I really enjoyed The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy for several reason which I will detail in my review but the female ensemble cast was great. I haven’t read enough of Ursu’s work something I intent to remedy, this however was a gem.
The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy
If no one notices Marya Lupu, is likely because of her brother, Luka. And that’s because of what everyone knows: that Luka is destined to become a sorcerer.
The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city of Illyria, but that doesn’t matter. Every young boy born in in the kingdom holds the potential for the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread.
For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy—a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya.
Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she’s never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country’s powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself—things that threaten the precarious balance upon which Illyria is built.
I really love the feminist point of view of this book. Marya comes from a society with very few if any opportunities for women and educated women are seen as a threat, for example look what happens to Marya’s neighbor the seamstress when she tries to teach her a secret method of communication that the women of IIIyria used. I love that the women of IIIyria had a secret language as it mirror a lot of real life real secret languages that craftspeople use.
I loved that the problem IIIyria was facing was basically from taking away women’s agency and only way to solve it was for women to get their agency back. I loved what Dragomir Academy eventually became and the great cast of young women who were involved with running it with Marya.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and zoomed through it in maybe 3 days. Would definitely read more fantasy in the same universe.