Review: The Awakening (Zodiac Academy #1) by Caroline Peckham and Suzanne valenti

They are all over social media, the books in the Zodiac Academy series. I was able to postpone it for a very long time, but at the end of 2022 I caved in and got myself the first book: The Awakening. It ended up being the first book I’ve started in 2023 and now it’s time to entertain you with my thoughts.

Title: The Awakening
Author: Caroline Peckham, Susanne Valenti
Series: Zodiac Academy #1
Publisher: Indepently Published
Publish date: September 8, 2021
Number of pages: 434
ISBN: 9781914425028
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

You have been selected to attend Zodiac Academy, where your star sign defines your destiny.
If you’re one of the Fae, elemental magic is in your blood. And apparently it’s in ours. As twins born in the month of Gemini, we’re a rare breed even in this academy of supernatural a-holes.
Changelings were outlawed hundreds of years ago but I guess our birth parents didn’t get the memo. Which means we’re totally unprepared for the ruthless world of Fae.
Air. Fire. Water. Earth.
No one has ever harnessed all four of them, until we arrived. And it hasn’t made us any friends so far.
As the rarest Elementals ever known, we’re already a threat to the four celestial heirs; the popular, vindictive bullies who happen to be some of the hottest guys we’ve ever seen. It doesn’t help that they’re the most dangerous beasts in the Academy. And probably on earth too.
Our fates are intertwined, but they want us gone. They’ve only got until the lunar eclipse to force us out and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.
We never knew we had a birthright to live up to but now that we do, we intend to claim our throne.
We can’t expect any help from the faculty when it comes to defending ourselves. So if the dragon shifters want some target practice, the werewolves want someone to hunt or the vampires fancy a snack then we have to be ready. But we’ve been looking after each other for a long time and fighting back is in our blood.
Today’s horoscope: totally screwed.
This is a full-length medium burn novel that is the first in a university-age academy series. Expect forbidden love and bully romance with mature content suitable for upper YA readers and onwards.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

My thoughts

First, a word of warning. This book contains many triggers, such as bullying, physical and mental abuse and assault. This series is a bully romance series, so please be aware of that when picking this up.

The story is about Tory and Darcy, twins who live in the mortal realm. They happen to be fae and not just any fae. No, they are the long lost heirs to the throne of Solaria. In their absence, four celestial families rule the country and therefore there are four celestial heirs. Once Tory and Darcy are thrown from the mortal realm straight into Zodiac Academy, they have no clue about the world of the fae at all. They have to deal with academic live, as well as getting up to speed with their peers, managing their powers and on top of it all the constant hatred of the other students. They are thrown into a fight for the throne: will they claim it or loose it to the celestial heris? They only find out once and if – a very big if – graduate from Zodiac Academy.

Since this is a multiple pov narrative, we get both twins’ perspective ont he story. However, i found it hard to tell them apart, because Tory and Darcy are really alike and so is their narrative. None of them really stood out to me. The chapters alternate between the twins and therefore you get to know them both and also get their full story. However, they could have been excecuted better. They are not together at the academy all the time, which leads them to be involved at some events of their own. Many events get recapped, but because they have their own problems to deal with, we get new information bit by bit. However, every single character in this falls flat.

The atmosphere in this book is quite tense. Since it’s a bully romance, it’s to be expected. The girls have to be on edge nearly all the time, which makes them tense as well. Thankfully, not every character is a bully, so there are actually some nice moments in the story. However, the plot itself is pretty basic, yet kind of intriguing. It’s fast-paced and that mainly has to do with the writing. But, for the plot, expect your average boarding school drama with little depth. The fae are not the nice creatures we know from for example ACOTAR. However, they could have been explored better.

Did I enjoy The Awakening? Actually yes. It was a nice in-between read. However, I really notice that it’s a self-pub title and I’m usually not a fan of these. Don’t expect a high quality book when picking this up and be aware that this will be a 9-book series. The 8th book just got released. Myself, I had a nice time reading the first book in this series, but I just don’t know whether I can be bothered to pick up the rest.

In short

Things I liked:

  • The story is fast-paced and therefore easy to read;
  • It’s a multiple POV narrative, the chapters alternate between Tory and Darcy;
  • The atmosphere is quite tense;
  • The plot is very basic, yet intriguing.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Although intriguing, the plot is very basic with almost no depth;
  • It’s really visible that this is a self-pub title;
  • None of the characters stand out to me;
  • It’s going to be a 9-book series.


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