November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

Tash has just arrived at an all-girls boarding school in the English countryside. It’s the second week of the term and the teenager, whose father is a Russian oligarch, learns that if she wants to fit in, she’ll have to look the part. That means staying thin—and doing so at any cost. Everything about the school is rooted in something unsettling, whether it’s the way the students are obsessed with losing weight or the strange story of Princess Augusta, a long-dead noblewoman who drowned in a nearby lake and is said to be haunting the dorms. When a friend (and one of the very skinniest, at that) mysteriously disappears, Tash must grapple with her everyday routine. Though it’s a dark tale, it’s one that author Scarlett Thomas infuses with plenty of humor, especially as Tash makes biting observations about growing up in the age of Instagram.

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