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THE GOLDEN ENCLAVES by Naomi Novik – double review!

Saving the world is a test no school of magic can prepare you for in the triumphant conclusion to the Sunday Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate.

The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out – not even the richest enclaver would tempt fate that way.

But that impossible dream has somehow come true for El and her classmates. And what’s more, she didn’t even have to become the monstrous dark witch she’s prophesised to become to make it happen. Instead of killing enclavers, she saved them, and now the world is safe for all wizards. Peace and harmony have enveloped all the enclaves of the world.

Just kidding.

Instead, someone else has picked up the project of destroying enclaves in El’s stead, and everyone she saved is at risk again with a full-scale enclave war on the horizon. And so, the first thing El needs to do after miraculously escaping the Scholomance, is to turn straight around and find a way back in.


Title : The Golden Enclaves
Author : Naomi Novik
Series : The Scholomance #3
Format : Hardback / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 496
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : DelRey UK / Del Rey Books
Release Date : September 27, 2022

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
It hurts
The reveals are huge
Clever, clever world; clever, clever author

What an utterly rich series and concept of a world The Scholomance has been. I did not expect to reset my perceptions of this world so much through the final lens of this book, but I did. The reveals Novik brought through The Golden Enclaves were pretty huge and reconceptualised the foundations for the good and bad constructs of this magical world. I was not unhappy about this, simply impressed.

The way things at the end of The Last Graduate had El in depths of despair and I was there with her. I thought the grief was well written the actions that ensued understandable (I have a spoiler tag for more info on this in my GR review). That early part of the book was captivating but a more gentle pace, then we got a blast of speed and the book took off.

I appreciated seeing life in the world outside The Scholomance. How the enclaves worked but more than that, the often priviledged people inside the enclaves with no thought to those less priviledged. That said, the story did have short periods of lull for me where I pushed through a bit and things picked up in a satisfying way. I was a little un satisfied by the wrap up on the New York mother (being vague here).

Overall, this was a great conclusion to the series and it’ll hold a happy place in my reading heart.

Thank you to DelReyUK for the review copy.


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

When I closed the chapter on this book, I was admittedly flying a little high. I thought I’d be smacking this with a four and calling it a day. But the longer it took me to sit down and write this.. the more I doubted, the more I remembered the few bits I struggled with, and so here we are.

First of all, full disclosure, I cried at two different parts. So are there emotions and do they hit? Yes and yes.

Second of all, are there some good character and plot choices along the way that make this a bit less straight forward than we’ve been told to expect (even if we doubted it would be that straight forward)? Also yes and yes.

And did the romance satisfy? Wellll.

Due to s p o i l e r s there are complications with my answer to that last one. But I’m both satisfied and not. Because Novik had El interact with another character in a way I didn’t expect but.. initially, I was fine with it. When it happened again, when circumstances had changed, though? I was not fine with it. I have a feeling, if I filter some low-rated reviews, this might be the number one complaint; outside of people being real tired and bored by the non-dialogue monologues, which, fair! It does get a lot. But honestly you have to sorta be expecting that after two whole books.. (yes, I am a hypocrite because I make the same complaints in series I don’t like but keep reading, so, pfft, it is what it is).

Obviously I can’t talk about anything else, or anything plot-related, so, was this a satisfying end? Yes and no. I was emotional, I was delighted, I was a little sad, I was surprised and also maybe disappointed, I was a lot of things. And ultimately I’m not quite sure I loved this ending enough to put this series on a favourites list — but I do think I would be up for recommending it.. and I definitely want to reread it at some point. Do with that what you will!

A DEADLY EDUCATION by Naomi Novik – double review!

In the start of an all-new series, the bestselling author of Uprooted and Spinning Silver introduces you to a dangerous school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death – until one girl begins to rewrite its rules.
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Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered.

There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal.

Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die.

El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school.

Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice.
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Wry, witty, endlessly inventive, and mordantly funny – yet with a true depth and fierce justice at its heart – this enchanting novel reminds us that there are far more important things than mere survival.


