The polished veneer of a boys’ boarding school in Northern England masks a cadre of wickedness. Seniors viciously torment any junior they deem unfit. Jonathan Simon, in his first term at Blackleigh School in 1955, is warned: 1) There are three monsters in his dorm: seniors Flicker, Sleeth, and Tunk; and 2) A code of conduct mandates no snitching.
Simon befriends two other juniors; pixie-faced Ian Gracey; and witty, grossly overweight Arthur Crown. Juniors are required to clean seniors’ studies and Crown panics when he’s assigned to Flicker, who was under suspicion by the police a year earlier after a junior fell from the church bell tower in the off-limits cemetery. During a cross-country run, the three friends take a shortcut and stumble into the cadet rifle range. Corps Sergeant Sleeth puts them through a degrading punishment using human excrement. The three juniors swear a blood oath never to allow another bully to abuse them.
Will this oath be their downfall, or will they make it through the school year? Snitching could have serious consequences, but keeping silent will break their blood oath. As Simon, Gracey and Crown try to survive this perilous journey, the constant threat of harm brings their friendship ever closer...
Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. Michael says, "My novel takes the reader on a journey through the lives of three dynamic school boys between the ages of 13 and 15, and the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies that they experience." This book is the first in a series. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools, and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.
Fanny van Hemelen (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
At a prestigious boarding school in Northern England three boys Ian, Jonathan and Arthur are victims. As juniors, they have to undergo cruel rituals by a group of seniors.
One day the most horrible thing happens and Ian, Jonathan and Arthur decide to take avenge, no matter what…
This was a sinister glimpse of a place for the best with bad situations but the atmosphere and tragedy were well-detailed. Reputation was everything here and to maintain your status everything was OK. The characters are well described in this suspense book and I was moved by their actions after the oath.
I had to close this book sometimes while reading because I was bullied at school and even those things are worse it brings back sad memories.
Maybe, after reading this book, even it is fiction, one person understands how cruel bullying is and never does that himself and that’s all that matters.
Sometimes Leelynn Reads (Blog) (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
Sometimes you need a book that has some grit, tension, and thrills in between all the fluffy and happy books out there. This is definitely one of them, and I would just say be prepared to read some stuff you aren’t ready for and try to enjoy the ride.
Jessica Belmont (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
The Oath is a dark, gripping read that I was really excited about as soon as I read the blurb. This story takes you into a world of an all-boys school in the 1950s. Dark, raw and powerful, and a book boy young adults and adults can learn something from.
The boys we focus on are under an immense amount of stress as they are viciously tormented by bullies. An all too real issue that was difficult to read about. I find stories of bullying tragic, and this one, in particular, was difficult because you grow to care about these boys.
This is a book deserving of 5 stars. It is a tale that is difficult to put down, disturbing, with raw characters and a lesson that many people need to hear. I highly recommend checking this one out!
Little Miss Reader (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
This is the first book I have read from this author and is book one in a planned series. The Oath, by Michael L Lewis, is a bit similar to a Harry Potter story.
It takes an in-depth look at bullying, good for young adults to read, good for parents to use as an intro to talking about bullying with their kids. There is a suspenseful storyline; you get drawn into the lives of the boys at the boarding school. Highly recommended as a good read, and for being informative about the issue of bullying.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s a wonderful YA story about what it was like to be a young boy in an English boarding school in the 50s – filled with bullying, racism, and the trials of being a young person – all set against the backdrop of Harry Potter-like houses competing against each other. The story is both witty and horrifying with memorable characters who take an oath to get revenge on their bullies, it’s a funny and suspenseful story. Michael L. Lewis also has an incredible penchant for writing dialogue and is a gifted storyteller!
Amy-Lee (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
The first thing that grabbed me was the cover, eerie yet eye-catching!
Any school can be cruel but this one sounds brutal!! The story grabbed me as I was thrown into the boys school life and the story took on a darker side. The characters took on a life of their own in my mind and I was eager to know more. The darker side of the story had me welling up at times.
Definitely a read I would recommend to my friends.
Mai's Musings (Blog) (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
Watching how the characters develop as they deal with life at Blackleigh and the constant threat of punishment for the slightest wrongdoing was fascinating, not just from the perspective of the boys undergoing the treatment, but also from those dishing it out. The ripples from one particularly harrowing event changed one or two of the boys in ways that I never imagined were possible, whilst others proved that they were just as evil as I had suspected.
Although this is not a book for the faint-hearted, it is certainly one that will stay with me for some time and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend.
Made Up Book Reviews (Blog) (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
I think this is a story that would appeal to many, as it takes a subject (bullying) that is a constant concern of society, and yet one which many seem to avoid discussing. For those who have been bullied, and let’s face it that’s a massive portion of the populace at some point in their life, it shows, in sometimes uncomfortably honest detail, the various effects which such things might have.
Topics covered include a huge range including topics such as Loss and Grief, homosexuality, Sex… essentially the book considers a vast range of issues that students may face in their teen years, how they might cope with them, and how others may treat them in response.
The story follows a chronological storyline, although it is divided by school terms. I personally found that this made the story potentially more realistic and relatable for Teens, and the book would make a good read for older Teens. The way the darker themes are handled, how the Characters overcome them and the lighter aspects as each individual finds their way, all made this a book which could in some ways be a comfort, and in others reassurance.
