Here I was thinking that perhaps dark academia wasn’t for me, but then The Atlas Six comes along, and satisfies my craving for a deeply philosophical novel centered around magic.
From the six different magicians, to the competition racing to the death, the philosophical discussions about life, knowledge and magic, this was everything I wanted and more.
Morally grey magicians
Each of the characters are fascinating, and I loved reading about each one of them.
First you’ve got Libby and Nico, recent graduates who can transform the world based on their manipulation of physics. I loved their love-hate relationship and how they constantly bickered and squabbled. Libby is very antsy and suffers from anxiety, whereas Nico has a co-dependant relationship with a half-merman. I loved the tension and banter that they had and how without one, you can’t have the other.
The problem with knowledge, is its inexhaustible craving. the more of it you have, the less you feel you know.
Then there’s Parisa, who is a seductress who can read minds, and knows many secrets. She’s the best kind of villain, morally grey and extremely alpha.
We’ve got Reina, a naturalist who is connected to the earth through plants and living objects. She’s not here to be the best, in fact she hates the attention. Reina is keen on the library and the archives that being one of the inducted has given her.
There’s also Tristan Caine, a tortured soul and a privileged illusionist who can see through people’s illusions. While it’s not entirely clear why he’s here, his power offers an interesting mystery to be uncovered.
The last character to round out the Six is Callum, the other villainous character who can influence and manipulate people. His motivations are unclear and it’s clear that he’s one that needs to be watched.
Forming relationships and alliances
While there wasn’t very much academia or learning per se, I loved how the novel centered on the relationships between each character as they forged alliances with one another. Out of the six that are chosen, one of them must die so that the rest can advance into high society with their skills.
Initially, we’re not told very much about each of the characters, and it was fascinating learning how advanced their magic was. When faced with danger, other organisations threatening their loyalty, and then possible homicide and death, they are placed under situations which force them to work together to find out what each of them can do. This is a very character driven novel, and a very queer one at that.
“We are the gods of our own universes, aren’t we? Destructive ones.”
Watching each of them grapple with deciding who to kill, and who they could spare to lose was fascinating in itself – as they each think very differently – some more practical and ruthless than not. It was enjoyable seeing it all play out, and whether they could follow through with their plans.
If you’re a fan of magical characters – and let’s face it – who isn’t, The Atlas Six will definitely satisfy the craving for fascinating magical personalities. The Atlast Six features fascinating queer characters who are morally grey, intellectual and brilliant, and it’s a real pleasure to read about them. I can definitely see why this is a TikTok favourite book! I’m very excited for The Atlas Paradox – which has just been released. Stay tuned for my review on that one!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy!
The Atlas Six is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$32.99 or from The Book Depository.
Trigger warnings: suicidal ideation
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