I don’t know about you, but I’m always in the mood for a really good dark academia book. I didn’t know when I picked up The Atlas Six that this would be the book I was looking for. Thanks to Tor Books for the gifted read.
The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…
– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.
When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.
Honestly, this book surprised me in so many different ways. I was expecting something very big because it’s a Booktok recommendation after all and it definitely delivered something big. It’s dark academia at its core as these six initiates to the Alexandrian Society work their way to officially being accepted. Filled with sex, betrayal, revenge, murder, and mystery, there’s a lot to enjoy about this book and a lot for you to discover as you read.
The story follows six people who are considered the best of the best medeian (magical people) in their generation. They’ve been invited to join the Alexandrian Society; a secret society of the highest ranking medeians in the world. Six people are invited to join, but only five people are able to become full-fledged members.
The rest of the story follows these six initiates as they take advantage of the beautiful archives; the library filled with all the information you’d ever need on magical people, creatures, and things. Some folks take right away to the archives researching the many questions they have about their power and themselves. As you learn more and more power, you gain more and more access to the library. The other part of the story is trying to figure out who will join the society and who will be eliminated.
This book is all about the characters. It’s a highly character-driven story going as far as learning their quirks, their hopes, and their fears. You understand their philosophies on life, what they stand for, what they believe in, etc. It’s really interesting to read because each of these characters are so different in many ways. The first is the most obvious way; their power. Each possesses a gift that the other doesn’t have.
Second, not only are they different in magical abilities, but they’re highly different in personalities clashing with each other every so often. Some are ready to make friends while others would rather not. The dynamics between these characters were so intriguing and one of the reasons I kept reading. The banter between them was probably the most witty part of the entire story. The writing is beautifully done, so you get these prolific moments of truth and understanding of the world they live in and then this expletive filled rant from someone who just discovered something.
And the world building here is so good. Creating a magical world that exists within the real world has already been done, I know, but what I loved is how some of these families made their money off their gifts, how some lived in the underbelly of the gangster network, and others just finished Magic University. The fact that these individuals came from such different backgrounds helped to shape this world. On top of that, there’s mythical creatures, the usage of magic with science, and philosophy on magic and how it works in this yin/yang way. It’s truly such a massive world that Olivie Blake’s built here and as you continue reading, more and more is revealed.
The book is a slow burn as well, so I know that many folks won’t appreciate it because of its slowness. As someone who actually loves a slow burn (as long as it’s evenly paced), this was a bit slow for me. There were moments in the middle of the story that really made me wonder if I should DNF the book or if I cared enough to keep going. But then there would be a plot point that moved or some small reveal that made me do a double take and those little bits and pieces kept me going even through the more boring parts.
And without giving too much away, this book really surprised me. The ending wasn’t the way I imagined itand the reveal really made you intrigued to see what happens next. It didn’t end the way I thought it would end, but there were clues throughout the story that I’m so glad I didn’t miss because wow, it just really blew me away.
Overall, this was such a creative story. The world building is incredible. The characters are intriguing. And the story sets you up perfectly for book two. I can’t wait until it’s out because I’m definitely getting my hands on it.