Writer Reading Report: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education released on 29 September, 2020, and I could not be more excited to tell the world about it. (I received an ARC through NetGalley so I’ve been sitting on this for a bit.)

Below the description you’ll find a gushing review, but the TL;DR is this: this is GOBSMACKINGLY good and I hope it wins awards and becomes a huge epic series because it is made of familiar ideas twisted on their ears and so thumped hard they became AN ASTONISHING NEW THING.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

(from the NetGalley description.)

I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects me to do. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school itself certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.

I don’t think I have ever related to a protagonist so hard. Galadriel Higgins and her struggles to be herself and be a real human being kept me up past my bedtime and got me out of bed early two days running.

  1. This is a wizard school without teachers. It’s a death trap. Graduation is escape. (That isn’t a spoiler. It’s the PREMISE.)
  2. These are kids wrestling with big issues and growing up without the slightest bit of direct adult guidance, and the way they fumble through their relationships is raw and awkward
  3. The magic system is brilliantly self-contained and internally consistent and yet the way magic is woven into the story keeps it mysterious and uncontrollable and also a limited resource and a hazard–it’s EVERYTHING. I love the way its use and abuse and availability never stand in for any other kind of worldly power. Magic is just another whole axis of power & privilege added to the complexity of being human.

This had BETTER be the first of a series. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but dangggggg, I want so much more of this world & these characters.

AAGGGHHHH I DON’T WANT TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR OR MORE. But I will. I will do what I must. I will be patient. And I’ll re-read this a time or few before then. Just to visit these characters.

That’s it for this time. Until later, happy reading!

Writer Reading Report: Smoke Bitten

Thanks to NetGalley, I received two ARCs (advanced reader copies) of upcoming novels by two of my favorite authors. Here be my short but heartfelt reviews of the first one I finished. It’s out now, so you don’t even have to wait!

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs.

I expect most people interested in Smoke Bitten have read some or all of the preceding books. Smoke Bitten is the twelfth in an urban fantasy series about Mercy Thompson,  part-time coyote, full-time auto mechanic, Volkswagon owner, seer of ghosts, and neighbor to a werewolf alpha.

So if you’re checking reviews because this book looks interesting, you’re right! It is!

I always recommend starting at the beginning of any series as well=established as this one–or at least with a book closer to the beginning.  That said, if this is the only Mercy Thompson book you can find, it’s a great chapter in the ongoing saga, and a decent introduction to the complex, entertaining dynamics between members of an ever-increasing cast.

Honestly, any plot summary without spoilers would be either redundant or too vague to be useful. The important points. First, as with most other books in the series, the events in Smoke Bitten take place over a very short time frame.  Second, the action is local, and the stakes more personal than world-changing.

The plot shines brightest when Mercy is dealing with her friends and family. Often she’s making hard choices between people and rules, between principle and practicality. In this book, a problem arises from the solutions to problems resolved in previous books.

It’s a tangle of big personalities, old grudges, and buried mysteries, with all the emotionally satisfying, complicated I’ve come to expect from this author.

 

Would You Read This Book?

My upcoming novel is one step closer to reality.  I have a description to go on my lovely book cover, plus a shorter blurb for online sales sites.  Now I just have to condense it into a one-breath quick pitch.  Yeah. “Just.” Like that won’t take hours and days and weeks of practice.

But I digress. Behold!


The Sharp Edge of Yesterday:

Grace Reed is on the run with devastation hot on her heels. She escaped a religious cult and rescued her children from her ex-husband, but she cannot escape her fate. She is due for rollover – her midlife superpower coming into play—and only time will tell how powerful she will become.

That puts her on the government radar as a threat to society.

SEoY Cover w Title webBig rollovers mean big trouble, and big problems get eliminated. Department of Public Safety Agent Valerie Wade is assigned to Grace’s case and must choose between following orders or fighting for her client’s life. Grace must not only overcome her past traumas and survive rollover, she also has to protect her family and safeguard their futures.

Luckily for Grace, she has super-powered friends on her side. Valerie’s allies Jack, Elena, and Amy will pit their every skill and talent against all odds to flip the outcome in Grace’s favor.


Does the blurb tempt and tease? I sure hope so. If you haven’t met the characters yet (except for Grace) they each have a story in the book Rough Passages, available now from many libraries & booksellers online & off.

(THERE’S ALSO A HANDY LINK HERE ON THIS BLOG, WOW!)

The Sharp Edge of Yesterday is on target to release (or at least be ready for pre-orders) by Gen Con at the end of July. (Have I mentioned that I’ll have a table on Author’s Avenue at Gen Con again this year? I WILL!)

And before that, I’ll be at Capricon (THIS WEEK!) and Cleveland ConCoction in Late March. With books. Rough Passages and all the books from the Restoration series too.

There. I think that’s everything. We’re all caught up. Happy reading.

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