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“Once upon a time I found it so easy to forget the stories about Godwin House and the five Dalloway witches who lived here three hundred years ago, their blood in our dirt, their bones banging from our trees.”
I feel like all of Goodreads was screaming “sapphic dark academia with murder and witches” at me to read this, which I very happily obliged, but even with keywords as magnificent as those I still found so many other things to fall in love with about this story.
This is such a beautifully crafted and hauntingly atmospheric book staring a lesbian main character who is coming back to finally finish her senior year at a very spooky boarding school. She is also living with an immense amount of grief, anxiousness, and psychotic depression.
Dalloway School is a very isolated school, and the house that Felicity is going to be sharing with four other girls is even more isolated from the rest of the campus. And even though there are beliefs of witchcraft all over the school, the Godwin House is where five young suspected witches lived before they were murdered 300 years ago.
The writing in this is so wildly fresh, and pleasing, and dare I even say the most aesthetic. The word choices and how each sentence is structured feels so very deliberate and it truly made the whole reading experience even better and even more haunting. Truly some of the best words and passages I’ve read in such a long while and it was truly a treat every single time I picked up this book, while I also seamlessly fell back into the story.
There is also a major theme and plot of literature and how these five girls are working on different theses. Felicity’s thesis is about misogyny and the portrayal of women in horror literature. Where a new girl named Ellis is working on an entire book, trying to research these murders to help be inspired for her next award winning novel. And because their projects kind of go together (and because they are living in a really creepy house that five women lived before they were murdered) they decide to work together, and Ellis very much wants to prove to Felicity that magic is not real once and for all.
I really loved the constant bringing up of mental health in the past and how women who were not understood (even without mental health struggles) were so easily deemed witches and made them pay for it with their lives. I also just loved how we get to see an unreliable narrator talk about lots of unreliable narrators! Again, the writing in this book is just so well structured and it is so impressive all the building layers.
But this book also centers around some very heavy and important things, like the importance of taking your prescribed medications, and how scary isolation can be and how it can also make you much more susceptible to be abused without necessarily realizing it easily. And also, how much darker things can turn when those two things are happening to you simultaneously!
I just had a really good time reading this, I think it’s not only beautiful but it’s so very important, and the ending will truly leave you screaming.
“…old and rotten tales about missing girls and desolate mountain cliffs, how Felicity Marrow claimed it was an accident, but no one else was there to say for sure.”
Trigger and Content Warnings: murder, death, gore, violence, grief, loss of a loved one, a lot of blood depiction, rituals, a lot of alcohol consumption (under aged), a lot of smoking, substance abuse, talk of racism, anxiety, anxiety attack, vomiting, self harm (to get blood), talk of suicidal thoughts, actual suicidal thoughts, talk of being institutionalized in past, mention of illness with an elderly family member, lots of mentions of not taking prescribed antidepressants, gaslighting, manipulation, abuse, a situation with sever parental neglect and abandonment, and animal deaths that are pretty dark. in general, this book is very graphic, and have very visceral depictions of struggling with mental health, please use caution!
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3 thoughts on “A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee”
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a book recommended because of the quality of the writing rather than, say, the plot or the characters. This sounds like a great read – I’ll be keeping my eyes open for this one, thanks!
Amazing Review, love! ❤️ I think the whole community is screaming at me to read this book 😅, it sounds amazing, it’s already on my TBR, so now I just have to find the time to pick it up 😍✨
loved reading this with you so muuch 🥰