November is as good as dead. She just doesn't know it yet.
At the international Academy Absconditi, there's no electricity, no internet, and an archaic eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes range from knife throwing and poisons to the art of deception. And the students? All silver-spoon descendants of the world's most elite strategists--training to become assassins, spies, and master impersonators.
One is a virtuoso of accents--and never to be trusted. Another is a vicious fighter determined to exploit November's weaknesses. And then there's the boy with the mesmerizing eyes and a secret agenda.
November doesn't know how an ordinary girl like her fits into the school's complicated legacy. But when a student is murdered, she'll need to separate her enemies from her allies before the crime gets pinned on her . . . or she becomes the killer's next victim.
From New York Times bestselling author Adriana Mather comes the first book in a thrilling new series that will leave you breathless.
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||4 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
My name is November Adley and I was born in August. The way my dad tells it, the Connecticut nights were unusually cool that summer, and the day I arrived our maple burst with color reminiscent of late fall—hence my name. He claims the leaves shone so brightly in the morning sun that it looked like our front lawn was on fire. Dad also says that’s part of the reason I’m obsessed with the woods. I’m not sure there’s any connection, but I enjoy the comfort of that story—a reminder of a time when the world was safe and so was my family.
The most disorienting thing about safety—my own in particular—is that it never crossed my mind before. My ex-CIA, now–financial manager dad often tells me I’m too trusting, all the while shaking his head like he’s shocked that we’re related. Which I, of course, remind him is one hundred percent his fault, since I’ve lived my entire life in the same small town with the same friendly people, who pose about as much threat as a basket of sleeping kittens. Dad argues that I want to believe people are good and that while that’s admirable, it’s also not realistic. To which I ask him how it helps anyone to believe that people are bad. He claims that having a healthy sense of suspicion prepares you for every possible danger. But until now, it was all just a theory. And if I’m being honest, even yesterday, with Dad insisting there was an imminent threat to our family, I still wasn’t convinced. Nope, there was absolutely nothing indicative of danger in my life until a few minutes ago, when I woke up in this medieval-looking . . . parlor?
I frown. A man I’m assuming is a guard stands against the wall next to me. He’s staring forward, blatantly ignoring me, as I consider the door. I push as hard as I can on the wrought-iron latch and even throw my shoulder into the dark wood, but it doesn’t budge. I let out a huff from the effort and scan the room. There’s a roaring fire in the fireplace and maroon velvet furniture that probably costs more than my entire house. But there are no windows and the door in front of me is the only exit.
“I know you hear me,” I say to the guard, who so far hasn’t answered a single one of my questions. He’s dressed all in black, with a leather belt and leather armbands that put to shame the Roman gladiator costume I wore last year for Halloween. I toy with the idea of snapping my fingers in front of his face, but he’s a good foot taller than me and his arms are more muscular than my legs.
He remains silent.
I try another angle. “You know I’m a minor, right? That you can’t keep me locked up in this . . . Well, I’m assuming this is my new boarding school. But what kind of a school locks up their students?” Dad told me this place would be different, but I have a hard time believing he meant I’d be trapped in a windowless room.
Just then I hear a key slide into the door and it swings outward. My shoulders drop and my hands unclench. Another guard, dressed identically to the first, gestures for me to follow him. I don’t waste a second. Unfortunately, the room guard comes, too, and walking between them, I feel almost as confined as I did in that room.
The guard in front pulls a lit torch off the gray stone wall and I take inventory of my surroundings—the lack of electricity, the arched ceilings, the heavy wooden doors that use latches instead of knobs. There’s no way I’m still in the United States. This place looks like something out of a documentary I once streamed about medieval Irish castles. However, I find it nearly impossible to believe Dad would send me all the way to Europe, not to mention be able to pay for it. We almost never leave Pembrook, much less the state of Connecticut.
As we continue to walk, I notice impressive hanging tapestries depicting knights, royal courts, and bloody battles. It’s also dead quiet, no sounds of people chatting or cars driving by.
The hall has a distinct chill, and I pull the sleeves of my sweater down over my fingers for warmth. I have no idea what happened to the coat, gloves, and scarf I wore onto the plane; they weren’t in the room with me when I woke up. We pass under an archway and ascend a staircase with worn, uneven stone steps. I count two landings and three flights before we come to a stop in front of a door patterned with iron rivets. The lead guard unlatches it and warm air billows out.
