Series: School for Psychics #1
on April 3, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
K.C. Archer’s School for Psychics is the first novel in a new urban fantasy series of the same name. I was initially drawn to this book because I have a thing for books that are set in boarding schools for young people with special abilities or skills and when I read the synopsis for this book, I immediately got vibes of the Harry Potter series and Nevernight. Those are two of my favorites so the idea of a similar book but that focuses on training psychics instead of wizards or assassins had me totally on board.
School for Psychics follows twenty-something Teddy Cannon, a bright and resourceful young woman who has an uncanny ability to read people. Even though Teddy is smart, however, she has apparently made some questionable decisions in her life and is currently living in her parents’ garage in a make-shift apartment. When the story opens, we learn that Teddy has also been banned from nearly every casino in the Las Vegas area. She has been using her ability to read people to win money in the casinos and also gotten into some trouble with some unsavory individuals that she now owes a lot of money to. We meet Teddy as she is dressed incognito trying to sneak into a casino with money she has “borrowed” from her parents in hopes of turning it into major winnings so that she can pay back her gambling debt. Teddy’s plan goes awry, however, and she tries unsuccessfully to make a fast getaway. A stranger intervenes and gets her out of trouble, only to then tell her that he has been watching her. He informs her that she can read people the way she can because she is actually psychic. He then invites her to come to the School of Psychics where she can train with others like her in areas such as telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. Upon graduation, she would go on to serve the U.S. government, using her skills to protect America, and the world.
Teddy is of course skeptical but ultimately agrees to come to the school. In her mind, she has been a screw up for most of her life and would love to finally be able to do something to make her adoptive parents proud of her. At first the school is pretty much what Teddy expected it to be. She slowly begins to settle in, get used to her classes, and for the first time, actually make real friends. But then strange things start happening – there are break-ins, students go missing, and more. It leads Teddy to become part of a dangerous mission, one that will ultimately cause her to question everything she thought she knew – her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.
Teddy was definitely a big draw for me. I liked her character from the first moment I met her, trying to scam her way into that casino. She was the ultimate underdog so I immediately found myself in her corner. She’s also one of those complicated, messy characters that I so adore. I saw that right away when she demonstrated street smarts and tremendous confidence with just a hint of guilt about what she had done to her parents. I liked how conflicted she was and wanted to not only learn more about her, but I also wanted her to succeed, not only in the short term when it came to getting herself out of trouble but also in her desire to finally do something to make her parents proud.
She’s also a very realistic character in the sense that she is in no way perfect and tends to make questionable choices quite often. One that immediately comes to mind happens almost as soon as she arrives at the school. She shows up late to one portion of her entrance exam because she got drunk and hooked up with a guy. I just sat there like “Whhhyyyyyyy? How are you supposed to turn things around and make your parents proud if you get kicked out before you even start?!” She frustrated me to no end with decisions like that, but it made her character growth as I moved through the story that much more satisfying. She’s still not perfect by any stretch by the end, but she has come so far.
On a slightly different note, I also found her psychic abilities quite fascinating. All of her classmates had interesting abilities as well, but Teddy’s abilities were quite rare and apparently were inherited from her birth parents who died in a car accident when she was very young. Her rare abilities make her of particular interest to those in change.
The setting also really appealed to me, both the Las Vegas setting where Teddy starts out and then the island off the California coast where the school is set. I was especially intrigued by that since at one point, it’s mentioned that some students can see Alcatraz prison from their windows. I just thought that was cool.
Finally, I liked the mystery that comes into play by about the halfway point of the book. It moves the story to a whole new level by having it be about more than just this group of young people attending classes and honing their skills. I don’t want to go into any details about what the mystery is about, other than to say it basically turns Teddy’s entire life and everything she has ever thought she knew about herself and her birth parents upside down and it also opens the door for this series to take an exciting and possibly darker turn as we have to consider what the government could be using people with Teddy’s abilities for. Is it all solely for the common good?
While I did end up enjoying School for Psychics overall, I do have to admit that my reaction to the early chapters was mixed. The opening scene with Teddy running her scam in the casino hooked me immediately but then surprisingly enough, once Teddy got to the school, I found myself less interested and actually more confused than anything else. Why? Mainly because Teddy and her new classmates are supposed to be young adults, with Teddy in particular being in her twenties, but most of them seem so immature. Teddy confused me the most in this respect because while she was running her scam at the casino, she came across as very street smart and worldly, but then as soon as she stepped onto the campus of the school for psychics, it’s like her personality changed and she became obsessed with every cute guy she came across. It was a little off-putting how immature she suddenly seemed and I thought about giving up on the book at that point, but thankfully Teddy quickly settled in and began to focus more on her classes and less on the guys.
One other issue I had, which was also early on in the book was what I considered to be a case of flawed logic. It made no sense to me why this school would recruit students, have them pack up all their belongings and fly to California, only to tell them once they arrive on campus that they have to pass a series of tests in order to determine whether or not they would be a good fit at the school. In Teddy’s case, she is recruited and told that if she gives them four years of her life, they’ll settle her gambling debts and make sure her parents are safe from the guys who were threatening Teddy when the novel opens. Why make a promise like that to her but then have her take these tests to see if she can stay at the school? Again, I was glad I persevered since I ended up enjoying the rest of the story, but for a few chapters there, it had me wondering what I was getting myself into.
Even though I got off to a slightly rocky start with School of Psychics, the story definitely got stronger and stronger as it went along. I think it’s a solid first book for this new series and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for Teddy and her classmates in the next installment. I’d recommend School of Psychics for anyone like me who enjoys books set in boarding schools, as well as for anyone who enjoys urban fantasy and/or mysteries and has any interest in psychic abilities.
An entrancing new series starring a funny, impulsive, and sometimes self-congratulatory young woman who discovers she has psychic abilities—and then must decide whether she will use her skills for good or…not.
Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. She’s resourceful. She’s bright. She’s scrappy. She can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.
When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.
In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.
Set in a world very much like our own, School for Psychics is the first book in a stay-up-all night series.