This inventive school, alive with engaging students and rampant talk of sex and blood magic, will delight readers looking for a boldy uncensored take on fantasy mainstay while likely singeing the ears of readers who aren’t. To secure an advantage against the other houses in the Game, the Snakes witches perform a summoning ritual, calling forth what they hope will be a gorgeous “guardian” free of the character flaws of the likes of Blaze. It’s a laugh-out-loud moment, then, several chapters later, when an impossibly alluring newcomer turns up in one of Alecto’s classes. His name: Rogue Smolder. He’s a demon—and he’s Alecto’s new study partner.
Sexy, funny, fast-paced, and committed to jolting genre expectations, this first book in Wilde’s projected trilogy is decidedly not for everyone, but readers on its wavelength will savor it and impatiently wait for more. For all the adult and even satirical elements, the story itself—especially a surprising slow burn romance—is heartfelt and exciting, and Wilde proves deft at plotting out twists, reversals, betrayals, and revelations that honor the beloved magic and prep school stories that House of Pain both celebrates and interrogates. There’s detentions, memory orbs, and forces beyond everyone’s control—including lust.
Takeaway:This dishy, sex-positive magic school fantasy/romance will dazzle the readers on its wavelength.
Great for fans of: Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti’s Zodiac Academy series, Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A