"Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line."
If you didn't quite get it through the summary, this is a modern adaptation and twist on the Shakespeare play Macbeth. What you also mightn't know about me is that I quite like Shakespeare, and Macbeth is my very favourite play of his. So when I heard there was going to be a retelling of the play in a haunted, elitist boarding school, I was exactly as excited as you'd expect me to be (very, very excited. Shakespeare + privileged children with no parental figures to answer to and money to blow? YES PLEASE!). And fortunately, this book definitely lived up to my expectations.
The story, obviously, revolves around Maria and Lily (also just a sidenote - the Lady Macbeth character in this book is named Lily. Like me. Could I have asked for anything better?), two girls willing to do anything to secure their future together. And they do go to serious, serious lengths to do so!
The characters' descent and spiral into insanity and immorality has always been one of the most moving aspects of Macbeth for me, and it was similar in As I Descended. The book starts quite lighthearted, as the author establishes the characters and school, but it is clear that the tone begins to change as the plot thickens. The spooky, creepy feel increases exponentially throughout the book; it only gets spookier with time. The writing style Talley adopts in the book fits the tone and characters perfectly. It is written in third person from multiple points of view, and this style of narration manages to simultaneously provide great insight into the characters and their differences, whilst also creating an eerie distance from them, which only adds to the creepy feel of the book. The writing style was one of the book's greatest assets (alongside the awesome, awesome premise).
I also felt that the characterisation was done incredibly effectively throughout the book. I felt very attached to all the characters (which is a little bit depressing, if you know the plotline and consequently the fates of the characters in Macbeth...), and so it made the emotional impact and my own investment in the story very high.
The whole book was written with very clever, subtle references to Macbeth that anyone who has read the play will appreciate. From the chapter titles to the section names, the names of characters and names of different places and events, there are little hints towards the original play that never failed to make me smile when I saw them. Especially the title of the epilogue... that bit definitely got me. These references definitely added to my overall enjoyment of the book.
I would most definitely recommend this book to fans of psychological thrillers, mysteries, and obviously, Macbeth. I cannot think of any books similar to it, except maybe Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. If you loved Dangerous Girls, I think you may also love As I Descended.
As always, let me know what you thought about As I Descended if you have read it, or if you plan to read it in the comments below or via any of my social media platforms in the banner :) If you have a similar recommendation or questions about the book, leave me a comment! And if you want to contact me for business, ARCs, a book recommendation, my own book, or just to say hi, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a lovely week and I will see you here again soon!