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A Lesson in Vengeance

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For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past. Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, aft For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past. Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds. Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget. It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.


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For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past. Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, aft For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past. Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds. Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget. It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

30 review for A Lesson in Vengeance

  1. 5 out of 5

    chai ♡

    SAPPHIC DARK ACADEMIA? [aggressively smashes that want-to-read button]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Lee

    i mean if you like lesbians and dark academia i guess you could read this -- now that ARCs are available, i've added the content warnings for this book on my website. you can check them out here. i mean if you like lesbians and dark academia i guess you could read this -- now that ARCs are available, i've added the content warnings for this book on my website. you can check them out here.

  3. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    obligatory reminder that Victoria Lee is giving the gays what we deserve with this sapphic dark academia book releasing next year!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    daph pink ♡

    *takes heart out of my chest* thank you for this book. ps:- can i read this rn?*puppy eyes*

  5. 5 out of 5

    mina reads™️

    Did you say sapphic dark academia???? SIGN ME UP UPDATE WE HAVE A COVER I REPEAT WE HAVE A COVER

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEE DARK ACADEMIA SAPPHICS COMING OUT DAYS BEFORE MY BIRTHDAYYYYY as the local sapphic dark academia gothic girl I think this ought to be one of my most anticipated 2021 releases also goodness me, this Tor interview Victoria Lee did for the cover reveal is literally . . . peak sexy intellectual vibes there's no other way to describe it ** friend: hey ellie you like dark academia right? me: absolutely friend: and lgbtq+ books? me: hella yes I do friend: well there’s this new sapphic HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEE DARK ACADEMIA SAPPHICS COMING OUT DAYS BEFORE MY BIRTHDAYYYYY as the local sapphic dark academia gothic girl I think this ought to be one of my most anticipated 2021 releases also goodness me, this Tor interview Victoria Lee did for the cover reveal is literally . . . peak sexy intellectual vibes there's no other way to describe it ** friend: hey ellie you like dark academia right? me: absolutely friend: and lgbtq+ books? me: hella yes I do friend: well there’s this new sapphic dark academia book— me: *ascends to a higher plane of existence* this book is going to ruin my life and it isn’t even out yet. let’s go sapphics!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    i /need/ this... so very badly Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch i /need/ this... so very badly Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lacey

    This is everything I've ever wanted. -Dark academia -Sapphic -Boarding school -Witchcraft -Mysterious deaths -A writer I need it. Now. This is everything I've ever wanted. -Dark academia -Sapphic -Boarding school -Witchcraft -Mysterious deaths -A writer I need it. Now.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tes - paperbackbones

    I've already read this incredible story & I cannot wait until it's out in the world! 🖤 I've already read this incredible story & I cannot wait until it's out in the world! 🖤

  10. 5 out of 5

    theresa

    sapphic dark academia!! gothic lesbian murder book!! i need!! LESBIANS WEARING BLAZERS WITH ELBOW PATCHES!! THIS BOOK IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!! I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter sapphic dark academia!! gothic lesbian murder book!! i need!! LESBIANS WEARING BLAZERS WITH ELBOW PATCHES!! THIS BOOK IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!! I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

  11. 4 out of 5

    ash | novelly rooted

    measuring the progression of time by book release dates is such a moOD

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eliza ☽

    The words "sapphic dark academia" just activated my final form. I am unstoppable now that I know this book exists in the world and I will read it one day. The words "sapphic dark academia" just activated my final form. I am unstoppable now that I know this book exists in the world and I will read it one day.

  13. 5 out of 5

    E.

    This is sapphic dark academia and I need it NOW 😭😭😭 Also, it has official art already!! This is sapphic dark academia and I need it NOW 😭😭😭 Also, it has official art already!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    SAPPHIC. DARK. ACADEMIA. need i say more??

  15. 5 out of 5

    lily ☁️

    spooky season x dark academia x lgbtq+ rep ft. sapphics [lets out a breath that has been held for months and months]: watch me devour this book and love every single second of it Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ spooky season x dark academia x lgbtq+ rep ft. sapphics [lets out a breath that has been held for months and months]: watch me devour this book and love every single second of it Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin’

  16. 4 out of 5

    Romie

    this? just literally what dreams are made of. i'm fine. this? just literally what dreams are made of. i'm fine.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ash | Wild Heart Reads

    Want to read is to gentle to describe how much I need this book

  18. 4 out of 5

    booksneedcaffeinetoo

    victoria says this is their “gothic lesbian murder book” and it’s like they have a direct link into my mind of the type of content i want to read 🖤🖤🖤

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maëlys

    this will single-handedly save the dark academia genre <3 Youtube ☆ Twitter this will single-handedly save the dark academia genre <3 Youtube ☆ Twitter

