The eagerly anticipated sequel to the highly acclaimed Vita Nostra takes readers to the next stage in Sasha Samokhina’s journey in a richly imagined world of dark academia in which grammar is magic—and not all magic is good.

In Vita Nostra, Sasha Samokhina, a third-year student at the Institute of Special Technologies, was in the middle of taking the final exam that would transform her into a part of the Great Speech. After defying her teachers’ expectations, Sasha emerges from the exam as Password, a unique and powerful part of speech. Accomplished and ready to embrace her new role, she soon learns her powers threaten the old world, and despite her hard work, Sasha is set to fail.

However, Farit Kozhennikov, Sasha’s dark mentor, finds a way to bring her out of the oblivion and back to the Institute for his own selfish purposes. Subsequently, Sasha must correct her mistakes before she is allowed to graduate and is forced to do what few are asked and even less achieve: to succeed and reverberate—becoming a part of the Great Speech and being one of the special few who dictate reality. If she fails, she faces a fate far worse than death: the choice is hers. 

Years have passed around the Institute—and the numerous realities that have spread from Sasha’s first failure—but it is only her fourth year of learning what role she will play in shaping the world. Her teachers despise and fear her, her classmates distrust her, and a growing love—for a young pilot with no affiliation to the school—is fraught because a relationship means leverage, and Farit won’t hesitate to use it against her.

Planes crash all the time. Which means Sasha needs to rewrite the world so that can’t happen...or fail for good.

About the author(s)

Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, a former actress and a former psychiatrist, are co-authors of over thirty novels and numerous short stories and screenplays. They were born in Ukraine, lived in Russia, and eventually settled in California. Their books have been translated into several foreign languages and awarded multiple literary and film prizes. Marina and Sergey are recipients of the Award for Best Authors (Eurocon 2005) and of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Rosetta Awards (2021).

Julia Meitov Hersey originally began her translation of Vita Nostra because she wanted her family to share her love for this striking example of urban psychological science fiction and fantasy genre with its literary allusions and ominous atmosphere. Born in Moscow, Julia moved to the U.S. at the age of nineteen and has been straddling the two cultures ever since. Julia is the winner of the 2021 Science Fiction and Fantasy Rosetta Awards for best translated work (long form). Currently, she is working on translating other Dyachenko novels into English.


"A tense, gripping, and satisfying story that will leave readers wondering about their own physical limits and what would be possible, if only one had the proper motivation. Translated from the original Russian, this dark and unforgiving magical world treats its characters in ways that make Harry Potter and even Naomi Novik's Scholomance Trilogy look like preschool." — Booklist (starred review)

"This is a novel that transcends genre and will astound readers looking for serious, contemporary fiction." — Library Journal (starred review)

Vita Nostra—a cross between Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian [...] is the anti-Harry Potter you didn’t know you wanted.”  — Washington Post

"Vita Nostra is singular and brilliant - unlike anything I’ve ever read." — R.F. Kuang, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Babel

Vita Nostra has become a powerful influence on my own writing. It’s a book that has the potential to become a modern classic of its genre, and I couldn’t be more excited to see it get the global audience in English it so richly deserves.”  — Lev Grossman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians

Vita Nostra takes the trope of young people selected for a school for magic and transforms it into an unnerving, deeply philosophical coming-of-age tale. [...] Hersey’s translation is plain and straightforward, a wise choice that enhances the deep strangeness of this trippy, vivid novel.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This dark, ambitious, and intellectually strenuous novel will feel like a fresh revelation to fantasy readers glutted with Western wish-fulfillment narratives.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Vita Nostra

“Imagine that Hogwarts has opened a satellite campus inside Harry Haller’s Magic Theater from Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, and assigned Kafka, Dostoevsky and Rod Serling to oversee the curriculum.” — BookPage on Vita Nostra