cover image The Last Graduate

The Last Graduate

Naomi Novik. Del Rey, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-12886-2

Picking up immediately after A Deadly Education, Novak offers an engrossing continuation of her dark fantasy series set at the deadly Scholomance boarding school. Galadriel “El” Higgins, a prophesied future dark sorceress and current high school senior, worries she has a target on her back after she and Orion Lake helped wipe out most of the monstrous maleficaria, or “mals,” that prowl the school and prey on students. Then she learns that the school itself has a driving, supernatural need to protect as many magical children as it can, however it can—and it thinks this year’s senior class will be the ones to fix the endemic problems with its system, forcing loner El to work together with her classmates. The propulsive plot and high stakes make for gripping reading, but readers hooked on the enemies-to-lovers dynamic established in book one will be frustrated that Orion has so little to do here and so few scenes with El. An extremely abrupt cliffhanger comes on the last page, which will have readers chomping at the bit for the next installment but leave many frustrated, especially as it threatens to undercut the book’s themes of breaking damaging cycles and finding a solution to systemic inequality in collective action. Readers will hope for answers in the finale. [em](Sept.) [/em]