The Last Hope School for Magical Delinquents

The Last Hope School for Magical Delinquents
Age Range
Release Date
October 01, 2024
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Lavinia “Vin” Lucas is out of control and out of options. Stranded by parents who would rather use their average magical abilities to study dung beetles than raise her, Vin's been on her own for years. But she’s never been able to corral her own powerful, unpredictable magic. After years of detention, suspension, and expulsion from magic schools far and wide, she’s now being sent to the Last Hope School for Magical Delinquents. If she gets expelled, it’s the end of the line.

Now, Vin is determined to behave. Except no one at Last Hope seems to want her to. Her new teachers—particularly the school’s kind headmistress—push her to explore her magic, and her mischievous classmates delight in every accident. And all the while, a mysterious fire sprite, a suspicious instructor, and her overwhelming abilities might just sabotage Vin. But for the first time, she is not alone.

So when a former student begins attacking the school, Vin must question just how much she knows about the headmistress and her new home. Is this place worth saving? And are her budding abilities—and every trick, trap, and deception in her friends’ delinquent arsenal—enough to protect Last Hope?

Editor review

1 review
Never give up
Overall rating
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What worked:
Vin doesn’t want to cause trouble but her emotions build up until she loses control of her magic. The rules at Last Hope School are very different from what she’s used to as Vin’s first observations find students wielding their magic in mischievous ways. The headmistress isn’t terribly upset by the behavior so Vin doesn’t know how she’ll ever learn to control her magic in this environment. Vin holds back when practicing her magic because she always fears it will explode and destroy everything or hurt someone. And then expelled. As with many middle-grade novels, Vin possesses a rare form of magic that can make her a formidable sorcerer.
Three other students immediately become Vin’s friends although she’s never had close relationships before. Even her parents have no interest in her. The students are very patient and understanding as Vin struggles to adapt to the new school. They all appreciate that there’s something unusual about Vin’s powers and there’s no explanation as to how she has a fire sprite hidden in her closet. Readers will wonder if the sprite will have a bigger role in the story besides grumbling and becoming more agitated about its captivity. The school has a self-centered bully (his power is based on charisma) who has targeted Vin for teasing. It’s amusing to read about Vin finally getting even with him and possibly giving him an attitude adjustment.
The narrative presents different aptitudes and attitudes toward magic and these different sides create an underlying conflict. The biggest disparity is between magic and non-magic folks but their differences are mostly addressed by a treaty. The magical school board supports strong rules and guidelines for sorcerers with uncontrollable students kicked out and discarded. The headmistress at Last Hope won’t give up on any child which is why she’s reluctant to allow any school board members inside the school’s walls. The Free Mages are made up of rogue sorcerers who don’t want any restraints or limitations on their magic. Many of them are angry outcasts and one of them is a former student at Last Hope with a grudge to settle.
What didn’t work as well:
The plot follows Vin’s struggles to discover her abilities and to feel accepted but it takes over half the book for the larger conflict to come to the forefront. Also, the mysterious former student is easily identified even though Vin has no suspicions until the plot nears its climax. However, the author saves room for a few surprises including one that will affect the book’s sequel.
The final verdict:
While the school seems similar to other middle-grade books, Last Hope has a very different feel to it. Every student is unique and school activities are unpredictable due to their unpredictable abilities. Vin’s pursuit to master her magic leads to an exciting adventure within the school. Overall, I highly recommend you give this book a shot!
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