Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Synopsis: A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.
At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules … (Goodreads)
A Deadly Education, the first book in Naomi Novik’s The Scholomance series, was one of my favorite books of last year. If you missed my review here’s the link: https://cadburypom.wordpress.com/2020/08/13/a-deadly-education-scholomance-1-by-naomi-novik-5-stars/
As you can see I loved everything about it and I’m thrilled to say that The Last Graduate is just as good. Picking up exactly where the previous book left off, El is frustrated by the puzzling warning her mother had snuck into her with an incoming freshman. But good news, (or not), she doesn’t have much time to spend on this because El and her friends are now seniors which means they have less than a year to figure out how to make it out of the school alive on graduation day.
All the characters from the first book return, plus there are some new ones. And their backstories are fleshed out more, so you wind up invested in what happens to more than just El, Orion, and their small circle of friends. The school, which is sentient, also has more of its history revealed, and it really becomes a character in its own right. But the biggest character development concerns El and Orion. El’s powers grow exponentially here and you can understand why so many fear what she could become. And with Orion you discover more about his somewhat disturbing hero complex. The romance between the two of the, progresses, but not until the latter half of the book. I didn’t mind this however as with all the action unfolding there’s not much time for deep meaningful relationship building. When they do finally take the next step, it’s quite passionate albeit quick.
The world building is also kicked up a notch with much more of the outside world and the politics of the enclaves being revealed. Initially while you’re reading this you might question why you need to be given all this information, when after all, the setting is the school. All I’ll say is that I think these outside factors will figure predominantly in the third and final book, so I advise readers to pay attention even if you’re tempted to skim over the geopolitical passages. Despite the plethora of information and details, the story literally flies by, until the ending, which word of warning, is a shocking cliffhanger which will leave you swearing and if you’re like me, screaming “Nooooooo!”
I cannot recommend this series highly enough! If you haven’t read A Deadly Education yet, you definitely need to do so before diving into The Last Graduate as the book provides no recap. For those who haven’t but are looking for a great magic school series with some bite, you should definitely check this out!