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A Lesson in Vengeance av Victoria Lee

A Lesson in Vengeance (utgåvan 2021)

av Victoria Lee (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner
1463148,739 (3.88)Ingen/inga
Titel:A Lesson in Vengeance
Författare:Victoria Lee (Författare)
Info:Delacorte Press (2021), 384 pages
Samlingar:Front Room


A Lesson in Vengeance av Victoria Lee


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Visar 3 av 3
Huh. Well, that was a bit lackluster.

I had high hopes going into this book, but it never really lived up to them. It's terribly predictable, there weren't any big twists or 'wow' moments for me. The characters are pretty unlikable and a few of them felt thrown in the story just because the author wanted more diversity.

I felt like the start of the book had great bones, but it just tapered off as I got closer and closer to the end...and then, it just ended. Overall it's a haunting story wrapped up in a bit of mystery and darkness. It's a good read if you aren't expecting too much out of the plot.

Thank you Delacorte Press via NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and honestly review. ( )
  Lea.Pearl | Jul 20, 2021 |
Literary Merit: Excellent
Characterization: Excellent
Recommended: Yes
Level: High School

This book was an absolute roller coaster from beginning to end, and I'm still reeling from all the twists and turns it took. After a quick glance at the premise, I knew I had to give this one a shot, and I certainly was not disappointed. While there are a few ends I wish had been tied up in the end, I really appreciate Lee's ability to keep the reader hanging at the end of every single chapter. Seriously; once I hit the halfway point, I literally couldn't put this book down. I'll attempt to keep my thoughts brief, but knowing my track record, that's not likely to happen.

A Lesson in Vengeance follows the story of 17-year-old Felicity Morrow, who has just returned to her elite boarding school after taking a year to focus on her mental health. During her senior year, her best friend (and ex-girlfriend) Alex died in a terrible accident, and Felicity hasn't been able to forgive herself since. Upon her return to the legendary Dalloway school, Felicity sees Alex everywhere, fearing that her former best friend is haunting her out of vengeance.

Felicity then meets the mysterious Ellis Haley, a teen writing prodigy looking for inspiration for her next literary masterpiece. Ellis, like Felicity, is intrigued by the infamous Dalloway Five; five girls who died in brutal and mysterious ways years ago on the school grounds. Many feared the girls to be witches, but Ellis is determined to prove that it was murder - not magic - that led to their demise. Reluctantly, Felicity agrees to help Ellis recreate their "rituals" in an effort to gain inspiration for her novel, roping the other girls into their plot. As the two grow ever closer, painful memories begin to surface for Felicity, forcing her to confront her past while making sense of her chaotic present.

In her author's note, Lee mentions that she wanted to write a book about "lesbian dark academia," and after reading the book, I'd have to say she NAILED IT. This book was a beautifully written nail-biter from beginning to end, filling me with the desire to know more at the turn of every page. The novel begins with Felicity returning to school in a bit of a depressive funk. She still blames herself for her friend's death and has debilitating PTSD, but we don't learn exactly how her friend died until much later (or that they were much closer than just friends). Right off the bat, Lee is handing us a little bit of the info while leaving us with more questions, leading us to keep reading, and I LOVED that. There's nothing like a little suspense to motivate me to keep reading just one more chapter, and Lee handled this beautifully.

I also really loved Lee's writing style in general, which really puts the reader into the scene. Her descriptions are so vivid that you almost feel like you're there with the characters, seeing what they see and feeling what they feel. I got the creepy boarding school vibe almost immediately, as the atmosphere was set from the very first page. I can certainly tell that a lot of passion went into this book, which really came out in the writing and the realistic characters.

Lee tackles quite a few dark subjects in this book, from classism and white privilege to mental illness and murder. Each character plays a very important role within the story, whether it is establishing the bonds between the girls or showing the darker side of this elite boarding school. One poignant moment that stood out to me was the moment where Leonie (one of the other girls in Felicity's house) talks about being ostracized by some of the other girls at the school because of her skin color and background.

