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Review: Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell

In 2013, Rainbow Rowell released the book Fangirl, a book about a college student who writes fanfiction about her favorite characters – Simon Snow and Tyrannus Basilton “Baz” Grimm-Pitch – in her favorite book series. From there, Rowell must have seen the desire her fans had of reading the character’s fanfictions to be able to come up with the idea of writing them herself and releasing them as a three-part series. The title of the first book, Carry On, was picked straight out of its book of origination, Fangirl, and with its success after its release in 2015, she subsequently released Wayward Son in 2019. Now, in 2021, Rowell released the final installment to the series, which is titled Any Way the Wind Blows.

Simon Snow and his companions in Carry On learned that everything they thought they knew about the universe was incorrect. In Wayward Son, they found out that what they thought they knew about themselves was incorrect.

Simon and Baz, as well as their friends Penelope and Agatha, determine how to proceed in life in Any Way the Wind Blows. For Simon, this means determining whether or not he still wants to be a member of the World of Mages — and, if he doesn’t, he must figure out what the decision would mean for his relationship with Baz. Meanwhile, Baz juggles two family issues and can’t find time to tell anybody about his vampire expertise. Penelope would gladly assist, but she’s already managed to sneak an American Normal – a mortal American – into London and isn’t sure what to do with him. And Agatha Wellbelove had had enough of it all.

In comparison to its predecessor, Wayward Son, Any Way the Wind Blows is a dense novel standing at about 600 pages, and for a valid cause; it’s the kind of book that can knock someone out if they’re hit upside the head by it. The book is a satisfactory completion with plenty of explanations, tying up loose ends with gratifying conclusions.

When I finished reading Any Way the Wind Blows, the first thing that sprang to me was how emotionally empty I felt, not because of the lack of something, but because it was really and truly over. Rowell spent years working up to the conclusion of her series and seeing it all unfold feels like a piece of my life is gone.

We meet Simon Snow, the most powerful magician of his time, in Carry On. Simon is the ‘Chosen One,’ a young man chosen to protect the World of Mages from the most heinous dangers. Simon is an orphan who is brought to Watford, England’s School of Magic, and raised as the protégé of the Mage, the school’s headmaster who wields control over all aspects of the magical world. Through a series of tribulations, Simon and Baz find each other and attempt to save their world from evil. However, the Mage had been the bad guy all along, leading Simon to have to kill him, effectively ending the story. Having read this book first, it was essentially like reading a gay version of Harry Potter and I couldn’t get enough of it.

In Wayward Son, Simon and company travel on a road journey across, encountering obstacles, perils, and excitement while also allowing Simon time to reflect on how upended his life has become. There isn’t much time for reflection because the story is so fast-paced. And not to mention the relationship trouble Simon and Baz find themselves in. The angst was real in this book.

Without spoiling too much of this third and final installment to the Simon and Baz series, Any Which Way the Wind Blows gives us all of the lovely, great, gentle, tragic, tear-jerking, amazing Simon and Baz moments we’ve all been waiting for. After everything Simon and Baz have led us through, they both feel nicely defined. They haven’t forgotten about their relationship’s beginnings, but its aggressive and unsure edges have finally melted into something comfortable and lovely. Instead of raised wands and fists, snarky remarks are accented with kisses and confidence. Unlike Wayward Son, which was primarily a cross-country journey in which sentiments were forced to take a second seat, Any Way the Wind Blows puts emotions front and center.

It’s time for them to face their futures now that they’re back in England. For Simon, he’s finally romantically connected with Baz, his former adversary and terrible roommate at Watford, only to discover that underneath their mutual disdain and hate lay a smoldering passion and depth of sentiments. Penelope, Simon’s best friend, is ready to resume her role as the smartest magician in town, and she’ll have to put all of her magical skills to the test, as well as challenge magical society’s prejudices against non-magical people.

Overall, it’s a fantastic story with characters that can both make me joyful and hurt my heart. Come for the magic wands, stay for the love fest between Simon and Baz, and Agatha, too. Penelope and her Normal, too. I wholeheartedly suggest the Simon Snow trilogy. It isn’t what it appears to be, but it is cool anyway.

You can purchase Any Way the Wind Blows wherever books are sold.

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