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Book Review: Mayhem and magic abound in the Scholomance series

A fantasy escape for the cold winter days with The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik

Situated in a world that is equal parts stressful and fascinating, the Scholomance is a school for magical children. However, this is not your average childhood school of magic, nor is it a school I would ever want to attend…but it does make for an absolutely brilliant gem of a novel that you won’t want to put down.

Galadriel, or “El” to her friends – of which there are few – is a student of the Scholomance, a legendary magic school that keeps its students safe from the mals (monsters) who lurk outside its doors. Except that’s not what really happens there at all. Instead, the mals seep through the school’s protections, and the students are faced with constant threats of death and dismemberment. Strategic alliances must be formed to make it to graduation, and at this point, dark sorceress-to-be El knows who she will be leaving the school with – if she leaves at all. But in this second novel, it becomes clear that the school itself has expectations of El, and she is going to have to change everything to make it out alive.

One feature that makes this series so unique is the writing style, and just how clear and engaging El’s narrative voice is. She has such a sharp wit to her, and the way her mind works is simultaneously maddening and delightful. I am not sure if I took a breath during the last pages of this novel as everything culminated in a scene so stressful, so masterfully written, that I couldn’t spare a second to even glance away from the pages. The combination of this unreliable narrator, the vicious school, the brilliance of the writing, and the unpredictability of the plot makes this a perfect storm of a series, the ideal fantasy escape for the cold winter days ahead.

Jessica Boorsma is a Community Services Librarian at the Brighouse branch of the Richmond Public Library. For more great reads, visit the library website at