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Book Review: “The Atlas Six” delights and questions in true dark academia fashion

Secret societies? Check. Enigmatic characters? Check. Unique magical affinities that test the limits of time, space, life, and death? Double-check. This is the groundwork for the dark academia-inspired, new adult novel "The Atlas Six" by Olivia Blake (the penname of Alexene Farol Follmuth).

The Alexandrian Society, a secret organization of caretakers to ancient, magical knowledge, is on the hunt for their next round of initiates to uphold the organization and its secrets. Earning a place among the Alexandrians opens up the doors to unimaginable wealth, knowledge, and power in a world shaped by the magical elites. Every decade, six candidates with unique, magical affinities are selected to participate in a fellowship of sorts to dive into the society's archives and contribute their own knowledge to various subjects.

But all isn't as it seems–only five candidates are initiated, one is eliminated. This year-long fellowship will be a fight for their lives and reveal the motivations and secrets of the Alexandrian society and the initiates. To say the least, "The Atlas Six" is a wild ride of secrets, the power of knowledge, and the lengths we go for power and glory.

You know when you start a novel, and you can already tell you're going to love and hate the characters? Right off the bat, this was my reaction just 10 pages into "The Atlas Six." Enigmatic personalities combined with a wide range of nuances set each character apart and create a diverse–and cunning class of self-preserving, mad geniuses and dynamics.

The initiates each bring something brilliant to the table–not just their magical affinities. Nico and Libby's endless rivalry, Reina's apathy, Callum's superiority complex, Tristan's strange affinity, and Parisa's cunning sensuality makes for one helluva group dynamic within the walls of the Alexandrian Society.

Blake's jumping narrative from initiate to initiate pulls back the curtain on each protagonist's motivations, fears, and morals during the year-long fellowship. The multiple perspectives add a layer of mystery to the novel, which may not make sense but being left in the dark on the innermost fears and thoughts of each protagonist only leaves you wanting more and builds upon the secrecy of the society and group.

Blake weaves high-brow, philosophical discourse about magic into each character's stream of consciousness between the magical studies and the fellowship's competitive nature. Rather than laying the philosophy on thick, Blake dumbs down the discourse for readers to easily understand without wallowing in the pretentious that often comes with these philosophical discussions.

Each character's philosophical debate reveals the hidden motivations and pressures of the Atlas Six–allowing the initiation class to flourish in their character arcs and blossom into larger-than-life yet utterly relatable protagonists.

Whether you've read your fair share of philosophy or not, the discourse is effortless to follow along with and is a wondrous highlight of "The Atlas Six." In my experience, whenever philosophical dialogue is thrown into a novel, it's often too high-brow for the average reader to understand–yet Blake masters the art of making the notoriously pretentious studies accessible to all readers without any condescending tone.

Truthfully, I don't believe I've ever devoured a novel in the way "The Atlas Six" provoked me to do. From the enigmatic characters to the mystery of the fellowship, the philosophical discourse to the novel's sensuality, "The Atlas Six" delights, questions, and invokes waves of anger all in one deliciously sexy and dark academia-fueled masterpiece.

If it wasn't apparent already, the moment Blake announces the sequel to "The Atlas Six," I will be preordering and restlessly waiting for my questions to be answered and to be thrown back into the world of Blake's masterpiece.

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