Spoiler warning! This is book 3 in a trilogy, which wraps up a number of very important threads left dangling after the previous book. So after the brief plot summary, there WILL be spoilers in the review. If you are new to the wonderful world of Simon Snow (and Baz, and Penny and Agatha), the place to start is Carry On.
This book starts pretty much immediately after our fearsome foursome (and Shepard)’s return from America to England. Simon, still in emotional turmoil after losing his magic and feeling like a burden to his friends, is given unexpected and very surprising news by Agatha’s father, Doctor Wellbelove. He decides he wants to have his big dragon wings and tail surgically removed, and move out of his and Penelope’s shared flat. He’s done with the world of magic, which sadly also means being done with the love of his life, Baz.
Penelope would be devastated that her best friend is moving out and demanding his own space, but she’s also distracted by her promise to help their new friend, non-magical Shepard, break free of his curse. However, when she tries to ask her mother for help, Professor Bunce (now headmaster of Watford) is appalled that Penny not only would reveal magical secrets to a “normal”, but that she’s brought him home to her family. Professor Bunce tries to wipe Shepard’s memory (something he’s thankfully immune to) and Penny is forced to realise that for once, it’s up to her alone to solve the challenge, without help from either Simon or Baz.
Baz has to bail his aunt Fiona out of prison for having broken in at Watford and returns to his family in Oxford to find that his stepmother has left and his father is at his wit’s end. His aunt Fiona claims that Daphne (his stepmother) has started following one of the NEW Chosen Ones, which piques Baz’ curiosity. Of course, he’s sidetracked from investigating when he returns to London to discover a note from Simon saying “he’s sorry”. After everything Baz and Simon have survived together, a break-up is not something Baz is going to accept without a fight.
Agatha’s parents are glad to have her back from America, but as she hasn’t actually told them anything of what happened to her there, they don’t allow her a lot of time to wallow, giving her a job in her father’s doctor’s office instead. Rather intimidated by her father’s intern, Agatha can’t really say no when the forceful young woman insists she come along to Watford to care for the goats, who are scattered all over since Ebb Petty’s tragic death over a year ago. Agatha is surprised to learn that apparently, the goats are essential to Watford’s magical survival and while she was terrified of going back to the school where she experienced so many unpleasant things, taking care of goats is something she’s good at.
Full review on my blog.