The Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1) by Olivie Blake
Published by Tor Books
Publication date: March 1, 2022
Genres: Debut, Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense
All authors recreate worlds with their fiction, but fantasy writers build new worlds from within their own mind. But what about the feat of taking the real world and generating a world that exists right alongside it? That’s what Olivie Blake does in her debut novel, The Atlas Six, a mesmeric story with the world of magic co-existing alongside we boring mortals (but not in Harry Potter-like way). This, plus the lure of the existence of the Great Library of Alexandria, pulled me into the book like one of the bratty children running into Willy Wonka’s factory.
The library existed, but was destroyed millennia ago. Or so we’ve been told. But what if a secret society managed to save all of its contents even as the physical structure burned? And housed it in a building in another plane, unknown to most and watched over by zealous guardians? This is the Alexandrian Society, one of the world’s most secret and powerful organizations. Every decade six new initiates are chosen to live in the library’s world for a year, learning and being tested. At the end of the year, five will be chosen to join, thereby giving them power beyond anything they have experienced.
Libby, Nico, Parisa, Reina, Tristan, and Callum are the candidates in The Atlas Six. Each has their own unique gift, ranging from mind control to physics (the ability to change the natural world) and each comes from a vastly different ethnic and socioeconomic background. Once they’ve accepted the nomination, they move into the library’s space and cut off contact with everyone they know for one year.
Let the games begin. I’m a big believer in knowledge as power. That and the library setting piqued my interest although I am not a huge fantasy reader. Blake carefully sets the table and then dishes up a hearty meal of mind games, intrigue, and deception. It works because although each of the characters is supremely skilled in certain areas they may be lacking in others. Plus, they’re all new adults and while they may be supremely confident about their gifts they are still prey to human faults and fallibility.
Now for the caveat. I really liked The Atlas Six. It’s a part one of a two-part series so there is a sequel and much is left unfinished in the book. More importantly, it was self-published and was only picked up by a traditional publisher after going viral on TikTok. Or BookTok as they say, but Instagram is the final frontier of my social media endeavors so I have no idea what this means. What it meant to me as a reader, is that despite some editing there are still scruffy edges in the novel—repetitive personal descriptions, adverb abuse, and irregular pacing.
These are things that could have been smoothed by a strong editor without taking away any of the novel’s magic (pun absolutely intended). It’s also possible that the novel is for a younger audience. I’ve seen it marketed as both young adult and adult so my fussiness and ignorance of BookTok could be a generational disconnect. Regardless, I tore through The Atlas Six even when irritated and am rabidly awaiting the sequel. If fantasy is your jam I’d recommend this for fast, spellbinding reading.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Tor Books in exchange for an honest review.*