At the prestigious and historic St Aidan the Great School, Greer MacDonald, scholarship student feels like an outsider. She spends her first term being ignored by everyone, including Jesus – Greer’s roommate not the deity, although it could be argued he ignores her too.

St Aidan’s might be run by The Abbot and the Friars, but its the Medieval’s who are really in charge. The school prefects, a group of upper sixth students, Henry de Walencourt, Cookson, Piers, Esme, Charlotte, and Lara. The ones who set the trends and standards the rest of the student body aspire to, even forging technology as “Savage”.

As the term ends Greer gets an invitation to spend the holiday weekend at Longcross Hall, for “huntin’, shootin’, fishin'” with The Medieval’s. At her roommates nudging, Greer accepts, she;s finally being accepted at S.T.A.G.S and by the most influential group in school.

After having her case vetted by Esme and a torturously long and quiet drive with Perfect, the head groundsman, Greer arrives at Longcross to find she isn’t the only guest. The other invitees are Chanel – a new money tech heiress, and Shafeen – a boy with all the advantages and upbringing of The Medieval’s but has never been accepted by them due to his heritage.

Greer is convinced that this is when her time at S.T.A.G.S will turn around.

Day 1, huntin’. A morning of explaining how the hunt works, of selecting a stag and setting the stage. Lunch is a luxurious affair before the final act of killing and the ritual that come along with it are complete. Greer notices that Chanel has been separated from the group. As they look for her, Greer is reminded of the hunt, right down to locating Chanel by the sound of the baying hounds.

But that was an accident. And Chanel is only scared because she was already terrified of the dogs.

Day 2, shootin’. Greer and Chanel opt to sit out the mornings shoot and head out to meet the shooting party for lunch. It seems the only shooter to rival Henry is Shafeen and after lunch the competition intensifies. Right up until Shafeen is shot.

Two accidents can’t be anything more than a coincidence, can it?

Huntin’. Shooting’. Only fishin’ is left.

The mornings fishing goes well, with Greer landing her first catch. What happens after lunch will change all their lives, and expose an old Order to the Savage world.

Greer transforms from the lonely underprivileged student to a girl who thinks she could be one of the chosen, to someone willing to fight for her survival and that of her friends and take down an insane hunting party of untouchable aristocrats. Chanel becomes Nel, her own person and not the coached model of the people she tried to fit in with. Shafeen opens up, allowing some behind the walls that were built to protect him from the systemic racism that he has faced his whole life, along with the perfectly paced story made it hard to put down.

I loved S.T.A.G.S and am re reading the series before the release of book 5, H.A.W.K.S

M. A. Bennett can be found on twitter and Instagram. Books 1-4 of the S.T.A.G.S series are already available from Hot Key Books, H.A.W.K.S is to be released July 7th 2022

Leave a Reply