Published by HarperTeen on September 6th 2016
Format: Kindle Book
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.
I picked up As I Descended as one of my reads for the #DiverseAThon readathon that happened a few weeks ago, and I’m extremely glad I did. It’s a paranormal retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth set in a Southern boarding school, and the four POV characters all fall somewhere on the LGBTQIAPD+ spectrum. Macbeth is my favorite Shakespeare play, and I thought the retelling was done in such a clever way! There are lots of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them references to the source material thrown in, and I was LIVING for it. I wasn’t sure how loose of a retelling this book would be, but it stuck to the plot of Macbeth almost exactly. That being said, you definitely don’t have to have read Macbeth to enjoy this book.
The thing that struck me most about As I Descended was how creepy it was. I don’t scare easily– in fact, I have a bizarre love of horror films and thrillers– but the ghosts in this book honestly gave me trouble sleeping some nights. Especially having grown up in the rural, formerly-plantation South (I know, ew), this book made me think long and hard about all the bad energy that probably surrounded me throughout my adolescence. And I don’t even believe in ghosts! The setting was so well-done, and so atmospheric. I also loved seeing the deterioration of the characters’ sanity and mental states as they bargained with the ghosts and become increasingly more power-hungry.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about characters. I loved the diversity in the main characters– not only are all of them queer, but additionally, one is disabled, two are Latinx, and one is overweight. I understood all of their motivations, but I didn’t really connect with any of them on a deeper level (which is okay! #charactersdonthavetobelikeable2016). However, I definitely wasn’t sold on the romance between Maria and Lily; I felt that it was never fully developed. Since I didn’t fully understand their background, I couldn’t fully support the choices they made to try to protect their relationship. I loved Mateo, though, and Lily definitely grew on me towards the end of the book.
All in all, though I enjoyed the experience of reading As I Descended, I did have some problems with the pacing, especially the abrupt, rushed ending. However, it was such an atmospheric, creepy read. I think it would be the perfect fall/October read!
Have you read As I Descended? If so, what are your thoughts?