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Kids Fiction 1944
A fantastic conclusion to a fantastic series.
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I have adored this series from the very first book. The world is lush and detailed with classic fairy tale characters who pop up unexpectedly and add an extra layer of whimsy. It is also a world that can be dark and scary and where there are real consequences (ie. characters dying) that you don't often find in middle grade novels. I really just want more of this series and would probably do unspeakable things in order to get a spin off featuring Hester, Anadil, and Dot.

In The Last Ever After, Sophie, Agatha, and Tedros must find a way to win their Happily Ever After and close their storybook for good. While Agatha and Tedros try to find a way to be happy with one another, Sophie struggles to decide between fighting for Tedros, the boy who may never love her, and Rafel, the evil school master who claims that he always will. Ultimately though, it is a story of two friends. Sophie and Agatha must choose a world where they each find love, or a world where they find each other.

The one detriment to this series, in my eyes, has been Tedros. At the beginning of this novel he continues to be spoiled and insufferable. However, there is a great deal of growth for him in these pages and, by the end, he is at least tolerable. Sophie and Agatha continue to be wonderful, complex, and well-rounded characters. Each is equal in this fairy tale, with their own desires and insecurities. We also get to meet a plethora of classic fairy tale characters in this book, both heros and villains. I won't say WHO because Spoilers, but I loved seeing how their lives ended up after their Happily Ever After and the role that they still played in this world.

I loved seeing the school under the Rafel's control. In each book it has taken a physical transformation as the management has changed and this is the darkest theme yet. With the School for New and the School for Old we see Evers and Nevers learning evil side by side, or suffering the consequences. I did miss some of the humor of the previous books that came from seeing the students interacting in the schools and in classes but I was quite glad to see the coven at work again - though, as I said, it will just never be enough for my taste!

There is no shortage of excitement in The Last Ever After. We have some terrifying villains, some great twists and turns and there was not any point where I really felt I knew how this plot was going to turn out. We finally get answers to the great mysteries of this series and the threads hiding just below the surface that tie past and present together and teach our characters more about themselves than they ever expected. This allows for some fantastic character development and lends to the theme of Old and New that runs through this final book.

The ending is satisfying and heartwarming, despite the very real loss that occurs in this book. It is one of those conclusions that leaves the reader thinking about those characters and where life might take them, long after the book has been closed. Thank you Soman Chainani for such a rich and wonderful series. Now, what's next?!

Bottom Line: A fantastic conclusion to a fantastic series.
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