Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

The Last Graduate is the second book in the Scholomance series, so this review may contain spoilers for the previous book, A Deadly Education.

El has made it to her final year of the Scholomance, not only with an alliance in place but also friends, something she would never have imagined when she entered the deadly school. Yet the school seems even more intent on putting her in danger this year, and her mother went out the way to get a message to her: stay away from Orion Lake.

The Last Graduate was just wonderful, and surprisingly full of warm and fuzzy feelings considering it’s about a magic school that wants to kill of a good chunk of its students. However, there is more to the Scholomance than you might first have thought.

When mals start behaving unexpectedly, that’s bad. Even if the unexpected behaviour is that they’re not leaping out to kill you anymore. That usually just means they’re waiting to leap out and kill you at a much more opportune moment.

El has grown so much since the first book, where she was just trying to survive in a world where she thought she had no one to turn to. She ends up scheduled in a classroom with a bunch of first years once a week and mals keep attacking it…and she just can’t stand by and see them die, even if it would makes life a lot easier.

Slowly El makes more and more friends, and students start to see her as more than just Orion’s girlfriend. Not that she is Orion’s girlfriend. And the hero is having trouble finding enough mals to kill, because El is badass and protecting everyone in the school. Turns out the New York enclave really needs Orion to do all that heroing.

The miracle I still couldn’t quite believe in: I wasn’t alone anymore. They were saving me, and I was going to save them. It felt more like magic than magic.

There’s a lot in the first half about El trying to plan her school year and come up with a way to get through the graduation hall safely. Their gym is transformed into an obstacle course to prepare them, getting more and more difficult every time. And slowly several Big Things are revealed, and the pace builds and OMG, the end… Naomi Novik is going to make you suffer waiting for book three!

Since El had the potential to be a big bad witch at the start of the series, it’s been so lovely seeing her grow, form healthy relationships, and start looking out for others. Plus, her mouse familiar is awesome.

The first book took some time to warm to just because there was so much new information being thrown at me, but now I know what the mals are and how mana works, I was sucked straight in and I liked this even more than A Deadly Education.

Mum always told me that you couldn’t know what people would do in a crisis, but I’d always thought she just meant you should forgive people for behaving like weasels under bad circumstances, not that a stale biscuit like Khamis might suddenly come over all heroic in a tight corner.

The Last Graduate is published by Del Rey and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 28th September. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Goodreads | Amazon* | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery | Blackwell’s* | Bookshop.org*

*indicates an affiliate link