I was so excited to get my hands on one of Olivie Blake’s books and review it on my blog, The Atlas Six was an outstanding read, not that I expected anything less.
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Rated: Five Stars out of Five Summary: The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.
I first encountered Olivie’s work a few years ago, and it’s such an honour to see how much her work has grown since. She has always been a strong writer, her characters so rich and human, but this novel showed how far she has grown as a writer and a creative. She has several other books—some I have had the pleasure of reading, and is definitely an author to read and watch out for.
The book begins by showing you the lives of six highly skilled magicians who are invited to enrol into a ‘secret society‘ that only the best are invited to. The best part about this is that none of them, prior to this meeting, knew anything about its existence. It’s a strong start that had me eager to know more; it hooked me in with its dagger-in-the-dark approach and its multi-layered characters. It only makes itself more inviting by how secretive this society is and aimed to remain as such.
Quickly, as the first several chapters unfold, you find yourself asking far too many questions, knowing not all of them will be answered quickly. When you begin to think of this story as one thing, it promptly becomes another, shapeshifting to keep you on your toes and your eyes glued to the page.
You are, by one-quarter of the book, thrown into an action sequence that could be something from a movie, and that one day I get to see with my own eyes in a cinema. Obviously—because Olivie’s writing is always far deeper than you first thing—the deviousness of the society deepens immediately as the story progresses, taking various turns that make your head spin in ways you continuously adore. But it’s the characters that hooked me, how deeply flawed, how multi-layered each one of them really is, but not in the way you initially see, letting the story peel back the layers of each character.
“Asked,” echoed Reina at a murmur, and Atlas turned to her with a smile. “Asked,” he confirmed, “politely. And from there, dealt with as appropriate.”The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake
No one is one dimensional, something Olivie has always been good at doing, but she excelled herself in this.
Even now, weeks after finishing, I’m not entirely sure who was playing a game and who was being truthful. Is there even more beneath the surface to some of them? I can only imagine that there are pages and pages of character notes because as you read this story, you can sense that.
As some of you know, I am a massive lover of stories with characters driving the story, and this one has sparked that love back into me. The characters are clever, sometimes too clever, and push their way forward as if they’re the ones writing it—something I’ve found lacking in recent reads.
In The Atlas Six, however, the fact it is told from various POV’s and they all have their own agendas really paints a story that is multi-sided, you get to objectively make your own assessment—rather than being fed the narrative from one, or even two unreliable narrators.
You are also able to see, sort of Big-Brother-style, how everything comes together from each part of the house. Whilst one is doing this, another is doing that, and you’re able to sew—eventually—the truth of what is going off, although the ending comes along and really blows that out of the water.
“You know why you don’t understand me?” Parisa answered Reina’s thoughts, stepping closer to lower her voice. “Because you think you’ve figured me out. You think you’ve met me before, other versions of women like me, but you have no idea what I am. You think my looks are what make me? My ambitions? You can’t begin to know the sum of my parts, and you can stare all you like, but you won’t see a damn thing until I show you.”The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake
Why? You must wonder. Well, even as things began to come together, the puzzle living in this story and Olivie’s fingers, you find a crucial bit of information that leaves a taste in your mouth you’re not sure of. And for me, someone who prides themselves on having guesses at who is the ‘untrustworthy one’, I found myself flabbergasted (a word I really feel I should use more) that I overlooked this person. Just something to keep in mind—but I will say no more.
I’m confident that if you love magic, characters with hearts and brains as big as our own, and you’re prepared to be taken on a trip, then you will love this book.
Even now, post-read, I want more. I want—and secretly hope—there is another book, but even if there isn’t, it’s left me with that hunger, which is a true credit to the author.
So far, this may have been my favourite read of 2020, a title not easy to achieve. It really pushed me, it had me both desperate and cautious to read all at once, and whilst the stories—and the way they’re written is different—the last feeling I had this with was ’The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, which was my favourite of 2019.
I gave this book five out of five stars, and as I try to find something I didn’t love about it—even now on reflection—I simply can’t. This book has also been the hardest book to review because I feel I‘m still in a head spin from the ending, and how everything I thought, wasn’t close to what it was.
“How many people have wanted to kill you, Dalton?” “Probably very many.” ”How deliciously uncommon,” she offered evasively.The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake
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