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Literature / Carry On

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"The entire Internet writes about Baz and Simon. If you go to Google and type in 'Baz and Simon,' the first search it suggests is 'Baz and Simon in love.'"
Cath, Fangirl

Carry On is a Young Adult novel by Rainbow Rowell, a companion to her novel Fangirl. It's not Gemma T. Leslie's eighth Simon Snow book, and it's not exactly Cath's Carry On, Simon. It's another "fanfiction" rendition of the eighth Simon Snow book, written in the way that Rainbow Rowell would have penned such a tale.note  And as Cath told us, nigh all Simon Snow fanfic is Simon/Baz Slash Fic.

The Simon Snow series is an expy of the Harry Potter series, with a parentless Chosen One wizard who attends a British Wizarding School. But while in framework they parallel, that breaks down the further you go. While the characters might fit their expy counterparts in their initial roles—Simon is Harry, Baz is Draco, Penny is both Ron and Hermione, the Mage is Dumbledore—their personalities are rather different, and by the end their roles have changed substantially.

What makes Carry On interesting is that it is presented as fanfic of a series that doesn't exist—but it still plays off the tropes of that series (and sometimes disparages on them!). For example, multiple characters say how stupid the name "the Insidious Humdrum" is, and Agatha (who's implied to be something of a Satellite Love Interest in the original) rejects her role in the story.

It later spiralled into a series:

  1. Carry On (2015)
  2. Wayward Son (2019)
  3. Any Way the Wind Blows (2021)

Tropes for Carry On:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The premise and the style of the book are that of fanfic, but unlike with real fanfic, readers don't come to the story already having read the Simon Snow books, since they don't actually exist. This means than some things have to be treated differently than they would in real fanfic.
    • In real fanfic, you can expect readers to know the premise of the story, setting, background, characters, and so on. But here they don't, so the first couple chapters are Infodumps dedicated to setting the stage.
    • With real Slash Fic, people are already familiar with the characters and their relationship—and you can usually assume that if someone's choosing reading a Slash Fic for a certain couple, they already ship the pairing in question. In Carry On, the relationship begins much later than it usually would in real Slash Fic. Before they get together, there has to be time spend developing Simon and Baz as characters, as well as their pre-ship relationship—for them getting together to have any value, the readers must first be convinced to ship them.
  • Accidental Murder: Penelope and Simon accidentally kill the Mage in self-defense.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Agatha has a kind-of-crush on Baz for this reason.
  • Alliterative Family: Martin and Mitali got together and had Premal, Penelope, Pacey, Priya, and Pip.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles:
    • Baz's stepmom says he's used to being discreet about his condition so he could probably see a muggle therapist. Baz rejects this idea immediately.
    • The ending averts this: Simon has skype therapy sessions with one of the few magickal psychologists in the world, and says they really help. Rainbow Rowell apparently got very fed up with the idea that Chosen Ones can't get PTSD treatment.
  • Ambiguously Bi/If It's You, It's Okay: Simon's not sure he's gay, and it seems that he did really like Agatha when they first got together, but it's not totally clear.
  • Anti-Magic: The Humdrum itself acts as a living embodiment of this, its very presence creating dead spots in the world where magic no longer exists. It is revealed that it is not the cause of magic dying out, just the personification of it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Mage wanted to fulfill the prophecy, but in doing so also accidentally created the Humdrum which desires magic.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The mage is obsessed with the Prophecy concerning Simon's status as the Chosen One. This obsession is in part due to the fact that he created Simon as a Chosen One in the first place
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Insidious Humdrum, a magic devoring entity, though its role as such is partly Deconstructed, and a tad Parodied. The Mage effectively comes into this as well considering he's the true culprit of the main mystery of the novel, the murder of Natasha Grimm-Pitch, not to mention he's the one who got Baz kidnapped in the first place to make sure said murder couldn't be solved
  • Big Damn Kiss: Simon plants one on Baz during a very emotionally charged situation. The setting is appropriately dramatic—it's in the middle of a fire. Several more follow.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Humdrum is defeated, at the cost of Simon's magic and the Mage's and Ebb's life. With that said, he and Penny rent a flat together and he and Baz are in official and acknowledged relationship
  • Blessed with Suck: Simon Snow, as The Chosen One, is gifted with a reserve of magic power unrivaled by any other magic user. The only problem is that he is unable to actually use it properly, with spells he tries to cast in the traditional manner being ineffective and spells he manages to cast being unpredictable or overpowered, as well as suffering severe Power Incontinence when stressed. We later find out that it is much more effective not as an ability in it of itself, but a means of boosting other people's magic, and even then Baz is the only one able to handle any of it without suffering excruciating pain. It is also revealed that his overpowered magic is also damaging to the atmosphere of magic, each one of his spells creating the dead-spots supposedly caused by the Humdrum.
