Spoiler warning! This is the second book in a series, and this review will contain spoilers for the first book, Carry On. If you haven’t already read it, you should do yourself a favour and do so.
Simon Snow was the Chosen One, destined to bring an end to the threat to all magic. Of course, it turned out that he himself was in fact the thing that was threatening the magic in the first place, and his mentor/father figure (and actual biological father, although none of the characters in the story ever found out that part, only the readers did), the Mage, died in the process. As did Ebb, one of Simon’s only true friends. Saving the world also meant Simon losing all his previously unlimited reserves of magic, so now he’s just a normal human, albeit one with big red wings and a devil’s tail. Dealing with the aftermath of saving the world is not going well for Simon. He spends most of his days on the couch, drinking cider and not really engaging with his boyfriend Baz or Penelope, his best friend and flatmate. He’s not entirely sure why they bother with him anymore, considering how powerless and useless he is right now.
Basilton “Baz” Pitch spent most of his time growing up loving his roommate Simon in secret, hiding the fact that he was a vampire and mentally preparing to probably have to face Simon in some cataclysmic battle. Instead, he and Simon became boyfriends and he helped Simon stop the Mage. Unfortunately, Simon no longer seems to want to talk to Baz, or even be touched by him. He’s clearly pulling away and in serious need of help in some way, but Baz really doesn’t have the faintest idea how to help.
Penelope Bunce was so relieved when she, Simon and Baz managed to save the world without any major casualties (except poor Ebb, of course, and the Mage, but he was the villain, so he probably deserved to die). She couldn’t really face going back to Watford for her final semester, but nevertheless graduated with top marks, and is really enjoying her time at University. It’s a terrible shame that Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend and Penelope’s sort-of friend, abandoned her wand and swore off magic and moved all the way to California, where she now pretty much refuses to answer Penny’s calls or texts. Penelope also can’t help but observe how miserable both Simon and Baz are, and desperate measures are clearly required to snap everyone out of their funk. She breaks multiple laws of magic to secure them tickets to the USA, and even magically forges a passport for Simon.
Agatha Wellbelove did indeed travel about as far away from Britain and her former life as she was able. Now she’s enjoying her time as a college student in San Diego and trying to forget all the times she was kidnapped and/or threatened as a result of being Simon’s girlfriend. She wishes Penelope would just take the hint and just leave her alone. Agatha’s managing fine without magic, and has human friends now, like Ginger. It’s not even like Agatha will be home when Penelope and the others are planning to visit, she’s going with Ginger to some exclusive corporate retreat in the desert, along with Ginger’s tech mogul boyfriend Josh. There will be yoga, and vegan cupcakes and all manner of chances of ‘levelling up’. Agatha is doing just fine, she doesn’t need any ties to her old life.
Full review (it’s long, turns out I had a lot to say about this one) can be found here.