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“She kissed me with a martyr’s agonized desperation, like I was the only sword she ever wanted to fall on. I kissed her right back like the cutting edge of a blade, trying to inflict as much damage as possible.”

an education in maliceHot on the heels of her debut “A Dowry of Blood,” S.T. Gibson continues her foray into dark poetry with “An Education in Malice,” a deliciously written erotic Dark Academia that brings us to Saint Perpetua College through the eyes of Laura and Carmilla, two students who at first could not seem more different. Thanks to a relationship with their professor, De Lafontaine, what begins as a rivalry blooms into a lustful romance with a backdrop of dark magic and conspiracy.

The highlight of “Malice” is definitely Gibson’s voice. Having begun as a poet, Gibson understands how to structure a sentence and what words to utilize to invoke exactly the right emotion she intends. Her descriptions are flowery, but not overly verbose, and few writers can conjure the sensation of longing and desire through innermost thoughts. 

The book lives and dies upon its characters and Gibson utilizes the canvas that is the original Sheridan LeFanu Carmilla to a fine extent. Laura is given more depth than the consummate innocent of the vampire tale, with hidden desires and strengths explored, while Carmilla’s vulnerabilities and power plays well against Laura’s own. The rivals to lovers exploration is a slow burn, but the attraction and longing helps things sizzle from the page from the very start.

If there is a flaw, it is that the characters occasionally overwhelm the story. The pacing is sometimes languid, at other times breathtakingly quick, and the dark romance and kink takes the front seat. Small complaints with how eloquently Gibson presents the world and the increasingly mysterious De Lafontaine. The book excels in its core relationship and with Gibson’s enjoyment of the boundaries and power held by both Laura and Carmilla, there’s a lot that “Education in Malice” has to teach.

An Education in Malice

An Education in Malice

An Education in Malice

An Education in Malice

An Education in Malice

An Education in Malice

An Education in Malice

An Education in Malice

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