How would you empower yourself against bullies?

The Zodiac Academy ~ Book I The Awakening ~ An Academy Bully Romance

A wonderful cover which conveys the twins, and their dark adventures.

Authors Carline Peckham and Susana Valenti wisely made it clear that this series of books, about bullies at a high-school academy, is not for the faint of heart. Although it is fan fiction based (loosely) upon JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, here there are no friends, and no teachers to protect you. Horrifyingly cruel behavior that frequently crosses over the line into torture is ignored, and the culprits (from powerful families) are not punished.Instead, their disgraceful behavior is ignored by the faculty.

Until…Tory nearly dies.

How the novel opens

But I am getting ahead of myself. At the beginning of the story we are introduced to the 18-year-old Vega twins, born onto the scrapheap of Chicago, orphaned, thrown into the foster care system, accepted and then dumped by one family after another.

We are thrown into this novel (too abruptly IMHO) witnessing Tory stealing a gorgeous motorbike, and having to run and hide, until she is stopped by the mysterious O’Ryan/Orion.

Tory Vega, mesmerizing, tart, foulmouthed, the bravest person I know. Created by Faby on Instagram, uploaded by kaceytheo on Pinterest.
Darcy Vega, loyal, kind, smart, with unexpected toughness. Created by Faby on Instagram, uploaded by kaceytheo on Pinterest.

Together, with her twin sister Darcy, she agrees to be kidnapped…to a distant land.

Once there, these two young women find themselves in a Land of Plenty. No more chilly nights. No more garbage food. No more worrying about homelessness. They are housed on a beautiful campus with palaces for dorms, plenty of delicious food and even more wonderful beds with soft sheets, and downy comforters and pillows.

What more could they possibly want?

Turns out that Tory and Darcy are the long-lost daughters of the Savage King and as such they shall both succeed to the Throne…unless someone stops them. There are several such someones, staring with the “four heirs” four male students at the academy who come from powerful families.

The Four Heirs

As this is a book pitched to teens, the authors spare no detail in describing how fabulously good looking and alarmingly sexy these young men are. Needless to say they are none too pleased to have their claims to the throne thwarted by two young women. And thus the bullying and torture begins in an effort to force them to go home.

Caleb Altair, one of the Four Celestial Heirs. Manipulative, extremely possessive, charming, a bully. Has a thing for Tory. Created by jemlin_c on Instagram, uploaded by kaceytheo on Pinterest.
Darius Acrux, another member of the Four Celestial Heirs. Brooding, serious, a bully, unexpectedly caring. Also has a thing for Tory. Created by jemlin_c on Instagram, uploaded by kaceytheo on Pinterest.

But they haven’t reckoned on the spirit that Darcy and particularly Tory have. These four extremely privileged men have no idea of what it is like to live on the edge of disaster. Their families are rich, respected, powerful. They’ve never had to spend their time digging through garbage looking for food. Or sleeping on the sidewalk in the company of rats. And so ~ in a typical male way ~ they dismiss Darcy and Tory, until it finally dawns on them that these young women have unexpected streaks of determination and grit.

Lance Orion, a professor at the Zodiac Academy. Has dangerous feelings for Darcy Vega. Can be a bully. Created by Beth Gilbert on Instagram, uploaded by kaceytheo on Pinterest.

Flummoxed, the four heirs stage an incident which proves to be nearly fatal. And just as we are beginning to see punishment meted out (for the first time in this novel), it ends…on a cliffhanger.

My Takeaway

This kind of fiction is not usually my thing, and I was very put off by the beginning which was, way too abrupt. But I grew to love Tory. She is one of the bravest people I know and I loved the way in which she refused to cow to her abusers. Five stars. 

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