BOOK TITLE: The Last Ever After
(A School for Good and Evil #3)
AUTHOR: Soman Chainani
I must confess that the idea of reading fairy tales again, after all these years since childhood, was quite appealing. That’s why when a friend of mine enthusiastically recommended this series I said yes without thinking twice. And now here I am, finishing the last book. The last ever after. I was quite sad after it (don’t get me wrong, not because it wasn’t up to the expectations, but because it was so awesome that I didn’t want it to end) and wished for more, as we all do after a good book. And as with all good books and reviews, I must warn you, spoilers lay ahead!
“But sometimes to keep Evil from getting in, you have to let Good out.”
The book picks up right where the second left off. Agatha and Tedros are in Gavaldon, in the reader world, teleported there after Sophie and the School Master had their first kiss. Unfortunately for our main characters their love story doesn’t seem to work out according to plan. They constantly fight as Tedros is unhappy with his life in Gavaldon while Agatha’s mother is trying to provide for both of them and defend them. They are shortly forced to leave the city because the Elders put a bounty on Agatha’s head, claiming that she is a witch. With the help of Agatha’s mother and that of Stefan (Sophie’s father) they manage to find their way to the fairytale world (through the tomb of Sophie’s mother, which apparently is empty – ooh, a mystery!).
Meanwhile, Sophie finds that her new-found lover’s name is Rafal and that he transformed into a teenage boy (and a stunning one if we are to believe the description); but their love isn’t quite what it seems. Nevertheless, she finally accepts his ring which binds them together. So, she finds, that The School for Good and Evil is now The School for New and Old; both castles teach only villains. Sophie surprisingly becomes one of the teachers at The School for New and she is unable for the moment to move across the two castles.
Agatha and Tedros, together with some new found help, one of them being the famous Merlin, plan to rescue Sophie from the Schoolmaster’s claws and convince her that he is evil and must be destroyed. They manage to work according to plan, but their effort is in vain. No matter how hard they try, Sophie cannot focus on anything else except her own happiness and so proves over and over again that she truly belongs to Evil.
“Dear girl, it will be a very long road if you spend more time looking backwards than forward.”
Tedros and Agatha are reunited, and this time for good (or at least so it seems), and even if in the end there seems to be no hope and things don’t always turn out as Good as we expect them, all the characters eventually meet their fate and prove what they are made for in this epic conclusion of an exquisite series.
I must begin by praising the characters of this book and the way they were developed. Even from the beginning of the series I took a liking in Agatha (who, as you can probably guess, was my favourite character), I was uncertain how I felt about Tedros and I sometimes liked, sometimes despised Sophie. I think it is wonderful that this book is not only about romantic love but also about friendship and how a deep relationship with a person, without implying romance, can actually be your happy ending and everything you need in order to be happy at some point in your life. In this book the characters followed the same pattern as in the previous two, but they also evolved; Tedros and Agatha were finally able to uncover what their love actually meant and how it was something different for both of them and accept that. Sophie was able to accept that she belonged to Evil and be at peace with this (that was at least my perception in the end). Even the Schoolmaster became a palpable character, in the body of a teenage boy, he was actually bearable until his final purpose was discovered. Merlin is another new and intriguing character (which I will let you discover on your own) playing the good old sorcerer and actually having quite a lot of power and strength up his sleeve.
Somehow every piece of the puzzle fitted perfectly. All the loose ends you might have found in the other books or in the beginning of this one were resolved and I appreciated that immensely (so refreshing to get to the end of the book, close it and just imagine how it would continue without noticing that you are missing crucial piece of information!).
I also liked how the author “twisted” all the fairy tales and how in this last book he brought the villains into focus and they all got a second chance. Even if the purpose of all this was evil it was an interesting process to read about.
As an overview I would like to highlight again how nice and simple (yet complex) the characters were; the tension was nicely built, revealing nothing until the last moment. The ending wasn’t at all predictable to me, always carrying with it the element of surprise and the continuous question of “what’s going to happen next”. This book teaches us that there is no Good without Evil and at the same time Evil cannot survive without Good; these two notions go hand in hand not only in fairy tales but also in real life.
I would recommend this book to all of you, mostly because it is an easy, pleasant read and you will soon find yourself entrapped in it; even if it is marked as a children’s book I believe it has a deeper meaning and it learns you a little bit about all kinds of love and of friendship which is, I think, a very precious lesson to all of us.
“To find a happy ending with someone else, first you have to find it alone.”
P.S. I know that usually the first book of the series should also be the first one to be reviewed, but I was so excited that I couldn’t wait! I promise though that the other installments will soon be discussed over here. Have fun with this one in the meantime!