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Book review: A Lesson in Vengeance

Book review of A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

This is my book review of A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee. It’s a Dark Academia vibe standalone book about Felicity and her schoolmates at Godwin House. Magic, witches, mysteries and romance in a thrilling mix.

A Lesson in Vengeance

“Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School, a centuries old, ivy-covered campus that was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. […] Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s past. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the girls do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. […]

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is 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 (rumored to be witches) for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway – and in herself.”

The above text is kindly borrowed from the back of the book, slightly edited.

Lessons and romance

We follow Felicity as the once popular girl returning to her school after being away true Gossip Girl style. A death preceeds our story’s beginning and while Felicity tries to find herself anew, new school mates are starting their school year at Dalloway.

A Lesson in Vengeance doesn’t really have that many school lessons in it, so the vibe is definitely more around the lessons. Felicity and her new batch of housemates hang out in the old house at Dalloway most of the time. It really serves all the Dark Academia vibes in a book, so we like that. (The vibes were 80% of why I got this book).

Spoiler alert: There is a slowburn, sort of enemies to lovers ish romance with Felicity and Ellis. I didn’t really care for it in the beginning, but as the story progresses it was thrilling to follow.

Witchery and A Lesson in Vengeance

Felicity Morrow is obsessed with the witches at Dalloway and their history. She really wants to write a school paper on them and Ellis, her new housemate, wants to write a book. The book is supposed to be based on the witch rituals and deaths, but here the story leads into Dark territory. All the witch stuff serves as a kind of backdrop story, behind all the action right in front of us. The stories are rich in detail and depth and pretty well thought out, without a need to dive further in. Nothing particularly magical is going on with our main characters, as it’s mainly focused on ritual magic and such.

It does serve to bring that supernatural feeling and adds to the whole “can we trust Felicity or not” as we progress throughout the book. Part of the excitement in this book is definitely that I decided to let myself go with it and shift between trusting and not trusting Felicity as our narrator. I tend to love books where the point of view is questionable in terms of “what really happened” in the story.

Bring the Dark Academia vibes

All in all, it’s a perfect Dark Academia vibe read – and quite obviously written and marketed to hit that trend. In my opinion, having read this before reading The Secret History of Donna Tartt, this one had a better ending by far. All the bookish, queer, tweed, murder mystery most foul themes and energy in this one was spot on. You just have to find out what these gals would do next. I was pleasantly surprised by a few plot-turns (not exactly twists) and got just what I hoped for with this book!

Never mind it not being entirely original – it was like reading a really good crime novel in that regard. Nothing exceptionally new, but fresh enough and wellwritten with decent characters that I actually didn’t particularly sympathize with.

Definitely a great addition to the Dark Academia Reading Challenge! 


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