Leonie explains that she has had to be cautious from the very beginning, as most of the girls at Dalloway school can get away with whatever they want because they're rich and white. Felicity reflects on this later in the book while being interrogated by police, acknowledging that they would never suspect her of a thing because of her skin color and social status, and I thought this was a very important conversation to have in today's political climate. This is one of many moments in which a very serious issue is handled with care and subtlety, and I really appreciated Lee's willingness to tackle tough subjects in her work.

Another thing I really appreciated in this book was the diversity. Not only are there characters of color, but there are also lesbians and a non-binary character as well. Felicity and Ellis form a relationship as the novel progresses, but it is also revealed that Ellis and her non-binary sibling Quinn were raised by two mothers themselves. While Felicity has not felt comfortable outing herself to her housemates or the rest of the school, the LGBTQ+ characters in the book are not sensationalized or used as trauma porn or tokens.

The LGBTQ+ relationships are instead normalized, presented the way any heterosexual relationship might be - flaws and all. As much as I appreciate coming out stories, I appreciate casual representation much more. While Felicity's sexuality is important to her character, it is not the sole focus of the book. Instead, the book focuses far more on her mental health as she struggles to separate fiction from reality and come to terms with her ex-girlfriend's death. When she does finally come out to Leonie, her friend is entirely supportive, telling her she's sure the other girls wouldn't think anything of it either. I appreciated the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters in this book, and appreciated it even more because it was primarily a mystery/thriller that just happened to include LGBTQ+ characters.

As someone who suffers from a mental illness, I also liked how this book handled mental illness. It is mentioned many times throughout the book that Felicity has seen both a psychiatrist and a therapist for her mental illness, and even takes medication to help her cope. The book also acknowledges, however, that some people do not like taking medication because it alters their personality so drastically. While Felicity does not actively seek help from a therapist during the novel, she is very clearly working towards healing in her own ways.

With the aid of Ellis, Felicity begins to unravel what is real and what isn't, and eventually confronts her own guilt and shame over what happened to Alex. By the end, she isn't completely healed (mental illness is usually far more complicated than this), but it's clear she's in a better place emotionally than she was at the beginning of the novel. Mental illness can be a difficult subject to tackle, but I think Lee handled it with grace and understanding.

My only real gripe with this book is that it left some of the plot threads unfinished, likely on purpose. We meet several characters throughout this book, and many of their stories are left open-ended. For example, we never learn what happens with Clara (I'm purposely leaving out details so as not to spoil the plot twist), and we also never see what becomes of the other girls in the house. The novel also hints that Felicity will likely face scrutiny and backlash for revealing the true nature of her thesis to her professor, and this looming threat is never resolved. We never learn if she was allowed to complete her thesis as she wished, or forced to scrap it in favor of a different topic. These are minor details, of course, but I would have liked to see these plot threads resolved.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm not usually a fan of mysteries and thrillers (I much prefer fantasy and light-hearted romance), but this book really hooked me from the very beginning. The twists and turns are incredible, and I truly didn't see the final twist coming at all. I loved not knowing whether Felicity could truly trust Ellis, or what her true motives were throughout the story. Lee truly has a way with words, and the end of almost every chapter had a cliff-hanger that left me wanting to read more.

I think fans or horror, mysteries, and suspense will really enjoy this novel, particularly if they enjoy discussions about the occult or books set in mysterious boarding schools. As an added bonus, the cast of characters is diverse, and none of the characters every feel like a token or caricature of the community they're representing. I look forward to reading more of Lee's work in the future, as I think she's an extremely talented writer with a knack for descriptive storytelling. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next! ( )
  SWONroyal | Jun 20, 2021 |
I am here 1000% here for LGBT dark academia. SIGN ME UP.
  rjcrunden | Feb 2, 2021 |
Visar 3 av 3
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