I have so many problems with this book I don’t even know where to begin. It’s seems meant for younger YA readers, and yet it’s about college-age kids. It handles adult themes with disturbing flippancy. My skin crawled and I, who am hardly ever triggered by a book, was triggered by some of the disturbing interactions. Read my full review of the series here—this is just my reaction to the first book.

Author: Susanne ValentiCaroline Peckham

Genre: YA Fantasy

Link to StoryGraph: link

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I’m a Gemini. Impulsive. Curious. Headstrong. A twin. Heir to a throne I know nothing about. And it turns out, I’m Fae.

But of course there’s a catch – all I have to do to claim my birth right is prove that I’m the most powerful supernatural in the whole of Solaria. And sure, technically that’s true as I’m the daughter of the Savage King. But the bit they didn’t put in the brochure was that every single Fae in this Kingdom would claim my throne if they could.

The school they’ve sent me to is both dangerous as sh*t and one helluva party. Vampires bite weaker students in the corridors, the Werewolf pack has orgies in the Wailing Wood at every full moon and don’t even get me started on the dark and twisted ways the Sirens use their powers on people’s emotions, or how my sinfully tempting Cardinal Magic teacher hosts detentions that leave people needing therapy.

Classes are totally interesting if you manage to live through them. And that Gemini star sign I mentioned? It now determines my elemental magic and affects my destiny, so learning astrology is essential if I’m going to beat down my classmates – which is actively encouraged by the way.

My biggest problem is the drool worthy Dragon shifter who has his eyes on my throne. He and his three psycho friends are determined to make my time here hell.

All I’ve got to do is survive. But fate might have other ideas.

Dammit, why couldn’t I have gotten a letter to Hogwarts?


Kylie had recorded the whole thing. Oh God, please no. Soon, everyone in the school would have witnessed me kissing Seth then him slicing off my hair and taking it like some sick trophy. And me crying on the foor with grazed knees and the sky falling down on me.

At Zodiac Academy, twins Darcy and Tory have just realized they are princesses to fairy-land and that they’re super powerful. But fairy-land is supposed to be inherited by four hot fairy boys conveniently only a little older than the twins. Okay, so far so good.

But then the boys, threatened by the twins, start bullying the two girls. Mercilessly. I’ve never liked bullying plotlines in books, especially ones wherein the bullies are given clemency and forgiveness without much real remorse for their actions. But this goes beyond. The twins are violated, touched inappropriately, bitten when they are clearly, distressingly un-consenting. And the heirs are utterly unapologetic, except for the smallest twinges of guilt at the end. They groom these two girls who know nothing about their world in order to a) torment them and b) get into their pants.

The professors are no better. The professors also bite the girls whenever they want. And the book frames these sorts of things—vampires biting people because they can, werewolves getting all up in the girls’ personal space because that’s part of their culture—as mere…cultural differences. Results of some kind of twisted survival of the fittest (in an organized culture peopled by presumably sentient adults).

What’s worse, the girls are written with a completely juvenile, horny tone. Every time they act with any of their tormentors, all they see is big muscles and brooding inner turmoil.

Brooding inner turmoil and big muscles do not excuse stripping someone naked in public, biting them when they beg you not to, or general assault. Hot boys exist that don’t do that stuff and then assume with “total confidence” that they can have you any way they like (that’s page 260, fyi). I could spend pages on the toxicity of these men in just this book, and the reasons why they are irredeemable in my eyes—more so than most of your favorite dark YA fantasy villains, to be honest. There are right ways and wrong ways to write assholes, and these assholes are just…assholes. Plus they keep calling the twins babe and I’m sorry but you sound like an absurd caricature of a California surfer bro.


While I can conceive of a concept where astrological signs have significance in a fantasy setting, this book is not that. The frequent use of star signs seems even more ridiculous because it is mostly irrelevant to the story as a whole. Every time someone says things like “And I’m a Taurus; when we set our minds on something it’s not easy to turn us from it,” I cringe.

Other huge cringes included: FaeBook, the line “We replenish our power by flying through the clouds,” and a professor named Professor Pyro.


Something must have happened to the supply of commas in this book, because there are about half as many as there should be. Over the course of hundreds and hundreds of books, as a reader I’ve learned where commas are absolutely necessary unless the prose is completely expieramental and unique—which this isn’t. For example:

“Whoops didn’t see you there, Vega.”

If you say this out loud, without a pause between whoops and didn’t, the whole things sounds awkward, stiff, and rushed. Here’s another;

“Our world is all about power so it means I’m kinda destined to stay at the bottom of the food chain but I don’t really mind.”

It’s a run-on sentence with no breaks or indication that the speaker breathed at all. But there’s no indication this character was just…spewing in that way. One more:

“Yep. And I have a damn good memory too which should help me ace the tests and make up for my lack of power somewhat.”

This writing doesn’t just sound young. For any writers out there: would you actually say this? Without any pauses in that sentence? A better way to write it might be:

“And I have a damn good memory, too—which should help me ace the tests and somewhat make up for my lack of power.”

These are the least of my gripes; I caught a couple *gasp* comma splices, plus, as I said, the tone did not match the events or the characters at all.

I don’t have a redeeming conclusion to this, er, long A** rant, but I’m interested in others’ opinions about the series and why it is so charming…leave a comment!

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9 thoughts on “Book Review | Zodiac Academy

  1. I’m only 120 pages in and I have to stop. This book is horrible. The characters are underdeveloped with nary a redeeming quality (or more than one personality “trait” if you could even call it that), the “bullying” is extremely disturbing and it is overall a freaking mess. Horrible horrible horrible


  2. Zodiac – I agree. The series needs a LOT of editing. I was intrigued by the storyline, but – WAY too much time spent on graphic sex scenes that weren’t needed. The 2 companion series are essentially soft porn.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s very clearly not for younger YA readers. The sex, violence, language and themes are not intended for young audiences, and frankly I’m baffled as to why you think that would be appropriate, and what made you think that. It’s an adult book and series, set in a wild where the zodiac is more that something you find in the back of magazines, and like most works of fiction it requires you to suspend your disbelief. You wouldn’t read Harry Potter and complain that it was “cringe” because wizards aren’t real or Ravenclaws are clever; fiction requires you to sink into the space of possibilities.


  4. It definitely says 18 + on the description of the book on Amazon. Love these books but redemption for most of the boys starts around book 5/6. It also gives better perspective if you read the boys version of the awakening with it. They are awful but at least one of them is severely abused at home.


    1. Truly tired of people excusing men who abuse simply because they were abused. As an abuse survivor and an advocate, it sickens me. Men don’t abuse because they were abused. In fact, nationwide studies have shown boys who were abused as children are less likely to abuse when they grow up. But its the ones who WITNESSED abuse from a parent or authority figure and were taught to abuse who grow up later to abuse. Abuse is about dominance and control.It’s not a result of trauma.

      If this were the case, there would be a heck of a lot more abusive women out there since girls are abused at a higher rate than boys. But this is not the case.


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