The antiquated office reminds me of a somber scene in a movie about Mary, Queen of Scots. The only light in the room comes from an abundance of candles set in silver candelabras and in sconces on the stone walls. The windows are covered with heavy curtains and a fire blazes inside the fireplace, filling the air with the scent of woodsmoke.
A tall, thin woman stands behind a seemingly ancient desk. Her brown hair is pulled into a high bun so tight that it gives me a headache just looking at it. She’s probably around Dad’s age, but her severity makes her seem older.
She does a poor impression of a smile. “Welcome to Academy Absconditi. I’m Headmaster Blackwood. I trust your trip was agreeable?” Her voice and demeanor command obedience.
“I don’t remember my trip,” I say, feeling uneasy under her gaze as I pull a piece of fuzz off my jeans. The rant I was working up downstairs feels inappropriate in this formal setting. “I passed out on the plane and woke up on a couch in the . . . To be honest, I’m confused how—”
“Teachers’ lounge,” she says, and gestures for me to sit in an armchair in front of her desk. The frills of a white blouse spill out from the edges of her black blazer. The contradiction makes me wonder which one she is—uptight and trying to appear approachable, or soft and trying to look stern. “You were out for some time.”
“I was locked up down there,” I say, expecting shock, but it doesn’t come. I turn and look behind me. Both guards are still with us, one on either side of the now-closed door. Whether they’re protecting her or preventing me from leaving is unclear. Maybe both.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have a lot of mixed feelings about Killing November and I'm not even sure what to rate it. I nearly DNFed it throughout the first third and it took all I had to push myself to keep going. This was supposed to be a book about a secret academy for secret members but it just felt too unbelievable. I didn't like how left in the dark we were and the answers we did get seemed predictable. I love thrillers and mysteries but this one just didn't do it for me. I wasn't given enough to make me invested in the story or propel me to the end to get answers. The relationships in this weren't believable to me and I was constantly confused by characters actions or motivations. I just needed more from the characterization and a lot more details about who she was, the Families, and the academy. It had a lot of potential but it just didn't do it for me. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from Knopf Books for Young Readers through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*
This story was intense with a complicated list of characters, but I really enjoyed it. A boarding school is a great setting for a thriller. This school was very isolated and hidden from the world. No one even knows where it was located. The connections between the characters and their families was complex. It took a while to figure out who everyone was, and what side they were on. The main character, November, was thrown into the situation with as much information as the reader, so we learned along with her. The only thing that disappointed me was that the story didn’t really start until halfway through the book. I was kind of lost up until then. The different families and their histories weren’t clearly laid out until that point and that was an important part to the story. I wish it was made clear closer to the beginning, so it wasn’t as confusing. The ending was open to a sequel, so I hope the story will continue! I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Killing November by Adriana Mather Read: 04/11-04/14 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 First off: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review! What I Liked: I really liked how consistent November’s character growth was throughout the book. Oftentimes authors will have their characters jump from inexperienced to perfect at everything. Mather did a great job at showing November gain new skills but not overnight become a master at everything. It made the storyline more realistic. I also enjoyed her relationships with the various characters. The world of the “Families” was so intriguing that I am eager to learn more about them. Parts of the plot were a little predictable but Mather did a good job at putting her own twist onto them so that it felt unique. What I Didn’t Like: I personally am not a huge fan of the trope where the main character has absolutely no idea what is happening and is thrown into a situation where everyone around them does. It ends up taking up a lot of the plot of the book because the character has to learn about everything happening. That was my biggest complaint about this book. There was a lot of explaining or history lessons that were done in soliloquies by different characters. Mather created this interesting world but it was being built through lectures rather than experience. That and November was extremely naive considering how she was raised. I enjoyed that she was trusting and wanted to see the good in people. That trait was key to the storyline and not what bothered me. Instead, it was that she was so surprised that her dad was not who she thought he was but then shared all about her strange upbringing. To me, it didn’t match. Overall, this was not my favorite of Adriana Mather’s books but it intrigued me and I think the sequels will be more action packed now that November is more familiar with the world. Rating: 7/10 Facebook: From Jen’s Bookshelf Instagram: @fromjensbookshelf
At the mysterious Academy Absconditi, a school that's completely off the grid, there's no electricity, no internet, and a brutal eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from knife-throwing and poisons to the art of deception. And the other students? All children of the world's most elite strategists, in training to become assassins, spies, and master manipulators. November Adley doesn't know why she's been sent to this place, or the secrets that make up its legacy, but she'll quickly discover that allies are few in a school where competition is everything... After coming off season one of the syfy show Deadly Class (another Assassin’s school-which I am obsessed with now) this book had me at page one. I haven’t finished a book this fast in a while! A crazy thrill ride that left me picking this book up again and again every second that I could. Great plot, and characters. Lots of suspense, and twists and turns! It left me guessing the entire time. Add in a bit of a romance (but not too overpowering) and it was a recipe for success! This was just fabulous, and I enjoyed it so much! I have loved everything this author has written so far, but I think this is my favorite one!! I need the next book now!!!
