Review of A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

Felicity Morrow is back at the Dalloway School to finish her senior year after the tragic death of her girlfriend. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students―girls some say were witches.

Felicity was once drawn to the dark legacy of witchcraft. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; but it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget it.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway―and in herself.

A lesson in vengeance was initially such a captivating read for me, whilst it took a couple of chapters to get into the flow, I had easily consumed half the book in one evening. I enjoyed the old school creepiness of Dalloway, that it had such a rich and vibrant history. Felicity’s inner monologue captured such a broad and complex range, from the usual school struggles, fitting in and rising above the whispers, to pure harrowing fear as branches tap on windows and spirits seemingly are prowling the forest outside.

Comparisons to “The Craft” are well founded, with Felicity’s penchant for tarot reading and late night rituals alongside of 5 girls who fit the established tropes well with Ellis taking front and centre as the narcissist. This is truly Felicity and Ellis’s story though and the side characters feel very much just like that, it’s a shame they were not given the opportunity to develop but in turn this did support the insular world that Felicity and Ellis were the queens of.

Honestly Ellis is just awful though. The worst kind of manipulative, gaslighting friend, I had such an intense dislike for her that I struggled to root for the relationship with Felicity. I’m not sure if as a reader we are meant to be caught up in the spell that she weave’s over the others and if we were i think that maybe why i was able to see as many of the twists coming as I did. If you are triggered by gaslighting I would carefully consider picking this up, it brought back all kinds of horrible memories for me.

Whilst i really enjoyed 90% of the story I struggled with the ending which felt somewhat messy and rushed. This was a shame given how perfectly the story had been paced up to that point, everything had such an elaborate gothic flourish and feel to it’s planning, a slow burn of trust and discovery, that the ending really jarred.

A lesson in vengeance was a great read which i reached to pick back up at every chance and was easily consumed in 48 hours, the worldbuilding was wonderful and Felicity a fantastic character, it just missed the 5* mark for me for the reasons above which are more down to my own interpretations than the writing. 


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