  • Blunt "Yes": Simon delivers a great one to Baz.
    Simon: I thought you'd be happy that I came back.
    Baz: [snears] Why? So we can tumble around and kiss and pretend to be happy boyfriends?
    Simon: [Shakes his head, then rolls his eyes mightily] Yeah… I guess so. Yes. Let's do that, okay?
  • Broken Pedestal: The Mage to Simon by the end of the book.
  • The Chosen One: Simon's birth and quest to save the World of Mages has been foretold by every oracle. Subverted in that Simon is actually the reason the Insidious Humdrum exists, and thus the cause of one of the greatest threats to the World of Mages. Double Subverted when Simon gives his magic back to the Humdrum, thus defeating it. He then accidentally kills The Mage, which ends the war between The Mage and The Old Families, and leads to governmental reform among the magicians in The Coven.
  • Cool Aunt: Aunt Fiona for Baz.
  • Create Your Own Hero/Villain: In an effort to bring about the fabled Chosen One to bring change to the magical community, the Mage used ritual magic to imbue his son, Simon, with unrivaled magic power. As a result, this also created the Insidious Humdrum, an equal-opposite reaction to Simon's overwhelming power.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The vampires, notably Baz and Nicodemus.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Mage made one with the vampires that attacked the school and killed Baz's mother. That was the only way they could have accessed the grounds.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The series takes a sledgehammer to several tropes and characters from YA fantasy.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Baz notes that while his father has come to terms with him being a vampire (despite that being such a huge taboo among mages that he's officially required to keep it a secret or risk being killed by his own community), he's a lot more uncomfortable with acknowledging the fact that his son is gay. Veers into Does This Remind You of Anything? whenever the two traits are contrasted.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: It turns out "Snow" was meant to be a ridiculous middle name.
    • Inverted with Baz, whose given name is Tyrannus Basilton. Presumably, he goes by his middle name because it's moderately less embarrassing.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Baz stopped trying to kill Simon after a voice-stealing spell hit Innocent Bystander Phillipa and forced her to leave Watford indefinitely.
    • Nicodemus explicitly tells Baz that he didn't lead the attack that killed Baz's mother because his sister worked at the school.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Ebb and her brother along with most of the main character's parents, though they weren't all in the same year. Justified since Watford is the only school for magic in the country.
  • Exact Words: Ebb has been forbidden from talking to her brother Nicodemus, who went willingly to the vampires. That doesn't stop her from talking to the air when he is nearby, rambling about everything from goats to politics.
  • Fantastic Racism: Old-school magicians are notoriously classist against potential magic users that lack the bloodlines or physical preferences. Penelope's father—a magical genius—was nearly denied on the grounds of having a lisp.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Watford, like Hogwarts, is a Wizarding School with various magical creatures living in the grounds but the snow devils are actually specified to be a protected magical species. It's illegal to attack them even after they throw snowballs at you.
  • Foreshadowing: Simon mentions that magickal instruments are aretfacts inherited within families in the same chapter he mentions that the Mage gave him his wand.
  • Gender-Blender Name: "Ebb" is short for Ebenezer.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Ebb and Nicodemus are described as looking like male/female versions of the same person.
  • Happily Ever After:
    • It's implied that in the original Simon Snow books, Agatha is just there to be Simon's happy ending. Here Agatha acknowledges and refuses her role as such, Defying the trope.
      Simon: You're my future!
      Agatha: Am I supposed to want that?
      Simon: I want it.
      Agatha: You just want a happy ending.
      Simon: Merlin, Agatha, don't you?
      Agatha: No! I don't! I want to be someone's right now, Simon, not their happily ever after. I don't want to be the prize at the end. The thing you get if you beat all the bosses.