I read Adriana's first book, How To Hang a Witch and liked it. After reading this new book from her, I loved it. I enjoyed the new take on private school education - like a deadlier "I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You". I loved the mystery aspect to this novel and the fact that November had as much of an idea what was going on as the reader does. Figuring out what is going on together is my favorite kind of mysteries. I also enjoyed the family set ups - it made a more dramatic view on Romeo and Juliet without sticking to the typical story plot. Overall, I really liked this book and I definitely want to read the sequel!
I loved this book!! It has everything I enjoy - family intrigue, a super secret boarding school where the classes include knife-throwing, poisons, and strategy, where the students all have ulterior motives, and competition is fierce. Shortly after she arrives at the school, a student is murdered, and November needs to find out fast why she is being framed and who wants to kill her. She'll have to decide who to trust with the help of her new roommate who can't decide if she's worth the trouble, and her roommate's twin brother who is too attractive and too good at reading people. Side note: Layla is my favorite character. She's awesome. If you have trouble keeping track of characters, I would suggest making a note for yourself about the different students, as there are 10 whose names come up often and are important to the story. I can't say who without risking revealing plot points, but there are some characters I definitely would have liked to know more about and seen more of. But what I did see I was intrigued by and was fully engrossed! I am so excited this is going to be a series, and I am thrilled to say there is not a cliffhanger. We are pointed in the direction the next book is going, but luckily there isn't a crazy edge-of-my-seat cliffhanger that would keep my heart racing for a year or more (because I hate that feeling). This will definitely be a book I reread, and if you liked the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, this is a much darker version. There is violence and murder obviously, so be warned if that upsets you, but I loved this first installment and can't wait to see where the series and characters are going!!
When looking at the cover and reading the description and actually reading this story I was expecting a different kind of story that what was read in a good way. First off, in my opinion, I am not a fan of using general words as names such as November or Saturday. It makes the reader totally confused. Anyways aside from that while reading into the book, I could not help but think that is is another young rendition of Carrie is which a student is murdered and they think another student committed the murder so the whole class turns against them. However, I am a huge fan of twists and unexpected endings and I was glad the book delivered with that. We will consider this title for our YFantasy collection at the library and that is why we give this book 4 stars.
What an awesome premise - a school that trains assassins. Throw in some murders, and you've got a ton of suspects, right? I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. The cover didn't do much for me, but the description sounded crazy good. And it delivered - I wanted to finish this book in one sitting. November's life changes vastly almost overnight - and she has no clue what's going on. Every student at the school seems to know things about her, but she's never met any of them, and no one is willing to share their knowledge. Every student is also a trained killer and strategist, and trusting the wrong person could be a fatal error. The stakes are high throughout the book, and I found myself holding my breath in some scenes. I'm pretty sure I suspected almost everyone at some point in the story. It's obvious the author did her research in nonverbal communication and weapons, with some historical tidbits thrown in that add to the authenticity of the story. Once the secrets are revealed, some are surprising and some predictable, but they sure do make for a tense, exciting read. With fabulous character development, political intrigue, a complex, thrilling plot, and a main character whose life is in jeopardy on nearly every page, Killing November is addictive, and one of my best reads this year. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.