A Lesson in Vengeance | Victoria Lee


A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

Out Now from Delacorte Press; 384 pages

Content Warnings: Murder, discussions of suicide, body horror, gore, blood, violence, descriptive animal death, gun violence, alcoholism, underage drinking, underage smoking, underage drug use, mentions of child neglect and neglectful parents, references to past institutionalization, prescription medication usage, mental illness, panic/anxiety attacks, mentions of racism, gaslighting, manipulation, toxic/abusive relationships, sexual content, strong language

About the Author: “Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent her childhood writing ghost stories and fantasizing about attending boarding school. She has a Ph.D. in psychology, which she uses to overanalyze fictional characters and also herself. Lee is the author of A Lesson in Vengeance as well as The Fever King and its sequel, The Electric Heir. She lives in New York City with her partner, cat, and malevolent dog.” (Bio taken from author’s website)

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“You can still feel history in these halls. At any moment you might turn the corner and find yourself face to face with a ghost from the past.”

After a year-long leave of absence following the traumatic death of her girlfriend, Felicity Morrow is back at the exclusive Dalloway School to finish her senior year. All Felicity wants to do now is leave her past—filled with fixations on witchcraft and the infamous Dalloway Five murders—behind her. When teenage writing prodigy Ellis Haley joins Dalloway, Felicity finds herself drawn in. Ellis enlists Felicity’s help in conducting research for her next novel, which is focused on the mysterious deaths of the Dalloway Five. But as they embark on their journey to discover the truth about the Dalloway Five, Felicity must come to terms with the fact that a past as dark as hers won’t stay buried forever.

What I enjoyed most about A Lesson in Vengeance was how atmospheric it was. Victoria Lee does a great job of immersing readers in the darkness of both Felicity and the Dalloway School. The ghosts of their pasts haunt every page. The lesbian representation was another aspect I really enjoyed about this book. The slow-burn romance and tension between Felicity and Ellis had me constantly asking myself, “Will they? Won’t they?” However, while there were some aspects of this book that I liked, it mainly fell flat for me. The story was difficult for me to get into, and at times, I lost interest in reading it. The plot was too slow-paced, and it seemed to drag on before anything significant happened to push the story towards the climax. I had trouble connecting with Felicity because she underwent very little character development over the course of the novel. What little development she did go through felt abrupt and unsatisfying. The ending seemed out of place compared to what had been established throughout the book, and I was ultimately disappointed with it. But overall, A Lesson in Vengeance is a haunting sapphic tale that will leave you feeling unsettled.

PRR Writer, Sadie Cruz