10 hours 15 minutes | Listening Library | 08/31/2021
The first half of this book felt like it was all aesthetic and no bite but wow did the last half of this book flip the script! This twisted story of two schoolgirls and a centuries-old murder becomes an absolute page-turner as the pair dive into a centuries-old tragedy.
After the mysterious death of her best friend, Felicity Morrow has to live with the rumors that follow her at Dalloway’s School For Girls. She is obsessed with the school’s dark history and along for the journey is Dalloway’s newest student, world-renowned teen literary author Ellis Haley.
Ellis is a sophisticated and wise Southern belle with more than a few eccentricities. She’s old-fashion and has a penchant for bespoke suits, typewriters, and ink. She wants to write her next great novel and Felicity might be the only one who can help her. Audiobook narrator Lindsey Dorcus’ no-nonsense slightly aged Southern accent and deep voice really added to Ellis’ character. Her casual matter-of-fact tone was a perfect fit for Ellis’ sometimes strange and eerie nature.
This book is not subtle at all when it comes to the Dark Academia aesthetic. At times it was just a little too on the nose and took me out of the story. Ellis and Felicity live in an old historical house with four other girls and everyone dresses to the nines in outfits straight out of a Dark Academia Pinterest Board. They also all do a lot of things by hand and judge Felicity for using a cellphone. I actually kind of question them eschewing cell phones. I mean these girls were maybe born in maybe 2004? Cell phones should feel like a utility to them, right?
My only other critique about this book is that it really could have taken place in college. I’m not a fan of the whole “Certain YA books Should Be NA” argument but I would make a case for this one. It’s not even about the content or characters’ ages…just the whole perspective felt like it could have been an adult book. The characters in the book are so disconnected from their family, other classmates, and teachers. They are surrounded and defined by their individual studies. The book is mostly about them living in their isolated house, exploring bonding rituals, and attending parties—not to mention they are always talking about the thesis they have to write? Is this a thing in fancy prep schools?
A Lesson in Vengeance is a darkly twisty story that is an easy recommendation for those into the Dark Academia aesthetic, especially one that features lesbian main characters.