Simon Snow may be the worst chosen one who has ever been chosen. Yes, his magic is incredibly powerful, but it is also totally out of his control.
Simon is entering his eighth and final year in the Watford School of Magick. Not only does he have his studies to worry about, but the threat presented by his arch enemy The Insidious Humdrum is greater than ever, his relationship with his girlfriend Agatha is on the rocks, and his roommate Baz (who he suspects is a vampire) is gone AWOL. What’s a mage to do?
I loved Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, so I was delighted to hear that she would be releasing a book about Simon Snow. In Fangirl, the protagonist Cath writes very popular fanfiction about Simon and Baz. While I would highly recommend reading Fangirl (it was one of my favourite books of 2014) it is not necessary to have read it before Carry On.
It took me a while to get into Carry On at first, perhaps because of the multiple narrators. However, once I settled into it I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I felt the multiple POVs gave insights into supporting characters that we don’t often get in fantasy novels like this. Carry On is a loving, tongue-in-cheek parody of popular fantasy tropes, and there are noticeable parallels with Harry Potter. Baz was a fantastic character, and Rowell really shows how conflicted he is with his identity as a mage and a vampire, and with his attraction to Simon. What I loved most of all about Carry On is how clever it is. The magic is all based on words, with the mages using popular sayings, lyrics, nursery rhymes etc. to cast spells. It is a lot of fun to read, and I imagine Rowell had a lot of fun writing it.
I would highly recommend both Fangirl and Carry On for Potterheads, and I know that fans of Rainbow Rowell will enjoy the same strong dialogue and heart-warming romance that is found in her contemporary YA and adult novels.