCATION, Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy is a contemporary fantasy series about magically gifted teenagers forced to struggle for survival in a school determined to destroy them.
Once a year, the fourteen-year-old magically-inclined children of the world are pulled into the Scholomance – a sentient school designed to teach them how to use their powers. After four years, those who survive are sent back to their families.
The danger inside the school pales in comparison to what waits for untrained magic-users outside the school. When they are young, their parents can protect them. However, as their powers develop, they are more likely to attract maleficaria – monsters that eat magic and the people able to cast it.
The school itself keeps most of the maleficaria out, but it is not foolproof. Students are in constant danger of being attacked. Mals are able to get into the one portal that links the Scholomance to the real world: the graduation door.
Graduation is the last gauntlet that Scholomance students have to face. In order to leave, students must face the mals that have made it inside since the previous graduation.
El has spent the last three years keeping to herself. This is part of the strategy she developed for survival: keep under the radar until her final year, then reveal her powers and find a team with a good chance of getting out alive.
And it would be working, if not for Orion Lake.
No one attracts El’s ire like Orion Lake, the golden boy of the school. He represents everything that she hates most about their world. His mother is a high-standing member of the magical organization in New York, one of the biggest in the world, and he behaves like a storybook hero. He spends all his time fighting other people’s battles – literally.
Inside the Scholomance, it is supposed to be every student for themselves. Danger lurks around every corner and the school is doing its best to put weaker students at risk – with fewer students its resources will go further, after all. Everyone has to make their own way.
Now that she is one of the most experienced students in the school, El finds herself confronted with what this philosophy actually entails. Against her better judgement, she realizes that she cannot let others get hurt when she has the power to help them.
Throughout the first two books, El builds relationships with her fellow students, letting her guard down after three years of mutual distrust between herself and her classmates.
Unfortunately, the more she learns about them, the harder it is to face that many of them will not make it out of the Scholomance. But between her closely-guarded powers and Orion’s superhero attitude, maybe they can work together to fix this broken system.
Naomi Novik’s Scholomance Trilogy concluded last fall with THE GOLDEN ENCLAVES, which starts directly after El’s graduation. Even though they are back home, El and her friends have to hit the ground running. Being magically gifted has not gotten any easier now that they are out in the real world.
Review written by: Alyssa Berry, Technical Services Librarian