Reviews tagging Panic attacks/disorders

A Lesson in Vengeance, by Victoria Lee

11 reviews

bookliz_fr's review against another edition

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dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I had a great time reading this book. However, there is something that bothers me a little, but I don't what. That's why this book is a low four stars for me.

We are following two students, Felicity and Ellis, at Dalloway School. A school that has witchcraft woven in its history with the famous Dalloway Five, and Felicity and Ellis decided to research about them and unravel the mystery surrounding those five girls. 

Like most story sets in a boarding school, we have this spooky and dark atmosphere. The ambiance is also created by the explanations of the history of the school, various descriptions of the school and its surrounding. Moreover, the different characters help a lot with this atmosphere as you don't trust them a hundred percent. It's a lot of details and how they are interlinked that create this beautiful dark academia ambiance. I didn't want to stop reading the book and stay in this mood.

Another important thing is that the story is character-driven. We are following one point of view, Felicity's one, which makes the story a lot more interesting to read. She has a psychotic depression double up with anxiety and triples up with grief, making her a complex character. Sometimes you don't know if she imagines things or if it's the reality; the difference is hard to make. Also, she makes some characters real even if they aren't here. 
Ellis, on her side, is a character that I didn't trust from the beginning. She has something that helps her have many followers who don't question anything, but there is something off with her like she has an idea and will do anything to achieve it, even if it means doing a bad thing. 

However, as it's a character-driven story, the plot isn't at the forefront, so sometimes I was a little lost as I sometimes forgot it. That makes the ending a little complex to understand for me. In the beginning, I didn't catch it, but then I understood, and I liked it a lot. So for me, the ending was surprising but, at the same time, a good conclusion for those characters.

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laurenleigh's review

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dark emotional mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

A haunted girl’s boarding school in upstate New York that was founded by daughters of Salem witches? Sapphic plot lines and murder mysteries? SO into it. This was definitely a fun quick palette cleanser that was much needed after a lot of intense reads. Not that this also isn’t intense in its own dark way, but in a faster-paced YA manner. If you liked A Secret History, Plain Bad Heroines, and If We Were Villains, you gotta check this out. It really had elements of all three novels, blended together nicely. It really got me in the mood for Fall, even though that season doesn’t really exist here for another two months, if at all. My English major brain ate it up when they talked about their thesis topics and research. I totally want to live at Godwin House, just maybe with different girls that aren’t so twisted lol. I also loved the casual inclusion of a non-binary character. Representation is so majorly important, but it’s especially important when done in this way, highlighting how normal it is to identify outside of the binary. I believe the author identifies as queer and trans. I’m happy to see that the dark academia trend is still going strong. I’m so here for it!

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wet_towlette's review

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dark emotional mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75


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applejacksbooks's review

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challenging dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

I loved this from start to finish. Felicity's story kept me engaged the whole time with the dark academia vibes and the slight thriller themes throughout the story. The ending was perfect in my opinion.

Pros: Dark academia, murdered "witches" in history, an all feminine cast, queer as heck. Ellis.

Cons: I wish the mystery towards the end had been written a little sooner in the story to really add to the thriller element.

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plumpaperbacks's review

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dark mysterious tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I didn’t think I’d read anything else from Victoria Lee after DNFing The Fever King a couple of years ago, but this book’s synopsis intrigued me enough that I changed my mind. Though I haven’t read much dark academia, I definitely want to read more after this.

From the first page, I found Felicity and her story enthralling, and desperately wanted to know what happened to Alex and the Dalloway Five. Dalloway was such an interesting setting, with intense eerie vibes that drew me in each time I picked up the book. I rarely knew who to trust or what was real, and I love books that mess with my head that way. Kudos to Lee for that.

I will say, one of the biggest twists was fairly easy for me to guess, and that’s the main reason I didn’t give this book a higher rating. However, everything that came after that reveal threw me for a loop, which definitely makes up for that shred of predictability. I liked the epilogue because, even if it wasn’t a typical happy ending, it was unexpected.

Overall, A Lesson in Vengeance was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I look forward to seeing what Lee does in the future.

Representation
  • lesbian protagonist and love interest
  • sapphic romance (f/f)
  • side characters of color (includes Black and Indian rep)
  • nonbinary side character (uses they/them pronouns)

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bookcrushin's review

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dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

This book will mess with your head a bit especially with the unreliable narrator. I loved it and I expect to see it on all your fall dark gothic lists!

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sageleafpark's review

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challenging dark mysterious reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5


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olivia_manes's review

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dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5


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strawbeb's review

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dark emotional mysterious reflective tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I just finished it a few minutes ago and that was….. what a journey. It is definitely for those craving a horror, dark academia, lesbian, boarding school tale. The writing was beautiful to read and the characters were interesting to know. I especially love love loved all the parallels, especially at the end of the book. A great read. 

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allisonwonderlandreads's review

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dark sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

In this ya thriller, Felicity arrives at Dalloway, a private girls' boarding school with a dark history, for a second chance at her senior year. She returns from her mental sabbatical to her same room, but all her friends have graduated and her girlfriend is dead. As she faces the rumor mill and her own fears from the night Alex died, she falls into orbit around a prodigy writer, Ellis.

This thriller just wasn't a good fit for me. First, the relationships are sapped of any altruism. Felicity has an absent, rich mother, a cruel, dead girlfriend, and faces manipulation, gaslighting, and fear of being outed as a lesbian while grappling with her psychotic depression. Everything is toxic.

In terms of characters, Ellis especially pissed me off from almost the start. She uses her semi-celebrity status and charisma to pressure everyone around her into getting her way, even when the others push back or bubble over with doubts. While much of my energy was devoted to the anti-Ellis train, I didn't develop equally strong positive connections with the other characters, even the protagonist. Felicity's motivations were always murky to me, and while I think this was a tactic to keep her secrets safely hidden until the right moment, it left me detached from her in the (lengthy) interim.

It's also one of those thrillers where I spent the whole time asking: but WHY would you do that? Also, please don't do that. It lacked the spookiness of supernatural thrillers and the visceral tension caused by more human threats, though the story plays with elements of both. It's a very slow build. By the time things kicked off right at the end, I was hanging on out of a need to know the outcome for a fully informed review, not any sense of excitement.

So what might someone else like about this book? Mental health and queer representation are central to the story, although both feature difficult journeys and toxic situations. If you like a literary intelligentsia or witchy vibe, I think you will enjoy the atmosphere and references here.

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