Nothing sells me on a book quite like finding out it’s set at a boarding school. And when there is murder at that boarding school? Oh I’m sold up the river. So I dove into Killing November by Adriana Mather, out now, and it definitely wasn’t the typical boarding school book, but I was intrigued.
November wakes up at Academy Absconditi after her father sends her off to school, and it becomes clear quite quickly that she is in over her head. A school that’s so off the grid she doesn’t have any idea what continent it is on? No electricity? An eye-for-an-eye punishment? Speechless guards? Poisons classes? Yikes.
It becomes clear pretty quickly that November is missing the crucial information about what the Academy does: train the Families. The Families, as you’ll discover, are something between royalty and the mob, with ties to leaders, assassinations, history mysteries, and more. But what November doesn’t realize is her interconnected her own story is with the Families and how far people will go to stand up for their Family.
November’s roommate Layla is a brilliant enigma, her twin brother Ash is too charming. Someone punches November in the face on her first day, and within a week, there’s a dead body outside her door. This boarding school is unlike anything else, and as November begins to unlock its secrets and understand the alliances that ripple through it, it becomes clear that someone is out for blood. Hers.
I was a little skeptical of this book as I dove in, mostly because it seemed a bit “mob-ish” but I ended up getting into it. Some characters are way more interesting than others, and I didn’t really “feel” November’s naivete that kept being mentioned, but I was intrigued. I wish I had more of a conversation with November and her Dad before she showed up at the Academy, because I didn’t feel like she cared about him at all even as it became clear his life was probably in danger. And who the heck was Emily? All the flashbacks woven in were a distraction from the main story, included only to “show” how November was primed for the Family stuff before arriving at the Academy. However, I still enjoyed the story overall. The Family dynamic was interesting, and I loved the little history lessons woven through. Cool strategy talk, for example. I’m looking forward to the next book, even though it seems like it will go in a very different direction and raises questions about why exactly November had to go to the Academy in the first place.
Reading this and rereading the Private series by Kate Brian has got me really excited about finishing my boarding school murder mystery WIP this fall!