Vita Nostra: A Novel

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Sasha is taking a summer vacation by the sea with her mother, when a man in mirrored sunglasses begins to follow Sasha throughout the small beach town. It seems like a bad dream, until he starts making strange, indirect threats. Fearing for her family, Sasha agrees to complete a set of tasks for him. And so, she dutifully gets up at four every morning to swim far from shore for the rest of the summer. As her reward, the man forcibly enrolls Sasha in the Institute of Special Technologies, a strange college in the middle of nowhere. The older students at the Institute all seem inexplicably impaired—missing limbs and thousand-yard stares. Sasha can’t get a straight answer from anyone: what is the Institute teaching its students to become?

The authors have a remarkable knack for describing the gruesome and abstract oddities that Vita Nostra depends on, which the translator has carried over well—textbooks with multi-dimensional diagrams, unexpected metamorphosis, and oppressively complete Silence. The oblique and hostile manner of the Institute’s instructors, which Sasha starts to mirror as she learns more, keeps the Institute’s mysteries obscured until the very last moments of the book. The transcendental pile-up does begin to tire due to the book’s sheer length, but Vita Nostra is the purest version of the magical academy fantasy setting: what does it look and feel like when your world is exploded by new paradigms of understanding?

Reviewed By:

Author Sergiy Dyachenko • Maryna Shyrshova-Dyachenko
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 416 pages
Publisher Harper Voyager
Publish Date 2018-Nov-13
ISBN 9780062694591 Buy this Book
Issue November 2018
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy


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