Review of The Last Graduate, by Naomi Novik

The Last Graduate

Lesson Two of The Scholomance

by Naomi Novik

Del Rey (Penguin Random House), 2021. 388 pages.
Review written November 16, 2021, from my own copy, purchased via
Starred Review

The Last Graduate is the sequel to A Deadly Education, and it looks like this will be a series with more to come — there sure better be more to come! (Both books ended with a dramatic surprise.) You definitely need to read the books in order, and I will try not to give away anything that happens in the first book from my description of the second.

This series is about a school for wizard children — but it upends everything you expect in such a novel. This school, the Scholomance, is out to kill the students. Or at least it seems so. But our viewpoint character, Galadriel, known as El to her friends, turns out to be an underestimated powerful wizard with a prophecy about her and who is only able to learn spells about death and devastation. Against her intentions, she has made friends with Orion Lake, whose favorite thing is killing the maleficaria (malicious monsters) that seek out the school and try to kill the students.

Since El and Orion are seniors in this book, my past experience with stories of wizard schools made me expect the series would end with this book. But I assure you, the story is far from over, though the next volume may not have a school setting.

Normally, every year the seniors make alliances in preparation for the day when they will be sent to the Graduation Hall — and only some of them will make it through alive.

This year, many expectations were upended because of what El and Orion did at the end of the first book. And the Scholomance has ways of making El take on a new mission.

Who knew that an original wizarding school story can still be told? The world-building in this series is amazing and imaginative. I’m not completely sure why it’s marketed to adults and not young adults, except that all the author’s other books are for adults. Teens can certainly handle the death and destruction found here.

And now I very much have to find out what comes next.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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