cover image Carry On

Carry On

Rainbow Rowell. St. Martin's Griffin, $19.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-250-04955-1

Rowell's many fans know that the characters in this novel derive from her 2013 book, Fangirl, where they appeared in two forms: the "official" version of a Harry Potterlike series and the funnier, funkier, and gayer fanfic written by Cath, Fangirl's heroine. Now Simon Snow, the greatest magician the world has ever seen; possible vampire Basilton "Baz" Pitch, Simon's roommate and nemesis; and Simon's intrepid and loyal best friend Penelope have their own book. Along with Simon's semi-ex girlfriend Agatha, the three are negotiating their last year at the Watford School of Magicks amid a crisis in the magical world, much of which seems to involve Simon. Although in no way fan fiction (apart from its connections to Fangirl), this book can be read as a tribute to Harry Potter and Lev Grossman's Magicians series, and it's a sterling example of how to use genre conventions to create something new. Seen in that light, it hardly matters that some of the plot twists feel more like confirmations than surprises. Everything else%E2%80%94the funny, wised-up dialogue, the tumultuous, sweet, and sexy love story%E2%80%94 is grade-A Rowell, and if you've ever wondered what makes a spell a spell, this book explains all. The doubled suspense%E2%80%94Will Simon and Baz finally admit that seven years of mutual obsession might be more than antagonism? Will Simon, Baz, and Penny figure out what's threatening their world in time to save it?%E2%80%94makes for a book that readers will find almost impossible to put down. Ages 13%E2%80%93up. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Oct.)