by Naomi Novik
Publication: September 27, 2022
Series: The Scholomance #3
**Fair warning, there may be spoilers for books 1 and 2. **
The final book in The Scholomance trilogy was one of my most anticipated reads this year. The cliffhanger at the end of The Last Graduate left me grappling with what the consequences might be for El and the world. I grabbed a copy as soon as I could, but now I almost wish I hadn’t. I should have dwelled longer in my agony because with the highs also came the lows. I was decidedly more disappointed with the book than I should have been. Unfortunately, I could not help feeling this way.
As soon as I began to read, I quickly remembered a complaint I had about the books: the extensive explanations of just about everything. This happened nearly immediately, and I sometimes got lost in some of the exposition. At times, I had to reread passages because I forgot what was happening. As it got closer to the end, this happened less frequently and there was more action.
Some moments made me teary-eyed because El’s grief was overwhelming. I sympathized with her after awaiting the outcome for a year. Her actions in trying to evade or temporarily quash her pain were understandable, but only up to a point. I was not happy with some of her decisions. Ultimately, it affected how I viewed El and Orion’s relationship, which had been one of the highlights of the trilogy. I couldn’t enjoy the book as much as I wanted after her actions. The emotional gratification I expected never arrived.
In many ways the conclusion was satisfying. El continued trying to subvert the prophecy that dictated her life choices. Some of the predictions I had from the beginning were realized, and those were rewarding moments. There were also unexpected turns of events that reminded me why I enjoyed the trilogy. Unfortunately, my content with much of the plot was drowned out by my final, more disgruntled feelings about El and Orion’s relationship.
The Scholomance is still a worthwhile read. Novik crafted a trilogy that put a different spin on magical academies. The emphasis on the difficulties of collective action even made this an educational read at times. I would still recommend the trilogy, but maybe not as wholeheartedly as I used to. Then again, who knows? Maybe I will reread it and like it better the second time around…maybe.