Title: Madam

Author: Phoebe Wynne

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Quercus

The Blurb

For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be.

But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.

The Review

Madam by Phoebe Wynne was one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I love campus novels especially when there are unsettling undertones and mysterious elements involved and Madam has both of these things in spades.

It is the story of Rose, a young Classics teacher who has seemingly hit the occupational jackpot by being given the opportunity to work at an elite academy for young girls. However, things are not all that they seem. Pertinent information is kept from Rose as she is initially put on a probationary period. Rose is constantly on the backfoot from the teachers and from the students who know the ways and traditions of Caldonbrae. As Rose discovers the truth she has to come to a decision about the kind of teacher she wishes to be.

Phoebe Wynne has created a deeply unsettling novel. As my suspicions grew and as Iearned more about the academy alongside Rose I felt more and more uncomfortable. When a writer manages to get a visceral response from a reader you know that they have done a great job.

Madam by Phoebe Wynne will be released 13th May 2021.

For more information regarding Phoebe Wynne (@phoebewynne) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Quercus (@QuercusBoks) please visit www.quercusbooks.co.uk.

Genre: YA Fiction/LGBTQIA+

The Gist: A group of friends head off to university. Whilst they begin to lose each other, they also begin to find themselves.  

Short Review: Loveless is the story of friendship that falls apart when they all discover themselves at university. Love, new social groups and dealing with sexuality are all things that impact this story.

Long Review: Georgia and her friends Pip and Jason are off to Durham University. Whilst her friends are off meeting people and having new adventures Georgia realises that she doesn’t feel the same as they do when it comes to new relationships. 

Whilst everyone is pairing off Georgia struggles to find anyone. She starts to question her sexuality. She doesn’t think that she is a lesbian like her best friend Pip; she tries to go out with other best friend Jason but that relationship repulses her. Georgia doesn’t know why she is feeling this way and it is making her miserable. 

I absolutely loved Loveless. For me, Alice Oseman really is the leading voice in talking to teens about sexuality. I learned so much from this book and I know that when I was a teenager my friends and I would have appreciated a book like this that answers questions that we didn’t even know we had.

Loveless is a brilliant book, one that has friendship at the heart and one that is ironically full of love. It was fantastic.

Loveless by Alice Oseman is available now.

For more information regarding Alice Oseman (@AliceOseman) please visit www.aliceoseman.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins UK (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Letting Go

Author: Deborah Markus

Pages: 360 Pages

Publisher: Sky Pony

The Blurb

Everyone Emily has ever loved has been brutally murdered. The killer has never been caught, but Emily knows who’s responsible.

She is.

It’s the only possible explanation. Emily is the one thing all the victims have in common, which can only mean that someone—or something—is killing them to make her suffer.

Determined never to subject another person to the same horrible fate as her parents, friends, and pets, Emily sequesters herself at a private boarding school, keeping her classmates at a distance with well-timed insults and an unapproachable air. Day after day, she loses herself in the writing of Emily Dickinson—the poet makes a perfect friend, since she’s already dead.

Emily’s life is lonely, but it’s finally peaceful. That is, until two things happen. A corpse appears on the steps of the school. And a new girl insists on getting close to Emily—unknowingly setting herself up to become the killer’s next victim.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The Letting Go is a campus novel. Our protagonist, Emily, has an obsession with Emily Dickinson – who history has recorded as having an obsession with death – much like our protagonist, Emily. Confused?

I really thought I would enjoy The Letting Go. Yes, I bought it on the strength of the book cover – an act that has burned me many times before. However, the story is told in a really disorienting choppy way that made me feel like I couldn’t keep up with what was going on. When the main dramatic moments happened I was so lost and confused that I honestly thought I hav accidentally read ahead.

For a story which seemed to have a lot of potential…based on the cover…it had a really disappointing execution.

The Letting Go by Deborah Markus is available now.

For more information regarding Sky Pony Press (@skyponypress) please visit www.skyhrse.com.

Title: Tradition

Author: Brendan Kiely

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

‘This very good school is nothing but a fancy promise, a broken one. A big lie.’

The powerful, glamorous and privileged students of Fullbrook Academy gather for a secret party in the woods.

A party that ends in disaster.

The Fullbook traditions are sacred. But they can hide dark and dangerous secrets.

Jules is in her senior year with one goal: to get out and start her life at college.

Jamie is a sports star on a scholarship; Fullbrook is his chance to escape his past.

Can they both stand together against Fulbrook’s most toxic traditions?

The Review

I really like campus novels. I like having a sneaky peak into a world that I may be unaware of. I like it when those novels tackle difficult issues and Tradition definitely tackles a difficult issue. Kiely looks at the privilege that is shown to sports stars within private schools and how that privilege can manifest itself in insidious sexual attacks that are brushed under the carpet.

With a dual narrative, we see what life at Fullbook is like from Jules perspective – she was once part of the privileged group but now abhors it. We also see it from Jamie’s perspective who has landed smack bang into that world and doesn’t fit in.

The toxicity of this environment drips from every page and makes you genuinely uncomfortable. It is a book that should be read and shared as much as possible.

Tradition by Brendan Kiely is available now.

For more information regarding Brendan Kiely (@KielyBrendan) please visit www.bendankiely.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

Title: Loner

Author: Teddy Wayne

Pages: 203 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.

Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.

Loner turns the traditional campus novel on its head as it explores ambition, class, and gender politics. It is a stunning and timely literary achievement from one of the rising stars of American fiction.

The Review

Loner is genuinely one of the creepiest campus novels I have ever read. It focuses on freshman David Federman who is a bit of a social outcast but now that he has reached Harvard he has a chance to reinvent himself. However, the reinvention isn’t exactly the best version of himself that he could be. And it is all because of one girl – Veronica Morgan: David’s new obsession.

Teddy Wayne does a great job of building up the creepiness. At first you feel sorry for avid but the more we see of him, and the more questionable his actions become, the more the reader start to feel uncomfortable.

Loner looks at themes such as mental health, voyeurism, and sexual conduct. It is only a small novel but it really does deal with a lot of important issues.

Loner by Teddy Wayne is available now.

For more information regarding Teddy Wayne (@TeddyWayne1999) please visit www.teddywayne.com.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@simonandschusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.