My forays into dark academia have either been immense successes (A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik singlehandedly dragged me out of a reading slump) or triumphs over my will to finish (The Secret History by Donna Tart is on my shelf waiting for me to get past that half-way mark). So when I kept hearing about The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake*, I needed to see where it would land on the scale .
When the world’s best magicians are offered an extraordinary opportunity, saying yes is easy. Each could join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Their members enjoy a lifetime of power and prestige. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places.
Contenders Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona are inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds. Parisa Kamali is a telepath, who sees the mind’s deepest secrets. Reina Mori is a naturalist who can perceive and understand the flow of life itself. And Callum Nova is an empath, who can manipulate the desires of others. Finally there’s Tristan Caine, whose powers mystify even himself.
Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.
I can see why this book has people by the throat. If vibes could be measured per page, it would be off the charts. The characters are living in a massive country house, messing with magic, space and time, and have the Library of Alexandria at their fingertips. At least, what the Library will allow them to see. The plots role in The Atlas Six is to be the skeleton for the body of the whole story, you really only see the teeth. If that sounds strange, it’s because I’ve been deep in this book for days and every thought in my head is tinged with the writing style.
Speaking of, the writing matches the vibes. It’s like wading through treacle. Rich, but sticky. Blake is dealing with a lot of concepts in her magic system that I found a struggle to follow, but it didn’t always feel like I had to follow either. Similar to when The Secret History was talking about Greek, some readers could possibly read this in a way that meant that they understand and followed the science and theory, but for a casual reader it could be a bit much. It felt best to let it wash over you.
Going in, I had expected all the characters to be unlikeable but I actually could pick out maybe half of the core group that I was rooting for to survive. Libby really wormed her way into my heart. You bounce around the points of view of all of them but unlike other books with multiple POVs, I had no preference which meant their were none that I had to slog through to get to a favourite.
This book is for those dedicated to dark academia, those that like to swim in a sentence and those that use candles as a main form of lighting.
“Men in particular are draining, they bleed us dry. They demand we carry their burdens, fix their ills. A man is constantly in search of a good woman, but what do they offer us in return?”
*I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. It has not changed my opinion.