    • Simon and Baz are heading this way by the end of the book.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Ebb escapes the Mage, who is trying to kill her to take her magic, but goes back and sacrifices herself to save Agatha when she realizes that he is going to kill Agatha in her place.
    • Simon gives up his magic to stop the Humdrum
  • Homage: To Harry Potter and fanfiction everywhere.
  • Hypocrisy Nod:
    • Simon lightly chides Penelope for complaining about her pixie roommate when she's chided him for doing the same about his roommate Baz.
    • Penny points out that that while "Trixie the pixie" is silly, people aren't held the the same standard and are allowed to have names that rhyme with their species.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Agatha doesn't care all that much about magic and prefers her Normal friends and her life and hobbies outside of Watford. It doesn't help that by dating Simon she feels like a side character next to much more powerful mages like Penelope and Baz.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": Penny's roommate Trixie is a pixie. Lampshaded by Baz:
    Baz: Imagine you're a pixie. I know it's distasteful, but imagine—you're a pixie, and you have a daughter, and you name her Trixie. Trixie the pixie. […] It's like being a fairy named Mary.
    Simon: Or a vampire named Gampire.
    Baz: Gampire isn't even a proper name, Snow. You're terrible at this game.
    Penelope: In Trixie's defence, the pixies probably don't go around calling themselves "pixies." I mean, you could be a human named Newman or a boy named Roy, and no one would think twice.
  • Love Triangle: As fanfiction of a series that doesn't actually exist, this trope gets both Inverted and Subverted in strange ways. It's implied that in the original Simon Snow books, there's a Betty and Veronica love triangle with Simon/Agatha/Baz: Simon, Agatha's nice Chosen One boyfriend of several years, is her Betty, while Baz, the dark vampire, is her Veronica. He sometimes flirted with Agatha, and she sometimes played along. In this "fanfic" though, while Agatha thinks that love triangle is still going, the trope is quickly squashed. It's revealed Baz never actually liked Agatha, and was just flirting with her to troll Simon—who he's actually in love with. And Simon doesn't really like Agatha that much anymore either. The closest thing to a real love triangle here has Simon as Archie, with Agatha as Betty, and Baz still as Veronica, but calling that situation a true love triangle is quite a stretch, because Simon isn't interested in both of them at the same time.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Averted, we as the audience, learn through Lucy (who is giving a narrative monologue to the Mage) that The Mage is Simon's biological father, and the one who made him into a magical tyke-bomb, but none of the main characters come to this knowledge, and every person who knows is dead. Simon's only possible shot at learning it will be in 20 more years, when the spirits of the dead can once again cross into the physical realm.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Dead-spots in the magic atmosphere - areas where all magic is sucked out of an ecosystem - began appearing in Britain, with all sources linked to a malignant entity known as the Insidious Humdrum. It is later revealed that it is Simon's unnaturally high reserve of magic power that creates both these dead-spots and the Humdrum, his overpowered spells overtax and essentially destroy the magical enviroment.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Parodied Trope with Penny's roommate Trixie. She's literally a pixie, and she's always bringing her girlfriend over to their room. A Manic Pixie Dream Girl's eccentricities might be charming when she fancies you, but they're annoying otherwise.
  • Meaningful Echo: The phrase "my rosebud boy" is repeated several times, always significantly.
  • Morality Chain: Lucy realizes that what Davy is trying to do won't go well, but hopes that her presence might tether him to sanity. It didn’t really work.
    I thought that whatever was coming would be better if I was there with him. I thought it helped him to be tied to me. Like a kite with a string.
  • Morality Pet: Ebb for Nicodemus. When he finds out that she's supposedly been arrested he tries to ally with Baz and Penelope to save her from the Mage.
  • Multiethnic Name: Discussed with Penelope Bunce — Simon was surprised that she had a traditionally English name when he first met her due to her ethnicity (she explains that she's the daughter of an Anglo-Indian mother and a white British father). Played Straight with two of her siblings, Premal and Priya; while Pip and Pacey (and Penny herself) Avert the trope. Presumably, Martin and Mitali took turns picking names for their kids.

