REVIEW: ‘The Golden Enclaves’ by Naomi Novik provides a wonderful conclusion

 

I devoured this final tale of El Higgins as she saves that which she hates from a fate worse than death.

My experience of the Scholomance series has been generally positive and definitely improving with each new book. The Golden Enclaves is a worthy conclusion to this fun trilogy which I will definitely be rereading.

From the Blurb:

The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out — not even the richest enclaver would tempt fate that way.

But that impossible dream has somehow come true for El and her classmates. What’s more, she didn’t even have to become the monstrous dark witch she’s been prophesied to become to make it happen. Instead of killing enclavers, she saved them, and now the world is safe for all wizards. Peace and harmony have enveloped all the enclaves of the world.

Just kidding.

Instead, someone else has picked up the project of destroying enclaves in El’s stead, and everyone she saved is at risk again with a full-scale enclave war on the horizon. And so, the first thing El needs to do after miraculously escaping the Scholomance is to turn straight around and find a way back in.

The Golden Enclaves begins right where The Last Graduate ended, as El is thrown out of the graduation hall by none other than Orion Lake, arch-nemesis turned…something more. Her grief at losing him to the Scholomance and the horrific maw-mouth that is Patience is all-consuming. It permeates the pages and really tugs on your heartstrings as you witness her torment. The depth of emotions conveyed through the novel amazing, and is a major highlight of the book.

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Before she can fall too far into her grief though, El is spirited away to London, where a gigantic maw-mouth is trying to break into London enclave. Cue El’s perilous journey around the world, saving the thing she hates most from the one fate she cannot bear to let anyone suffer.

The cast of characters is familiar in The Golden Enclaves, with Liesel making a large appearance and of course returns from Aad and Liu. It was wonderful seeing all these characters again and being able to witness them (try to) live life outside of the Scholomance. However, the mysterious enclave attacks and the maw-mouth sightings mean that the world of wizards is in more danger than they were inside the school.

El wrestles with her distaste for enclaves and enclavers as she continues to save them and build them new, stronger foundations. Once again, she is full of funny, witty quips and sarcastic comments that make me love her. The writing style is honestly one of my favourite things about this trilogy; it makes for a fascinating protagonist and brilliant sense of humour that makes you unable to stop turning the pages.

There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked as well. Novik does an excellent job of setting up gasp-inducing plot points and gives enough away for you to work out the twist for yourself, before revealing it with her signature dramatic flair. I spent the book desperately trying to figure out the inner workings of the world that El was navigating and reading in horror as I discovered I was right.

The prophecy of El becoming an evil, dark witch has hung over her head since the very beginning of A Deadly Education. Her determination not to fulfil it is a major driving factor behind every decision she makes. It is an interesting plot point that allows for a fair bit of exploration on both good and bad characters — this whole trilogy has given me something I didn’t know I needed in terms of blending the villain and the hero into one rage-fuelled character.

The Golden Enclaves was another unputdownable read that I devoured. The Scholomance trilogy has slowly gotten better with each new book; I am thrilled with how Novik chose to end the series. It is natural to wish for more of El, but with the trilogy coming to an end I will have to comfort myself with frequent rereads instead.

A Golden Conclusion

4.3
Plot
Characters
Writing
Theme/Message

Plot: familiarly fast-paced with plenty of twists and turns to keep your brain active and guessing.

Characters: all of our favourites and a few more. I loved seeing them all navigate existence outside of the Scholomance.

Writing: I loved the depth Novik gave to the emotions felt throughout the novel, as well as the style with which she writes El’s point of view.

Theme/Message: had me hooked right from the beginning of the series, with lots to unpack in terms of societal values and more.

 

Eleanor is an English graduate and Medieval Studies student looking to use her skills to help save the planet. She adores reading and knows books will always be at the heart of her life, no matter where her career takes her.

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