Reviews tagging Self harm

A Lesson in Vengeance, by Victoria Lee

2 reviews

sarahmreads's review against another edition

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dark mysterious sad 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

3.5

Booktok has raved about this book as a high stakes lesbian dark academia all year long, and it's been pretty high up on my TBR for October. However, I hate to say that this story fell flat for me.

Felicity Morrow is back at the Dalloway School after coping with the death of her girlfriend Alex one year ago. She wants to put the past, both Alex and the mysteries of the Dalloway Five behind her. Enter Ellis Haley, a young published author with a thirst to write her next novel about the Dalloway Five, and she needs Felicity's help.

I'm gonna start with the positives. I like how this story doesn't make you trust yourself. There is always this seed of doubt, from the story being in Felicity's perspective to Ellis' own goals for her writing project. You don't know who to trust, or even if the "magic" associated with the Dalloway Five even exists. You're left completely in the dark at the end, although it kind of insinuates one thing over the other. It adds to the thriller factor of this story.

I also moderately liked the worldbuilding of the story. I couldn't always keep exactly straight who had died in what way, but I liked the dark and pompous air around Dalloway and the school.

Now let's talk characters. I was extremely torn about Felicity. She is an extremely unreliable narrator who already has a habit of lying to herself to forget things, like Alex's death. She's easily persuaded one way or another, like when it comes to the magic spell books inside the library. She even keeps telling herself she'll stop drinking like her mother but fails at that. She's surrounded by tragedy and failure, so how can we even trust her as readers? I didn't like her in that regard. I'm surprised she was not put off by Ellis earlier in the story but I digress.

ELLIS HALEY. I am SO TORN on her. She is the dark academia I wish to embody, straight down to the outfit and the writer aspects. I thought she was fine until halfway through and immediately realized how dark of a path this story was going down. I felt like more could have been done with her character besides what was planned out for her. I just wanted a happy sapphic love story and that was NOT what was given to me.

I will say I liked the LGBTQ+ rep in the story. Why Felicity felt the need to come out even though her and Alex were openly a couple (I thought?) but hey, still proud of her. Also I wish there was a bit more nonbinary rep for a story that was praised for having no male-identifying individuals. Only one character used they/them pronouns and they were a minor character.

The ending also felt kind of deserved but also... not really? I'm still super torn on the ending and how it turned out. Guess that solidifies the fact that this is a stand alone.

A Lesson in Vengeance is a good scary dark academia book for October. Will I be reading it again? Probably not. 

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katherine_kelley's review against another edition

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

3.5

3 1/2 stars. It was so good for most of it. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the writing. I’m so sad to say that they ending totally fell apart. The last like 5 chapters were where it lost me. The ending felt very rushed and the answer to the mystery was so obvious, I thought it had to be a red herring. It’s possible that I’m overthinking it. The end also does a pretty big heel turn on some of the characters. I loved the relationship between the two main characters, but I wouldn’t go in expecting a Romance. I was really disappointed by the ending, which sucks because most of it was fantastic.

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