Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy—Reviewing "Celestial Academy: Essence"

Published 31 May 2024
by Anca Antoci

Title: Celestial Academy: Essence
Author: Olivia Pharos
Released: 15.12.2022
Buy from Amazon
3.99 (read)
Our review:
3.50 (read)

I just finished “Celestial Academy: Essence” by Olivia Pharos, and I have to tell you all about it. This book is a wild ride through a post-apocalyptic world filled with angels, demons, and all sorts of magical beings. I requested this ARC from NetGalley because it promised “A sexy, gritty Mortal Instruments meets Fourth Wing. Think a military Hogwarts for angels and demons.” How could I resist? So, if you’re into fantasy with a dash of humor and a lot of action, this one might be right up your alley.

What I Liked

So, the story revolves around Wen, this sarcastic and relatable girl who gets thrown into Afterworld that has Hell and Heaven on Earth and ends up partnered with Godric, a powerful nephilim. The banter between Wen and Godric is absolutely my favorite part of the book. They constantly pull on each other’s nerves, and it’s hilarious. Wen’s quick wit and Godric’s brooding nature create such a fun dynamic that you’ll find yourself looking forward to every interaction between them.

Olivia Pharos has done an amazing job with the world-building too. The setting is a vivid post-apocalyptic world where angels and demons reign supreme, and it’s so detailed that you can almost see it. The perspective of the book is from Wen’s point of view, and her commentary is consistently hilarious. You’ll love how she gets through this crazy new world with her snarky attitude.

What Didn’t Resonate with Me

That said, there were times when Wen’s confrontational nature felt a bit over the top. Especially when she first meets her roommates at the academy, she comes off a bit too abrasive. Also, her internal monologues can be a bit lengthy, making it hard to distinguish between her thoughts and actual dialogue at times. But overall, these are minor issues in an otherwise gripping story.

Tropes and Themes

Here are some of the themes and tropes you’ll find in “Celestial Academy: Essence”:

- Enemies to Lovers: The slow-burn tension between Wen and Godric is filled with deliciously frustrating moments.

- Forced Proximity: They’re often thrown together, which makes their interactions even more intense.

- Trials/Contest: The academy students have to go through several trials, and these are written so intricately that you’ll be on the edge of your seat.

- Secret Ability: Wen’s journey of self-discovery is full of surprises.

- Angels and Demons: The classic conflict with a fresh twist.

- Dark Secrets and Elite Academy: The mysterious setting of the academy adds a lot of intrigue.

- Humans vs. ‘Others’: The societal hierarchy and conflicts add depth to the story.

- Found Family: Wen’s bond with her best friend Sarah and others will warm your heart.


“Celestial Academy: Essence” is a great start to Olivia Pharos’s Afterworld series. The rich world-building, engaging characters, and perfect blend of humor and tension make this book a must-read. Plus, the epilogue from Godric’s perspective will leave you waiting for the next book. If you love witty banter, high-stakes action, and a bit of slow burn romance set in a world of angels and demons, you’ve got to check this one out!

Our final verdict: