Any Way the Wind Blows
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: Simon Snow, #3
Page Count: 640
Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group
Original Publication Date: 2021
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy, Queer
After battling a new wave of magic-obsessed vampires in America, Simon, Baz, Penny, and Agatha return home face their fears, futures, and new threats. Simon has decided to leave magic and the World of Mages behind for good – but does that mean leaving his friends and boyfriend behind, too? Baz has quite a few emergencies to handle: his aunt has been arrested; his stepmother is missing, leaving his father and stepsiblings an absolute mess; and his relationship seems like it’s holding on by a thin, final thread. Penny is out of her mind – she’s brought home a cursed Normal and is planning on helping him break the curse, and it’s strictly because she’s a good Magician and friend, and not because she’s totally falling for a Normal. Agatha wanted to leave magic behind, but that was a bust – so now she’s helping her father’s vet assistant with a goat problem at Watford, which seems safe enough since she’s not hanging out with or dating the Chosen One anymore. And speaking of Chosen Ones, there’s a new one in town, and he’s about to become everyone’s problem.
I have been waiting for Any Way the Wind Blows for too long. After the tumultuous events of Wayward Son, I was terrified to read the final book in the trilogy for fear of character deaths and relationship endings. I really wanted to read it in one sitting, but my life didn’t allow for that. Luckily I did get to read pages 245-640 in one sitting – I stayed up until 3AM to do it, and it was worth it. I literally closed the book and cried because I love Simon and Baz so very much and I did not want this series to end. I get very emotional finishing series like this! I already miss the characters so much. I know I just re-read books 1 and 2 in order to read book 3, but I already want to jump back in and do another re-read.
AWTWB follows the same format as the previous two books: first person POV with alternating perspectives, the main ones being Simon, Baz, Penny, Shep, and Agatha. I was a bit disappointed that the vet assistant, Niamh, didn’t get any POV chapters, but it is what it is. The plot is all over the place, in that we follow all of these characters on separate adventures. They were all equally interesting and satisfying in their own ways. However, I do have a couple issues with the plot in relation to this being the final book of the trilogy. Though I loved where the book was going, I don’t think it was concluded properly.
Wayward Son followed the gang across America and focused heavily on Simon and Baz’s struggling relationship. That was important and necessary. The book also introduced Shep, who became a main character and someone that I grew to love – also necessary. But the entire NowNext vampire plot was for what? Was it just a plot device to introduce Shep and further the development of Snowbaz? Because none of the characters told anyone at home about the NowNext vampires. They seemed like a huge threat to vampires and Magicians alike in America, and yet the gang was just kind of like “eh, let American deal with it.” And that was it. It feels like a very unfinished plot point. As do the events of this third book. (If you didn’t believe me before about spoilers, believe me now – I am about to spoil things.) Smith Smith-Richards is arrested for being a farce and basically killing Magician’s magic. Why was he doing it? He wasn’t stealing it – he was just doing it for fame and recognition, I assume? I feel like his motives weren’t really flushed out. And what happens to him next? He seemed very vindictive, with his final POV chapter talking about fate and destiny and going along with it. I wanted more of a resolution to his storyline. And what about Lucy? How did she die? And does Simon’s magic come back or not? Headmistress Bunce acted like it might, if Simon stopped thinking he was Normal and stopped resisting magic. For a finale, it seemed very open-ended, and not in a good way.
That’s basically my main and only critique of the book, and though it is a big one, it’s not enough to make me dislike the book or the series as a whole. Why? Because I care more about character development than plot. The character development in this book (and series) is why I read it. Simon and Baz are two of my favorite fictional characters and absolutely one of my favorite couples. I love that their relationship wasn’t basic and boring – it was realistic and honest and up-and-down. I would have died had they not ended up fighting for each other in the end, so thank you, Rainbow, for not killing me. I sobbed when they broke up early in the book, and I’m really glad they quickly got back together. I enjoyed seeing how they both handled the breakup and how hard they worked to make up and make it work. They are such great characters and they will always be in my heart. Penny and Shep was also a great development! I wasn’t sure if they’d fall for each other or not, but I’m happy they did. I really enjoyed their chapters. And I loved following Penny’s character arc. I didn’t really like her in Carry On, and I only half-liked her in Wayward Son, so I’m happy to say after the final book, I really do love her as a character now. Agatha is a bit harder to like. I’m glad her chapters are always the smallest in all three books. I felt her budding relationship with Niamh seemed a bit random and thrown in for fun, but I support it nonetheless. I’m glad she found her calling with the goats and is going to be happy for once, because wow was it a long journey to happiness for her. Overall, excellent character development and relationship arcs. Very satisfied with all of them.
Despite unanswered questions and plot points that went nowhere, I did love this book and series. I forever will. One of my favorite series I’ve read. I’m so happy to own beautiful matching hardcover copies that will live on my shelf forever. I can’t wait to do another re-read and re-enter this world. I miss the gang already.