Title : A Deadly Education
Author : Naomi Novik
Series : Scholomance #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Random House UK/Cornerstone / Del Rey
Release Date : September 29, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4-4.5 star review

I’m a bit dithery over that rating, take it as 4.25 if that helps! I just about devoured this book whenever I could and it made for tasty reading. The Scholomance was a school like you’ve never imagined, a school trying to kill its pupils with brimming magic, a void and tonnes of deadly creatures.

This was a witty read and that really surprised me. We’ve definitely seen shades of Novik’s sarcastic humour through Uprooted but this story had a lighter, laugh-out-loudness to it. I thought the whole concept of The Scholomance (the boarding school for wizards) was unique. Add to that the snarkiest heroine I’ve read in a while in Galadriel (El) and it was hard for this book to put a foot wrong.

When I want to straighten my room, I get instructions on how to kill it with fire.

Odd right? Spells didn’t flow in the expected way for her, but Galadriel was not a conventional wizard by Scholomance pupil standards, she was quietly and covertly exceptional. I loved reading about her systems, her talents and the languages she was studying. Most of all, I enjoyed reading her growth in friendships. El was almost made perfect with her use of British swears. I can say that Novik wrote a Brit (she was actually Welsh) particularly well.

The begrudging friendship/white knight (not needed) in Orion made for hilarity and chuckling. It was hard not to like Orion despite his saviour complex but there’s definitely more to unpack with him and I’m so glad we hopefully get to do that in the next book.

“You know, it’s almost impressive,” he said after a moment, sounding less wobbly. “You’re nearly dead and you’re still the rudest person I’ve ever met.”

The heirarchies in the school were something else and the void was just nausea-inducing to me. This truly was the school of nightmares and I wouldn’t last more than a minute in there! I simply cannot wait for the next instalment. And so I leave you with my favourite line (kudos to Jane Eyre here).

Reader, I ran the fuck away.

Thank you to Cornerstone/Random House for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 4 star review

A DEADLY EDUCATION is like a dark mashup of Harry Potter — if the only class was Defense Against the Dark Arts — complete with the magical puberty problems and monster-attraction issues ala Percy Jackson, but if instead of Buffy we had Faith saving the world all the time.. though hella reluctantly. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This book is nothing like what I expected a book by Novik would be. This, for all the darkness and the fact that it’s set inside a castle that seems to be actively working to kill it’s residents — or at last lead it’s inhabitants into a position to die and casually look away — is funny, quippy, and strange.

Unlike Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or even Faith, we are tossed into the depths of things via Galadriel’s (El’s) point of view. She isn’t a noob blinking big innocent eyes as she wanders into this new world, no. She’s in her second to last year, having survived many years, many near deaths, with a prophecy already hanging over her head; she’s full of the bitterness and disdain from years of rejections, years of loneliness, and completely unimpressed when the school’s hero not only suddenly takes a shine to her but also saves her life.. a lot.

I liked our MC so much. I thought El’s snarky voice, her rudeness, was great. She has cultivated her niche deliberately because of circumstances completely out of her control but as delightful as she is at the onset, I loved her journey and evolution even more. Equally fun was Orion, the hero, the saviour, was equally not as one-note as he could’ve been. There are layers to both these characters and their interactions were a lot of fun as this definitely leaned into the enemies-turned-reluctant-allies-turned-friends trope. Infact, I don’t think I disliked a single character? Yes, I, too, am shook.

Though we never leave this young-person death trap of a school, Novik still manages to make her world feel big. This is helped not only because of the diversity of the students we are exposed to but, more importantly, all the Enclaves all over the world (think of them as Shadowhunter Institutes) they might be invited to after graduation if they are smart, skilled, or sought after enough. The rules are strange. I won’t explain further but.. don’t expect House points!

I had such a good time reading this, despite how different it was from my expectations, and I devoured it in less than a day. I enjoyed this so much and am very intrigued and very keen for more.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **