cover image Wayward Son (Simon Snow #2)

Wayward Son (Simon Snow #2)

Rainbow Rowell. Wednesday, $19.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-14607-6

After the triumphant conclusion of Carry On, hero Simon Snow had earned some reward, or at least a little happiness. Instead, as this sequel opens, readers learn that Simon has sunk into a deep post-heroics funk. Roommates and fellow magicians Penny and Baz (well, mostly Penny) decide that Simon needs a radical change. A hastily and haphazardly arranged trip takes them from England to Chicago, where they rent a classic Mustang to head west%E2%80%94Penny presciently senses that former classmate Agatha has found trouble in California. Trouble, in fact, abounds, and the magicians face off against a variety of foes, including Ren Faire-visiting vampires and a shotgun-wielding polecat, while finding that their idiom-based magic works differently in America. Rowell's dry wit is on full display as the first-person narrative moves between the characters, and plentiful awkward relationships%E2%80%94including the fraught romance between Simon and Baz%E2%80%94add tension. Though this second volume lacks the first's tighter plotline, it's a big-hearted look at early adulthood, exploration, and self-renewal that will certainly draw fans. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (Sept.)