  20. 4 out of 5

    whitney ༅:*・゚

    someone said sapphic dark academia? hello i am here and i sTAN ALREADY-

  21. 4 out of 5

    chan

    this may, in fact, be everything i have EVER wanted in a book

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ava Reid

    I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this, and (unsurprisingly, since I adored Lee's FEVERWAKE series) it blew me away. This is a contemporary thriller, with very light speculative elements, where FEVERWAKE is of course sci-fi, but this shares with FEVERWAKE Lee's tight, deft plotting, intimate and nuanced characterizations, and devastatingly beautiful - yet still propulsive - writing. There are shades of THE SECRET HISTORY here, but ALIV is more than that: it's a disturbing yet sympathet I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this, and (unsurprisingly, since I adored Lee's FEVERWAKE series) it blew me away. This is a contemporary thriller, with very light speculative elements, where FEVERWAKE is of course sci-fi, but this shares with FEVERWAKE Lee's tight, deft plotting, intimate and nuanced characterizations, and devastatingly beautiful - yet still propulsive - writing. There are shades of THE SECRET HISTORY here, but ALIV is more than that: it's a disturbing yet sympathetic portrait of a traumatized, mentally ill girl, a razor-toothed romance, and a story of the ghosts we cannot exorcise. It's deeply intellectual, yet very accessible - Lee's prose cuts to the bone. It's a thriller, yes, but it's also a rumination on trauma, psychopathy, class privilege, gender, sexuality, and morality. I would say, ultimately, it's a book about being possessed: whether it's Felicity haunted by ghosts both real and imagined or Ellis driven to extreme lengths by her desire to produce art. It possessed me as a reader, too. By the time the book heads into the third act, I was flipping the pages frantically, carried to its twisty, pulse-racing conclusion. A smart, layered, thought-provoking thriller about female desire and the intimacy of violence.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Any book summary that contains the phrase "...meets The Craft" immediately goes on my tbr shelf!! Any book summary that contains the phrase "...meets The Craft" immediately goes on my tbr shelf!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    ilsa➹

    i haven't even read anything by by victoria lee but i saw sapphic dark academia and i never have added a book so fast to my tbr also 2021? PAIN i haven't even read anything by by victoria lee but i saw sapphic dark academia and i never have added a book so fast to my tbr also 2021? PAIN

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Crunden

    I am here 1000% here for LGBT dark academia. SIGN ME UP.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    THAT COVER. I WANT.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vee

    "only to meet a new student and teenage literary prodigy who transferred to research the school’s bloody history, and recruits Felicity into a murderous experiment of their own" non-binary character mebbe? pls "only to meet a new student and teenage literary prodigy who transferred to research the school’s bloody history, and recruits Felicity into a murderous experiment of their own" non-binary character mebbe? pls

  28. 5 out of 5

    caitlin ✶

    victoria lee is an auto-read for me, no question about it 🖤

  29. 5 out of 5

    Landice (Manic Femme Reviews)

    Sapphic Dark Academia??? NOT A WANT, BUT A NEED!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Tang

    I have an accidental-but-very-useful habit of stumbling into Victoria Lee's novels during times of inevitable crises minor and major in my life -- I fell in love with THE FEVER KING while weathering a somewhat anxiety-inducing career transition, and read THE ELECTRIC HEIR during a particularly drippy depressive episode during which V's book was one of maybe five things I could have counted on, at the time, to motivate me to do anything other than lie facedown in a self-pitying heap on the floor. I have an accidental-but-very-useful habit of stumbling into Victoria Lee's novels during times of inevitable crises minor and major in my life -- I fell in love with THE FEVER KING while weathering a somewhat anxiety-inducing career transition, and read THE ELECTRIC HEIR during a particularly drippy depressive episode during which V's book was one of maybe five things I could have counted on, at the time, to motivate me to do anything other than lie facedown in a self-pitying heap on the floor. All this to say: true to tradition, A LESSON IN VENGEANCE dropped into my lap smack dab in the middle of the 2020 pandemic. I'm not sure I'll ever be quite certain of how V got so good at so thoroughly distracting me from my various bouts of periodic, existential fretting, but Felicity and Ellis's adventures absolutely delivered, and then some. Their story is dark and delicious and utterly twisted --there's a scene not-quite-halfway through the book that I count as the first time a piece of written text has legitimately jump-scared me. Bookish witchcraft (both figurative and literal)! It's exactly what it says on the tin -- dark academia in the vein of THE SECRET HISTORY, but while nodding to Donna Tartt, ALIV also stands uniquely on its own. It is, for lack of a better way to articulate this, the exact book I, as a teen obsessed with THE SECRET HISTORY, would have wanted to read right after reading Tartt's novel. It successfully conveys the same mood, the same intoxicating atmosphere of a precociously picturesque campus culture with ~something dark lurking beneath~, but ALIV's characters are plagued by their own demons, and ALIV has its own place to forge within the genre. It's not so much a retread of THE SECRET HISTORY as it is a book that will very likely make you feel, by its own means, the same way THE SECRET HISTORY made you feel. It's a different sort of book from the FEVERWAKE duology, but a lot of what made the FEVERWAKE novels so good remains present here: the depth and complexity of character and messy lines drawn between heroes and villains, the tongue-in-cheek self awareness of both the beauty and darkness of ambitious academic culture from someone who's clearly lived both the good and bad, and a deeply-felt, precisely atmospheric skill at scene-setting and voice. Also, for the writers among us, Ellis is somehow simultaneously A Whole Mood (TM), our worst nightmare (to become or to encounter? the answer: yes), and a bit of a darkly self-satirical id. It's strangely delightful to find all of that encompassed by one improbably charismatic character, and she's buoyed by an equally compelling protagonist in Felicity.

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