  • Official Couple/Fan-Preferred Couple: In-universe. Simon and Baz are a weird Zigzagged example, in that they're the Official Couple of the book published about them, but they're framed as a Fan-Preferred Couple of the fictional series the real-world published book is supposed to be based on. The real-world fandom absolutely adores them. It seems that presenting your Official Couple as a Fan-Preferred Couple really gets the fans on board the ship.
  • Odd Friendship: Penelope and Baz have more in common than they thought, and become friends surprisingly easily.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Baz's aunt is never going to let him forget that he got kidnapped by numpties.
  • Our Mages Are Different: Magic users in the World of Mages draw their power from speaking words that resonate with non-magic users, such as: song lyrics, nursery rhymes, pop culture quotes, and even internet memes.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Baz, Nico, et al. can go outside in sunlight (though unless it's overcast they sunburn more easily and severely than regular humans), and not only can eat human food but apparently need it in addition to blood in order to survive. However, they are still technically dead, or more accurately undead: Baz is biracial but appears grey-white post-vampiric transformation thanks to his lack of natural blood flow, and it's mentioned several times that he's constantly cold to the touch and has no heartbeat.
    • Any Way the Wind Blows reveals that vampires can age and die alongside their human partners if they wish, as long as they abstain from drinking human blood and stick to draining animals.

  • Posthumous Character: Natasha Grimm-Pitch and Lucy.
  • Power of the Void: It is revealed that the Insidious Humdrum is the embodiment of the absence of magic caused by Simon's powers, and is able to imbue the existence (or rather inexistence) of that absence into magical creatures, turning them rabid.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Penny has this attitude a little, and it annoys Agatha.
    Penny: Why do the gingerbread girls have to wear pink?
    Agatha: Why should the gingerbread girls feel like they shouldn't wear pink? I like pink.
    Penny: Only because you've been conditioned to like it by Barbies and gendered Lego.
    Agatha: Lay off, Penny. I've never played with Lego.
  • Red Herring: When the ghost of Baz's mother tells Simon to find Nicodemus and avenge her, Baz and Simon assume that Nicodemus might have been involved with her murder or allied with those who were. As it turns out, Nicodemus knows who the murderer is, but he would never attack the school.
  • Rhyming Names: Discussed when Baz lampshades the silliness of having a pixie named Trixie, and the guys come up with various other rhyming names for other creatures, such as Mary the fairy and Gampire the vampire.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Baz thinks the Mage was behind his kidnapping but Penny realises that it was actually the person who killed his mother, trying to prevent Natasha from revealing the truth to her son. Both of them are right; the Mage and the murderer turn out to be the same person.
  • Shipper on Deck: Agatha's parents for Agatha and Simon. She doesn't have the heart to tell them that she broke up with Simon and that she uninvited him for the holidays.
  • Shoo the Dog: The Mage at the beginning of the school year tries to send Simon away, for his safety, from the Humdrum and the old-school wizards. Simon refuses to leave, however, and the Mage acquiesces after Simon nearly loses his temper.
  • Title Drop: Baz talking to his mum, near the end.
    Baz: But—I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to carry on. As I am.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Simon and his scones. It also seems like Baz really likes apples.
  • True Companions: Penelope and Simon. She insists on this.
  • The Unreveal: An internal example. The audience is well aware that The Mage is Simon's father by the end of the first book, but the surviving characters in the story never learn this and now have no way of finding out. From the audience's perspective, there's an Unreveal in that we never get to see how Simon would react to this information.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Zigzagged—it's specifically is noted that not all vampires are attractive, but Baz just happens to be good looking in a classically vampiric way. He got his widow's peak from his non-vampire dad.
  • Wizarding School: Watford School of Magicks.
  • Wizard Duel: A few are mencioned in passing, but surprincingly, given the setting and the mayor background being the conflict between the Mage and the Old Families, only one is depicted in the whole book, onscreen: the Mage vs Ebb, which is actually quite close. The Mage only wins due to Ebb having less combat knowledge and sort of giving up halfways. Beforehand she had the upper hand.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: When Baz calls Simon "Simon" rather than "Snow".

Tropes for Wayward Son

  • Ambiguously Bi: Simon is still unsure whether he's gay, bi, or just exclusively into Baz, but also notes that he doesn't exactly hate being surrounded by women in low-cut blouses at the renaissance fair.
  • Bittersweet Ending: More bitter than the previous one. Agatha regains her will to do magic, while Penelope vows to take Shepard to England and treat his demon curse and Simon decides to repair his relationship with Baz. They are all visibly traumatized, and Lamb got away along with most of the vampires; Baz is shaken by the thought that they'll always find more mages for their experiments. Meanwhile, new drama is happening at Watford, so everyone needs to return.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Simon and Baz have the interesting distinction of suffering from this after they've been dating for over a year: both are so wrapped up in their own insecurities that they believe the other must want to end their relationship, to the point where they've withdrawn from each other and so neither notices that the other is struggling with the exact same problem. They both spend a lot of time internally reflecting on how much they love their soon-to-be-ex without ever actually saying it as a result.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Burning Lad festival, which Agatha mentions being all ready to go before Ginger pushes her to go to the retreat with her and Josh; and Agatha's spell to light her cigarette, the only spell she can cast without opening her mouth. When the heroes are stuck in a Quiet Zone, the festival's ending parade comes nearby just enough that they have access to magic, Agatha is the first one to realize and uses her spell for cigars to burn a vampire and explode the car where they're being held hostages.
  • Cliffhanger: Wayward Son ends with a double whammy: Simon is about to respond to Baz's reaffirmed declaration of love — and seems to be rejecting it, at least from Baz's point of view — when Penny interrupts the moment by announcing that some as-yet-unnamed catastrophe has called them all back to Watford. Fortunately, the wait between the second and third books was comparatively short (less than two years).
  • Darker and Edgier: Significantly darker than the first book. While the first one had more magical threats, the threats this time aren't world-ending, but they're constant and even more life-threatening. The characters have no safety net and nobody to rely on, having to steal and break magic rules for money, food, and clothes. The villain is no longer a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but a lunatic cult leader with selfish intentions. Not to mention, the levity and sweetness of Simon and Baz's relationship has been turned into another source of drama, with them on the verge of a break up and their relationship uncertain and tenuous due t Simon's depression.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Shepard commands himself quite well during the operation to rescue Agatha. He reveals that Josh the vampire couldn't drink his blood because Shepard is cursed, having promised his soul to a demon.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Penelope at first doesn't trust Shepard because he's been following them in his truck and can No-Sell magic. All reasonable, though Shepard points out that if he wanted them dead, he wouldn't be rescuing them from their own stupidity. When he spearheads the mission to rescue Agatha, saving her and Penelope, he confesses that he was cursed a few years ago, which negates the effect of magic on him. Penelope insists he's coming with them to England to treat the curse, no questions asked.
  • For Halloween Im Going As Myself: A variant; Simon insists that the trio go to a Renaissance Faire in Iowa to have some fun, and doesn't hide his wings. This leads to a lot of people taking photos and complimenting his cosplay.
  • Gilded Cage: Discussed. The vampire cult is very wealthy and would treat Baz well, with Lamb sparing him for that purpose. Baz refuses to consider the option because he's not a coldblooded killer and is no one's guinea pig.
  • Good All Along: Shepard rescues the trio from trespassing disputes with American magical creatures, twice, but Penelope refuses to trust him because she can sense he has an ulterior motive and he can No-Sell their spells. Shepard reveals that he felt bad for a bunch of naive mages stumbling through America and was hoping to learn from them to update his blog. When the chips are down, he is a reliable Empowered Badass Normal.
  • Happy Ending Override: The last book ended bittersweet but hopeful and happy; Simon was seeing a therapist about his trauma and getting together with Baz. Wayward Son starts with Simon in a fit of depression, having blown off therapy and school. Just as he prepares to break up with Baz so as to not burden him, Penelope interrupts by saying they're taking a trip to see Agatha and make sure she's okay.
    • Depending on your perspective, the ending for Agatha could count as well: the first book ends with her leaving magic behind and going to live a normal (but relatively glamorous) life in California, which is what she wanted. The second book ends with her deciding to return to England and pick up at least some of her magical abilities. It's nice that she's reuniting with her friends and family, but kind of sad that she's being dragged back into a life she didn't want, especially since the drama at Watford will likely put her in danger again — the exact scenario she left to avoid in the first place.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Agatha is in denial about hers. She keeps saying she doesn't want to do magic anymore or be a part of the Watford life. When the trio nearly gets killed for vampire experiments, Agatha while Bound and Gagged manages to do enough magic to save herself and Penelope.
    • Simon is in a bad funk after the events of the last book, though it takes a while to bubble up and affect him.
    • Poor Penelope is crying when Micah outright breaks up with her after she goes to see him in person. Simon and Baz fill her up with American Comfort Food and call Micah a "bastard" and a coward.
  • Offscreen Breakup: Lampshaded. Penelope thinks that she and Micah have been an item together in a long-distance relationship. She doesn't even realize that Micah had broken up with her because he claims she didn't listen. Simon and Baz believe Micah was a coward for not saying it upfront.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Because Micah didn't outright break up with Penelope and instead kept dropping hints, she assumes they were still together.
    • Baz and Simon both believe the other wants to break up, and increasingly spend their time bracing for incoming heartbreak so as not to distress the other with their reaction — which means they never actually have the conversation that would presumably lead to them realising they both want to stay together.
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: Zigzagged with Penny and Agatha. Under ordinary circumstances they admit they aren't that close now that they've left school and probably wouldn't still be friends if it weren't for Simon, but they do have a tendency to cling to one another (physically and emotionally) when in peril. Which happens a lot...
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The dragon that captures the trio. She is mad at them for trespassing, but listens to Shepard when he vouches for them, mistaking Simon for being a fledgling. The dragon warns Shepard to not be naive, and returns Penelope's stone if not her entire ring. She also offers to let Simon stay with her to master his flying.
  • Road Trip Plot/Vacation Episode: The entire plot revolves around Simon, Baz, and Penny travelling from England to the USA in order to take a road trip from Chicago to San Diego.
  • Seen It All: Shepard is quite calm about all the magical shenanigans for a Normal that runs a blog on the supernatural. He reveals that he got cursed by a demon ritual gone wrong, and he's had to live with it for years.
  • She's Back: Agatha finally pulls a Damsel out of Distress moment in the climax, embracing magic again and her role in the Watford shenanigans.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: When trying to determine whether he's gay or bi, Simon also considers the possibility that he might have this for Baz.
  • Success Through Insanity: Shepard counts as this. He's an Empowered Badass Normal that has befriended nearly every magical creature in the United States, including a freaking dragon and can No-Sell any magic that the mages toss at him. What's more, he insists on helping them with the only benefit of getting more information for his blog. Heck, in the climax he stands up to a vampire and reveals they get poisoned when biting him because he was cursed by a demon.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Simon is clearly suffering from depression after the trauma of what he went through in Carry On (with symptoms including lack of energy and enthusiasm, subsequent withdrawal from relationships and academic pursuits, poor self-care leading to weight gain, and an absolutely tanked sex drive). These all worsen significantly after he breaks off from seeing his therapist.
    • The America trip brings a lot of it for the trio (especially Penelope, it must be said):
      • Penelope hopes that taking a road trip will shake Simon out of his funk, but in fact it mostly leads to him experiencing sudden, brief bursts of intense happiness followed by an equally sudden return to apathy — because holidays can be a nice distraction, but not a replacement for therapy.
      • Penelope assumes that Chicago is a short drive away from California. When they actually look it up, the time takes about 31 hours by car. Baz lampshades that Penelope ought to have done the research before they traveled.
      • Likewise, she assumes that she and Micah are still an item, and that seeing him will usher in a Grand Romantic Gesture to fix the problems in their relationship. Micah broke up with her ages ago, if not communicating it well, and is seeing a new girl. He bluntly says that a relationship isn't about the end result, but the middle steps in between that you take together.
      • Shepard delivers this. He tells the trio that America has different rules about magic that they need to learn if they're going to survive, and Normals aren't stupid. There's an entire Internet community that is studying magic. They try to ignore him, only to nearly get killed by a dragon.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Discussed. When they see vampires at a Renaissance Faire Festival, Baz wants to slaughter them immediately. Simon counters that they may be like Baz, just wanting to enjoy the sights. The point becomes moot when the vampires attack them first.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Lamb and the surviving vampires run away when the trio gains the upper hand.
