A LESSON IN VENGEANCE by Victoria Lee
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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.
Dalloway is much the same as Felicity left it nearly a year ago. The floors of the old dorm still creak, and there’s still an aura of mystery from the ancient bones on which the boarding school was built, the witch who was buried alive and the other four witches who perished in equally gruesome but less explicable ways. But this year there’s a new ghost haunting the halls: Felicity’s girlfriend Alex.
In the year that Felicity was away, the doctors at the psychiatric hospital tried to convince her that Alex’s accidental death wasn’t her fault and that magic isn’t real. There is no way that the rituals she and Alex performed could have released the ghost of a witch. She promised the doctors and her mother that if they let her go back to school this year, she wouldn’t dabble in magic and she would choose a new topic for her senior thesis, one that wouldn’t require more research in to the history of the Dalloway witches. But one of her new dorm-mates is Ellis Haley, the eccentric, Pulitzer-winning teen novelist, and Ellis believes that Felicity’s doctors are wrong. The only way for Felicity to come to terms with the past is to face it–to return to the rituals and the study of the witches and to act out their murders–proving once and for all that humans and not evil spirits were the culprits. As Felicity gets sucked back into the dark world she swore she’d left behind, she is forced to face the darkness in the girls around her–and in herself.
This novel walks the line between psychological thriller and horror. (For me, most of the suspense came from the atmosphere and the questionable sanity of the narrator, so it felt more like Kingian horror than a thriller.) Character drives the novel, and though the key reveals weren’t particularly surprising, the suspense and tension are so high throughout that I had trouble putting it down. I’d recommend it to fans of the genre(s), especially readers who enjoyed books like WHEN ALL THE GIRLS ARE SLEEPING by Emily Arsenault.