I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy Dark Academia Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 1 star/DNF at 26% Series: yes - first book of trilogy
The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…
Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds
Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself
Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched
Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe
Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask
When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
First DNF of the year. I wanted to DNF from about 10% but made myself read through the first quarter in case time helped me ease into it more. It did not.
This is a massively hyped book, but I just found it so boring.
I didn’t care about any of the characters, who simply came across as horrible, unlikeable people out for their own gain and that was it. They felt so one dimensional, without a reason for me to root for them to win. Powerful people without humanising aspects don’t interest me, all either revelling in their power/wanting to beat others because competitive or not interested in their power. We have:
- The two bickering enemies who are probably being set up for an enemies-to-lovers type romance, and yet have no chemistry and their entire motivation basically boils down to “beat the other” (with a side helping of “maybe there should be something else to motivate them but let’s not really dig into that”)
- The seductress who literally thinks of nothing else
- An Illusionist and sees-through-illusions-ist who I could not tell apart (one rich boy and one wannabe rich boy)
- A botanist who talks about not wanting to use her power but then immediately does
The other issue was that there were no stakes. Oh, it mentions “only five of you six will make it”, but because I didn’t care about the characters, that has no weight to it. It also doesn’t explicitly say at the start whether one of them will die or just be sent home – and the characters assume it’s the latter, so it lacks any real consequence.
Instead, it just plods along trying to establish the characters and get them into a place without endearing them or setting up much inter-character tension between the two enemies.