All of Us Villains: The Best Book Series You’ve Never Heard Of

Nicole Lemire, Co-Editor-in-Chief

*This review of All of Us Villains contains spoilers!*


In a lot of ways, my taste in books can be considered very basic. I get a lot of my recommendations either from friends or from Book Tok – a side of Tik Tok devoted entirely to reviewing and recommending various books. So usually the books I read tend to be pretty trendy and popular. 


However, one series that I recently read does not fit into this category, as it is a series that I never hear anyone talk about, and I personally think that it deserves a lot more attention. The series is a duology called All of Us Villains, composed of the original novel of the same name, and its sequel, All of Our Demise.


These novels were recommended to me by a friend who thoroughly enjoyed them but had realized that the series, despite being very well-written, hadn’t gained much momentum or attention online. She asked me to read it simply so that she would have someone to talk to about it. Normally, I am not a huge fantasy reader, but I decided to give it a shot, and I am so glad that I did. 


All of Us Villains is a fantasy duology written by Amanda Foody, which takes place in a world where magick exists, although high magick – the most powerful form of magick, and which supposedly no longer exists – is kept secret from the world and is only available in the town of Ilvernath. Every generation, seven families from Ilvernath choose a champion to compete in a tournament to the death, with the winning family taking control of the high magick for the next generation. 


This tournament has been occurring secretly for hundreds of years, however, prior to the events of the first novel, an anonymous book is published which reveals the truth about this tournament to the world. Therefore, all of the champions are thrust into the spotlight and the government gets involved with the tournament, wanting to secure access to the high magick for themselves. 


Both novels alternate between the perspectives of four of the seven champions: Alistair Lowe, Isobel Macaslan, Gavin Grieve, and Briony Thorburn. All of these characters have individual issues that they face before and during the tournament, with various alliances and romances occurring between the characters. Originally I was a bit skeptical since the characters are high school aged, and I usually prefer to read about older characters, but I was surprised by the complexity of each character’s storylines and the maturity of their perspectives. 


*Spoilers Ahead*


A major plot point for the series is that the champions are attempting to end the tournament once and for all, a plan led by Briony. There is a lot of conflict between the characters regarding how to go about this and whether or not it is even a good idea. If there is no champion of the tournament within three months, all remaining champions will die. Therefore, the suspense is kept very high as the characters have to work quickly to find a way to break the spell that enforces the rules of the tournament, or else they will all die.


All of the main characters could be considered anti-heroes, being forced to make difficult choices, inflict violence on others, and do what they need to do to survive. Some examples of this include, but are not limited to, Isobel betraying Alistair and putting a spell on him called “The Kiss of Death,” Gavin and Alistair torturing Reid for information, Briony cutting her sister’s finger off so that she could join the tournament instead, and Alistair murdering his family members to avenge the death of his brother. Although out of context, these actions sound unforgivable, in the story the characters have reasonings behind their choices, and nothing is seen as being purely black and white. These characters are not shown as being either good or evil, they are all both villains and heroes of the story. 


The tournament element of this story reminds me a lot of The Hunger Games, although I think that the magical system and depiction of the history of the seven families helps to set it apart and keep it from feeling like a rip-off. To me, the way that magick is portrayed in the story feels very realistic to how our society would actually treat it, with it becoming a mundane part of their daily lives rather than something that is exciting. People take common magick for granted, with there being spells to complete simplest tasks, including covering blemishes and fixing your hair. I also enjoyed the portrayal of the media’s role, as the tournament becomes highly televised and the champions essentially become celebrities against their will. 


So, if you are looking for a new series to read, I would definitely recommend the All of Us Villains duology, because I think that it has something for everyone: magick, violence, romance, betrayal, coming of age, and much more.