“It’s a character study”, she says. “I want to explore the gradations of human morality: how indifference can slide into evil, what drives a person toward murder. And I want to interrogate the concept of the psychopath: whether villainy exists in that truest form or if it’s simply a manifestation of some human drive that lurks in all of us.”
A Lesson in Vengeance is a great novel.
We follow the journey of Felicity Morrow on her last year at Dalloway School, in fact, she is repeating the year after failing the first time, because last year her best friend, Alex, died. And she was very devastated by it. She’s doing research on the history of the school, particularly the Dalloway Five, five girls who died at the school and that people suspect of doing witchcraft.
Dalloway school is a boarding school for only girls, so yes this book is a sapphic dark academia! The girls study literature, in fact, the MC’s love interest is a writer and I found this part of the book to be very well done, especially the early chapters of the book that really set the foundation for the whole novel.
This is a very devourable story, the writing is good and compelling and I was really invested in the story. I think that the only downside for me was the ending, particularly the last 20% that felt a bit rushed. And not all things were too believable, I mean they were believable but I felt that if there was a little bit more time to construct them it would really be a masterful ending.
Something I loved was the relationship of the two girls, and the construction of their personalities, and of their relationship with one another. They are very three-dimensional characters and felt really like real people to me, especially Felicity and her trauma and the way she navigates the world. I also felt that the relationship between them portrayed a bit of abusive relationship, more specifically psychological abuse, and it was done really well.
This is the type of stories, that draws inspiration from gothic narratives, that creates a lush and dark atmosphere that keeps you guessing until the end. If the protagonist is losing her mind or if this is really happening. If she is truly being haunted by something supernatural. I loved this ambiance and the dubiety that was present in this story.
Overall this was a great book and I recommend it a lot!
Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.