  • You Are Worth Hell: In the climax, Simon points out that the vampire cult has ample knowledge on how Baz could learn to be a vampire properly, and find out more about himself, so Baz should stay in America. Baz vetoes the notion; he says that he only wants to be with Simon, no matter where that is.
  • You Will Be Spared: Lamb tries to save Baz from the cult, arguing that he's one of them and one-of-a-kind: a vampire that can do magic. Baz doesn't appreciate the gesture, since Lamb put his friends in danger to study their DNA and learn the source of magic.

Tropes for Any Way the Wind Blows

  • Beta Couple: Both Penelope and Shepard and Agatha and Niamh for Simon and Baz.
  • Bittersweet Ending: More sweet than bitter this time, thankfully. Simon is unable to regain his magic and might yet decide to undergo surgery to remove his wings and tail, and is re-traumatised by the realisation that he killed his own father; but he's found his birth family at last, and he and Baz are finally able to commit to each other fully. Penelope and Shepard are forced to separate for a while, but in the knowledge that they have a solid plan to reunite and that Penny's family has started to accept their relationship. Agatha remains somewhat estranged from her friends, family, and magical life; but has found her own shot at happiness taking over Ebb's place as Watford's goatherd and begins a romance with Niamh, who despite their surface-level differences shares many of her values.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Fiona and Baz argue about if they should find out what Baz's stepmother is doing. Baz says that if Daphne and his father are having a fight, maybe it's best to talk to Daphne and find out what's going on, which is more than fair for him to do as her stepson. Fiona says that Daphne is an adult and free to make her own decisions. Baz realizes belatedly why she came to this view: Daphne simply does not want to come home from Smith's teachings, and has refused to talk to her children, Baz's half-siblings.
  • The Bus Came Back: Both from a plot perspective and In-Universe from the protagonists' point of view. Agatha's old Watford roommate never actually appeared on-page but was mentioned as having dropped out of school after she got caught in the cross-fire of a magical duel between Simon and Baz, causing her to lose her voice (and therefore her ability to cast spells). After being little more than a passing aside in book one and going completely unmentioned in book two, she actually turns up in person here as a significant supporting character.
  • Covers Always Lie: The blurb brings up Baz's new knowledge of vampire society as his major concern for the final book, where in fact, it barely comes up at all and is dropped entirely after just a couple of mentions. Even when he does eventually find out that he can age and die naturally with Simon as long as he avoids drinking human blood, it's from a passing aside comment made by Nico, not from his prospective mentors.
  • Deconstruction: As part of the series' Harry Potter deconstruction, Niamh serves to inform the reader that other Watford students weren't actually in awe of Simon, Penny, Agatha, Baz, et al.: instead, they were generally annoyed and inconvenienced by their antics, since they were actually there to get a good education in a safe environment and didn't enjoy the frequent life-or-death battles they got caught up in. Retroactively makes the first book even funnier as it turns out Simon wasn't being heroically modest when he described Penny as more or less his only friend: the main characters really weren't very popular with the other students.
  • Easily Forgiven: Invoked. Daphne is mortified about how a cult, for better lack of a term, convinced her to abandon her family for several weeks and she was duped for her money. Baz drives her home and tells her to act natural. His siblings and father welcome her back, with no mention of where she was.
  • Exact Words: How Penny finally frees Shepard from his magical curse/engagement to a demon. The contract stipulates that Shepard Love will marry the demon upon his death... but since he lost his spiritual connection to his surname (also through a magical deal gone wrong) she successfully argues that he technically isn't Shepard Love any more, so the deal is null and void.
  • Grand Finale: Rainbow Rowell has been very clear that this will be the final book in the Simon Snow series. However, she has clarified that she won't rule out returning to the characters at some point, just that The Hero's Journey for Simon has ended with this trilogy.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After losing his sister and falling for Fiona, Nicodemus has turned away from the eviler sides of vampirism. He's stopped feeding on people and switched to animals. Baz congratulates him on potentially becoming a step-uncle.
