Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Secrets. Betrayal. Seduction.
Welcome to the Alexandrian Society.

When the world’s best magicians are offered an extraordinary opportunity, saying yes is easy. Each could join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Their members enjoy a lifetime of power and prestige. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places.

Contenders Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona are inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds. Parisa Kamali is a telepath, who sees the mind’s deepest secrets. Reina Mori is a naturalist who can perceive and understand the flow of life itself. And Callum Nova is an empath, who can manipulate the desires of others. Finally there’s Tristan Caine, whose powers mystify even himself.

Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.

Five out of Six students will be initiated into The Alexandrian Society. With membership to this elusive society up for grabs, the six initiates must decide the price they’re willing to pay for knowledge and the influence and power it may give them in their future plans to dominate or reinvent the world.

The Atlas Six is an extremely compulsive story, where it is beyond easy for the reader to immerse themselves. The characters are either loveable or relatable, the academic environment is top-tier dark academia that is rife with a thirst for knowledge and competitive undertones students everywhere across the world will understand. 

I think what made me fall in love (*cough, obsess, cough*) over this story, was the well crafted balance of intellectual depth and believability. This secret society felt tangible, the merger of knowledge and magic was quite frankly mind-bending and the characters were viscerally flawed, vulnerable and oh so fascinating. 

The one thing many should know before going into TA6; this book reads like six character studies. This is a book where the story unfolds THROUGH the characters and their perspective, rather than the story happening to them or the reader following it with them (hopefully that makes sense, if not, lets just pretend it does…)

The book alternates between the core six – Libby, Nico, Parisa, Reina, Tristan and Callum. I genuinely worried alternating between six characters would be a problem for me; my attention span tends to not to cope with such a narrative style. However, Olivie Blake pulled it off. It’s just one of the many reasons I was left in awe of this debut. They are such compelling characters and going through the motions of liking or loathing them, or even a little bit of both sentiments, was a complete rollercoaster. Libby felt like an embodiment of insecurity and childlike innocence that was easily relatable. Parisa is a very charming and charismatic character. Even when she’s doing wrong, you can’t help but like her. There’s an honesty to Callum that is extremely off putting but by the novel’s end, I understood him. Nico is endearingly humorous and clearly has the biggest heart out of all of the initiates. I couldn’t settle between whether I found Tristan the sexiest (after Parisa) or if he was the most tragic. However, out of them all, I still feel like Reina is a stranger.

I really liked each of the six’s magical gift, and the idea that if they simply banded together, they could be something spectacular. And yet that’s where the dark academia vibes come into full effect. I was fascinated with the academic rivalries (and the different types). On one hand, from the get go, the dynamic of Libby and Nico was electrifying. You have these two academic rivals for years put in a position where they can either continue to compete or combine efforts to survive. I really loved seeing their dynamic bounce between hostility and banter with a deep rooted understanding of the other due to their history.

Then on the other hand, as hollowing as it felt at times, I must compliment the way dislike between certain characters was done – especially the “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” type. All of the more competitive or negative relationships really catapulted me back to high school, when some classmates took a deep rooted dislike for each other… for no apparent reason other than their own completely-warped-and-entirely-incorrect judgements. It was intense and full of melodrama and I. Couldn’t. Get. Enough. 

That is a quick summary of what I felt of the core six, because in truth, I could be here far longer if I broke down each of them. Beyond the six, there’s the caretaker of the society Atlas Blakely, his supporting colleague Dalton Ellery, as well as Libby’s boyfriend Ezra Fowler and Nico’s not quite human roommate, Gideon. I’m really, really, really looking forward to learning more about these four in the coming sequel! 

Funnily enough, I found the romantic elements of this book polarising. Sometimes I felt it, sometimes it was as if it had never been there. There’s definitely attractions and intercourse (that is, mostly fade to black)… But romance, if there actually was/is any, I’m still undecided where I stand on that. However, it’s undeniable how irresistibly gripping all of their interactions and dynamics were throughout.

I really need to commend Olivie Blake for capturing suspense and intrigue through the mystery of the story and the different kinds of magic. I couldn’t foresee where the story was going, and when I thought I had, my theories were completely toppled on their head. The story’s climax and ending tied all the threads together to answer the questions raised whilst also masterfully setting up the sequel. It has been a while where I’ve been left in such an impatient flux for a sequel, which clearly shows how much I enjoyed this. I’m following every crumb for news of the books and the Amazon TV adaptation, I’ve managed to get my hands on an go 2020 paperback to compare it and I’ll be meeting Olivie Blake in the flesh come April! That’s how invested I am in this series! 

So, to sum up: 
Chemistry between the characters? Yep. 
Interesting characters in of themselves? Definitely. 
An intricately crafted world that achieves just the perfect balance of magical realism and fantasy? And is the embodiment of dark academia? Undoubtedly. 
An exciting but slightly torturous cliffhanger? Regrettably.
A spellbinding new favourite series and obsession? Certainly.

All in all, if you like the alternating perspectives of Six of Crows, the vibes of schemers scheming schemes of The Cruel Prince or the writing style of Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education, then I guarantee The Atlas Six is not to be missed. It is one of the most alluring books published this year!

Thank you so, so, so, so much to the publishers for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.

Buy It Now

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