As I Descended
As I Descended
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Annotation: Tapping a dark power to prevent the favorite candidate of a distinguished educational prize from winning, school power couple Maria and Lily unleash fatal energies that blur the lines between reality and madness.
Catalog Number: #127692
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2016
Pages: 370 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-06-240923-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-240923-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2015959762
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Maria and Lily aren't just roommates at their prestigious prep school ey're secretly in love. They plan to go to Stanford together, but that dream can only become reality if Maria wins the Cawdor Kingsley Prize and scholarship. But Delilah Dufrey, Maria's rival, is the clear favorite, despite an addiction to the painkillers she swipes from Lily, who was left disabled after a childhood accident. Their school, built on an old southern plantation, is rumored to be haunted, and armed with a Ouija board, Maria and Lily desperately contact these spirits for help taking down Delilah, only to find that what they unleash is stronger than they can control. This update of Macbeth is best when it expands on the original; at times, it cleaves too closely to the source material, leaving few surprises. Still, Talley wrestles with interesting themes, including several same-sex relationships and race relations in the contemporary South tina Maria is constantly reminded of the school's white supremacist past. An intriguing, appropriately atmospheric take on one of Shakespeare's most spine-tingling plays.
Horn Book
In this Macbeth homage set at an elite boarding school with a diverse student body, Lily plots to ensure her girlfriend Maria's scholarship: she will get rival Delilah disqualified by drugging her. When this scheme backfires, the couple deceives and harms others to cover it up. The girls' ruthlessness is chilling enough without the supernatural elements, which draw upon a multitude of horror tropes and don't quite cohere.
Publishers Weekly
Talley (What We Left Behind) creates a dark and twisted gothic boarding school setting replete with vengeful spirits, drugs, and suicide in this Shakespeare-inspired tragedy. Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten, roommates at Virginia-s exclusive Acheron Academy, are also secretly in love. The girls plan on attending Stanford after graduation, far from disapproving parents and peers. Standing in their way is Delilah Dufrey, the school-s golden girl, who is poised to win the coveted Cawdor Kingsley Prize, which guarantees the winner full tuition to the college of their choice. Lily uses a Ouija board and Maria-s belief in the paranormal to persuade her that they should expose Deliah-s drug use, but her plans go horribly awry when the girls inadvertently release angry ghosts. Third-person narration shifts among multiple characters, revealing more to readers than they do to each other. As Talley adeptly weaves elements of horror into the narrative, she creates an ominous yet comfortable boarding school environment that lulls readers into a false sense of security while setting them up for the next chilling event. Ages 14-up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up Something wicked comes to Virginia's elite Acheron Academy in this modern retelling of one of Shakespeare's darkest works. Overachiever and second-most-popular girl Maria, who is bisexual, and her scheming girlfriend, Lily, who is disabled and a lesbian, are determined to have Maria win the coveted Kingsley Prize, which guarantees entrance into any college and will enable the couple to stay together after high school. A séance reveals cryptic prophecies and opens the door to a plethora of spirits, leaving the girls unable to control their own action. Their cruel and manipulative plans to unseat the most popular girl are just the first of many schemes that go horribly wrong. Before long, Maria and Lily are not the only ones admitting to interacting with spirits. Students are having bad dreams, hearing phantom noises, and seeing ghosts. The couple's desire for power grows, and what looked like ruthlessness now seems like madness. As the tragedy unfolds, no one at Acheron is safeleast of all Maria and Lily. Talley's novel is ambitious but successfully so. The work address racism, classism, and homophobia, all couched in a horror retelling of Macbeth . Notably, all four of the main charactersMaria, Lily, Mateo, and Brandonare not straight. Those familiar with the source material will not be surprised at how the story plays out, but knowing the eventual outcomes does not diminish Talley's dark tale about fate and ambition. VERDICT A highly recommended, absorbing read with wide appeal. Amanda MacGregor, Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud, MN
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A group of high school students find themselves caught in a familiar spiral of vaulting ambition and direst cruelty in Talley's 21st-century spin on Shakespeare's bloody tragedy Macbeth.Maria Lyon, a Latina senior at the private Acheron Academy on an old Virginia plantation, is second in her class and the school princess—one step down in success and popularity from its white queen bee, Delilah Dufrey. Lily Boiten, Maria's white, driven girlfriend, who walks with crutches due to a childhood accident, hates that Delilah seems to receive everything Maria rightly deserves—in fact, she hates Delilah, period. The closeted couple desperately wishes to stay together when they graduate and go on to Stanford, a future that can only be assured if Maria wins the prestigious Cawdor Kingsley Award, which means eliminating Delilah. But whether through the influence of maliciously manipulative spirits—the legacy of the school grounds' dark history as a site of enslavement—or that of the students' own misguided aspirations, the fulfillment of Maria and Lily's wish will destroy more than just Delilah, as each previously unthinkable act justifies the next in a frightening and ambition-fueled descent into corruption, betrayal, and death. Talley's intense reimagining seamlessly weaves the contemporary motivations of a diverse teen cast together with classic guilt and mistrust in a devastating marriage of the stunningly unexpected with the maddeningly inevitable. This adaptation's bewitching intrigues and enthralling deceptions will whet the daggers of any reader's mind. (Thriller. 14 & up)
Voice of Youth Advocates
Maria and Lily are boarding school roommates who are secretly in love. Life is bliss for them, except that Maria has no chance at getting the scholarship she needs and deserves as long as nasty Delilah Duffey rules the school and takes everything for herself. After a night of summoning a spirit through an antique Ouija board, however, all that is about to change. Will the couple get everything they want, or, like that couple in "the Scottish play," will their ambition lead to tragedy?Fans of horror will find that Talley comes up with some genuinely creepy scares, and her Shakespeare-inspired story is solid and compelling. Unfortunately, her protagonists are frustratingly inconsistent. While, at first, Lily, like Lady Macbeth, seems to be the catalyst for Maria's evil acts, soon, the too-good-to-be-true Maria is flying off the rails on her own, leaving Lily as a nearly innocent victim of the evil unleashed. Both Lily and Maria are interesting characters, so it is a shame that what would otherwise be a quality exercise in horror is marred by the inconsistencies in their behavior.Sean Rapacki.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
ALA Booklist (8/1/16)
Horn Book (8/1/17)
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (7/1/16)
Voice of Youth Advocates
Word Count: 83,075
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 12.0 / quiz: 184058 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.2 / points:20.0 / quiz:Q69344
Lexile: HL670L

From the acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley, comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—but one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Delilah doesn’t know that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to unseat Delilah for the scholarship. After all, it would lock in Maria’s attendance at Stanford—and assure her and Lily four more years in a shared dorm room.

Together, Maria and Lily harness 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’s imagined, the girls must attempt to put a stop to the chilling series of events they’ve accidentally set in motion.


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