An interesting read from start to end, this is certainly an author I will be looking for in the future!
Donna's Book Blog (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
I thought that this was a really well-written story that kept me on the edge of my seat.
I read the book over a couple of nights and I loved the twists and turns that the author added to the plot and I found myself becoming addicted by the storyline, he really brought what it would have been like back in the 1950s to life. This period was quite a bit before my time but he made it feel realistic and that really helped my enjoyment.
I thought that the pace for the book was good and I liked the different elements that he added into the mix. I thought that the author had clearly done a fair bit of planning to execute the book so well too. I liked that the book contained plenty of detail on the different characters too so you got to get an around feel for them.
I found the author’s writing style to fit really well with the book and I think it helped add to the intrigue of it all.
Rea Reads (Blog) (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
I thought the genius of this book lies in the understanding of the ins and outs of boarding school. It’s a really intense book with a range of characters that were difficult to keep track of at times but kept your attention from the first page to the last.
Nicki's Life of Crime (Blog) (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
At times this is a very uncomfortable story to read because the bullying is constantly cruel and sadistic. The author’s portrayals of the boy’s fear were terrifyingly realistic. The tension builds as all the players are skilfully maneuvered into position for the final inevitable confrontation. It is a brutal, intense, believable emotionally charged story that plays with the reader’s emotions and has you rooting for the young heroes and dreading any interactions with the bullies.
Mixing Reality with Fiction (Blog) (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
The Oath can be a bit of a hard read, especially around its subject matters, which I felt are most relevant to today’s society, especially to those of school age.
This is a book that centres around a group of boys who are subjected to slavery and bullying. Bullying is where I meant it is relevant to today’s society and at times, I had to remind myself I was reading a book. It just felt vivid, like it came to life before my eyes.
This is a book I wouldn’t normally have picked up but I’m glad I did because I go a lot from it. I stepped outside my comfort zone and would urge others to do the same. It really is a recommended read.
Ashley G (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
So for those of us not raised in the traditional British upper-class (therefore, uh, most of us) the idea of an all-male boarding school is caged in secrecy and brings up images of raucous boy behavior and hazing – and The Oath is like all of those nightmares brought to life in a suspenseful drama that makes readers wonder if they could survive the onslaught.
There’s three main characters who are “juniors” at a prestigious school in Northern England – Arthur, Ian and Jonathan. They soon find themselves the targets of a group of sadistic seniors, who put them through a series of torturous rituals. After one particularly gruesome event, the boys vow to avenge themselves, no matter what.
This particular school will give you chills as soon as you follow Jonathan and the others onto the train. It’s clear that they are at the bottom of the food chain and that those at the top are quite disturbed. I totally was cringing as they settled into the school and learned how things work. I was definitely sure I would have run for my life.
I found that I liked the trio and was really rooting for them. Especially after the episode that required them to make “the oath.” I was anxious to see if things were going to work out or if they would become victims of the school’s environment.
I have mixed emotions about the ending. I don’t want to say too much but I wish things had worked out a little more….judiciously. It seemed some people didn’t nessecarily get what they should have, so to speak.
But overall, this book was filled with suspense and really opened up a world that is pretty foreign to most of us. I enjoyed it very much and would read more from this author, definitely.
Cheryl M-M's Book Blog (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
Boarding schools are very much part of the educational path of the upper class and the wealthy. It’s the norm to send off children, especially boys, to learning institutes. I think tradition, peer pressure and shoving the responsibility from nanny to boarding school has become so ingrained in certain social groups and countries that considering an alternative doesn’t even factor into their decision.
Leaving aside how academically successful a boarding school can be, the emotional damage caused by separation, bullying and the often predator like proclivity of sexual activity in these institutes is probably immeasurable.
Lewis plots the story around all of these negative aspects of being shipped off to school. His characters mirror both sides of the coin. The bullies who rule the roost and the damaged victims they leave in their wake.
The lines are drawn in the sand soon after the new school year starts when the youngest newbies become targets for the older bullies. The younger boys are determined not to let them get away with their usual crimes. The small groups become entwined in a dangerous war of revenge and a fight for survival.
It’s a contemporary thriller, a fast-paced and uncomfortable read at times. It fits into the YA and adult genre. The writing leans more towards simplicity and only skims the first layers in terms of depth. Saying that the style lends itself to a bigger audience in terms of both younger and older readers.
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Guest Review) - 11 Apr, 2021
The Oath is such an Exciting, Dark and Thrilling Read, once I started reading I was hooked.
I really liked how Lewis built up the dark and sinister atmosphere of Blackleigh School. The emotional and panicked journey to the school, who to steer clear from, the Ethos and Ethics clearly marked out showing hierarchy between students with brutal initiations, violence, bullying and abuse. All added to the richly atmospheric plot.
The Oath is a thrilling, character-driven, page turner about friendships, secrets and survival. It will get under your skin as you prey the boys survive the school year. The characters are superbly written and believable, not all likable by any means but that’s what makes the book so great.
I’m not really sure where this book fits into in terms of genre as there is a little bit of everything… Thriller, YA Fiction, Drama.
So if you’re looking for a gritty, dark, pacy, enthralling read that will keep you on your toes, then you need to pick up a copy of The Oath!