A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee is a young adult new release that’s been pitched by the author as ‘dark academia but make it lesbian’. We follow Felicity Morrow, who after the death of her ex-girlfriend, has finally returned to Dalloway School. 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. As Ellis Haley, a prodigal and methodic writer, turns up at Godwin House, Felicity is roped into researched the Dalloway Five. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.
I want to start by speaking about the characters. Felicity and Ellis were such great characters. They felt so real to me, they had personalities, flaws, and motivations that weren’t just driven by the plot’s demands. There were parts of them that were twisted and complicated and I just wanted to sit down and untangle it all.
The entire plot is brilliant and wicked. It’s a great concept that was executed really well. There were a few points that took me by surprise and I loved how they were executed.
I really enjoyed Victoria Lee’s writing style. It’s a combination of sophisticated and also very haunting. The writing style created a brilliantly twisted atmosphere and characters. You can tell how intelligent Ellis and Felicity are by their choice of words – not just dialogues. The words are chosen deliberately to create tension. Even in scenes where there wasn’t much happening, the vibe itself had my heart racing.
The most well-done part of this book is the atmosphere it creates. The vibes that the characters, the writing style and the plot give are so dark. Which contributes to making this a true ‘dark academia’.
My only complaint was the slow start. This took me a little bit to get into but my patience paid off. Despite the slow beginning, when it kicked off, it kicked off.
Going into this, I was under the impression that this was more fantasy than suspense (thanks Goodreads). This did disappoint me a little, but that’s a me problem and not a book or writing problem. I’d recommend going into this not expecting a fantasy element but more dark academia and suspense.
In closing, this is an incredible book that you must pick up. If you’re looking for something that’s dark academia, sapphic and has gothic vibes this is it for you.