“From heartfelt conversation to sparring in one beat. I step back with my right leg, put up my fists, and tuck my chin.”
So that essentially sums up everything you need to know about this book. November Adley is thrown into a secret school for her safety. Except, since this particular school is less boarding and more assassin training, nothing about it screams safe.
We first meet November as she finds herself transported from her flight to the school. She has no memory of this because apparently when flying to a secret society school you never knew existed, they make sure you continue to not know it exists. Even if you’re attending. Welcome to November’s life.
This introduction means we spend the first part of the book completely off-balance with November. We know as much as she does, which isn’t much. And honestly, it makes for such an intriguing read. A million questions race are presented from the very first pages and the mystery only builds from there. November’s told by the head of the school to never, under any circumstances, reveal anything about herself to any of her peers. Her roommate has zero desire to be friends and thinks her questions are all some sort of game or ruse or attempt to play her. In fact, no one seems to be interested in being friends except her roommates brother. And he screams nothing but trouble.
“I’ve never met anyone with all the awkwardness of a debate club nerd and yet the physical appearance of an attractive pirate.”
Layla and Ash––the roommate and the brother––are opposites in every way they are the same. Where Layla is cold and cryptic, Ash is a smoldering pile of mischief. And in a place where everyone is either indifferent or curious in the way predators scent interesting new prey, this adorable exuberance immediately lets us know he’s absolutely up to no good. November knows it. We know it. And yet neither of us seems to stop from liking him anyway.
Outside of the twins, the rest of the students are mysterious, unwelcoming, and in a few cases, downright violent. Which makes the teachers sharper, deadlier versions of these teenage killers. It may appear that these classes are simply ways to give dimension to this school, but remember, nothing in this book is what it seems. Memories. Conversations. Clues. Classes. It’s all this intertwining mystery, making it delicious to read. Not so delicious for November, who unfortunately, is surrounded by people trained to kill in incredibly creative ways. Oh, and at least one of them is actively trying to kill her.
Takes killer first day to a whole new level.
“I’ve never seen anyone so delighted by poison before and I really don’t know what to make of it. She’s like a Tim Burton version of my kindergarten teacher.”
Let’s talk things I loved. I love how gender stereotypes are flipped on their head, because here, brute strength doesn’t count for much. It’s about strategy and skill. In fact, I think the girls in this school are far more deadly than a lot of the boys. Speaking of girls who incite violence with flair, Aarya is for sure one of my favorites. She’s snarky, always up for causing trouble, and thoroughly enjoys every moment of mayhem she can. Basically, exactly my favorite.
Aarya may be my favorite, but that’s not meant to take away from November. She’s not your typical YA heroine. Yes, she’s thrown into this insane world. But she isn’t waiting to be saved. Which is probably good, because no one is going to do that here. She is smart, trained in cryptic ways all throughout her life, and she isn’t going down without a fight. She’s optimistic and feisty and isn’t for one second going to be pushed around by anyone. Including secret society machinations. In other words, she’s a cheerful badass.
And because we’re thrown into this mystery with incredibly high stakes from the very beginning, Killing November screams binge read. Every time I had to put it down because life, I itched to get back into this world and figure out what was happening. It’s fast-paced and complex, where the layers of betrayal and intrigue are matched by the multi-faceted cast of characters.
In other words, there’s a lot to love in this book. Betrayal. Lies. Stabby girls and murder boys. Poison. Weapons. Revenge. Secret organizations and power plots and insane action fight scenes while swinging from vines in trees. No one is who they seem to be and yet, delightfully, they’re exactly who they are. If these things also make you flail with grabby hands, you’ll have a stabby good time reading this book!
And when you finish, here’s a juicy tidbit from the sequel, Hunting November.
Thank you Rockstar Book Tours and Knopf Books for sending me a copy!
It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.
Praise for Killing November:
“Adriana Mather deftly combines cinematic action, relatable characters, and wicked twists in this riveting boarding school thriller.” — Karen M. McManus, New York Times bestselling author of One of Us is Lying
“Mather has built a dark, intriguing universe. Between the boarding-school setting, the lessons in espionage, and the murder mystery, there’s plenty to grab readers.” —Booklist
“Subterfuge is the name of the game at an elite and secretive prep school. Revelations are well-paced . . . . Anything is possible in this world of cloaks and daggers. A strong beginning that will leave readers hungry for more.” —Kirkus
Adriana Mather is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch, with family roots that go back to Sleepy Hollow, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Titanic. She’s also an actor and producer best known for her role in the award-winning Honeyglue. She co-owns Zombot Pictures, a production company that makes feature films. Her first acting scene in a film ever was with Danny Glover, and she was terrified she would mess it up. In addition, her favorite food is pizza, she has too many cats, and a deep abiding love for all things autumnal.