  • History Repeats: The epilogue shows Agatha taking Ebb's place as Watford's goatherd. Just to underscore it further, she also begins a relationship with another woman, while Ebb was an acknowledged (but possibly celibate) lesbian.note 
  • Internal Reveal: Simon finally learns that the Mage was his father at the end of the book, something the readers have known since partway through Book 1.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: This is why Simon is skeptical at first that Smith-Richards is the real Chosen One; he hopes that it's true after seeing the man in action, but Simon says that being the Chosen One of mages sucks. He had to give up his childhood, his magic, and his status. No one in their right mind would want that burden.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Downplayed, since they never go through with it, but when they visit Watford again, Simon is turned on by the hypothetical that if he and Baz had worked their feelings out earlier, they could have spent their time there getting it on with each other. He wants to make out with Baz on the library and on the catacombs and asks him if they could go around the places where they fought in the school to make out there.
  • Meaningful Echo: At the beginning of Book 1 Simon talks about how he always fantasized his family would come for him and that they would say "We'be been looking for you." and that they never meant to give him up. It gets repeated here almost word for word by Simon's uncle Jaime when it's made clear he's Lucy Salisbury's missing son and you can tell he really means it.
  • Missing Child: As we find out in this book Lady Ruth Salisbury had to live through a lot of them in her life.
    • Her daughter Lucy starts to date a notorious troublemaker while at school and eventually runs off with him after graduating. She goes mostly no contact with only the occasional letters letting her mother know she's even alive until even those stop after a few years. Her only hope is that she ran away to America which for most mage families would be a disgrace because the alternatives are that much worse.
    • Her son is born with a speech impediment which disqualifies him from going to school with his sister and despite her best efforts loses his confidence to the point that he eventually stops using magic altogether. Years later he gets into conspiracy theories and eventually disappears just like Lucy did with Lady Ruth being at her wits end on how to find him, only holding on hope that he is alive because of a spell she cast.
  • The Missus and the Ex: A bisexual variant when Simon and Baz turn up at Watford at the exact same time that Agatha and Niamh arrive, leading to Simon spending a few hours hanging out with his ex-girlfriend and current boyfriend at the same time. Subverted somewhat in that only Baz seems uncomfortable, with Simon and Agatha having apparently become Amicable Exes at last. Unbeknownst to any of them at the time, this trope is also in effect for Agatha, what with Simon being her ex-boyfriend and Niamh being her soon-to-be-girlfriend.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Parodied and carried out In-Universe with Niamh's introduction. Agatha works with her for several weeks before realising that they were on Watford's lacrosse team together for years and that Niamh was present for several major dramatic events in her adventures with Simon.
  • The Reveal: We find out exactly what Shepard's curse is: during an attempt to talk to a demon, he entered a marriage contract with her instead, enforceable upon his death. That's why he's immune to magic or attempts to Turn him into an immortal; his soul belongs to the demon. Penelope is displeased when his contract is translated because she wanted him to be honest with her.
  • Sequel Hook: Simon's journey is over, but Baz has yet to make a decision about what to do with the knowledge of the American vampires he gained in Wayward Son. He knows that Lamb has his number and wants him alive, but wants his friends dead. On the other hand, the immigration policy for Americans and the fact that Baz isn't on the Internet means that Lamb would have a heck of a time tracking him down.
  • The Sixth Ranger: New character Niamh is effectively the sixth main protagonist, even though she doesn't receive any POV chapters, making her feel a lot like this.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Simon breaks up with Baz early on in the book as a direct result of the issues portrayed in Wayward Son. They both spend a couple of days mooching around in a funk and it seems like it will take some overblown supernatural shenanigans to bring them back together and have them hook up again at the very end. However, what actually happens is that Baz goes to Simon's new flat and tells him that he wants to talk through their problems. Actually communicating helps them to realise that they still love each other but will have to work harder if they want to be together. They tentatively reunite by the book's midpoint, and in the end their relationship is portrayed as healthy and strong precisely because they no longer rely on facing major dramatic events together to keep their relationship going (which is often a factor in fictional couples' relationships but is demonstrably disastrous long-term and/or in real life).
    • This is why Penelope cuts some corners to help Shephard travel to the U.K. with them. Shepard doesn't have a valid passport, let alone the means to procure a visa. It would take weeks to go through legitimate channels, and Penelope doesn't want to wait that long to help him when they had vampires on their tail.
  • Their First Time: The fact that Simon and Baz haven't had sex yet in over a year of dating gets mentioned a few times in Wayward Son, but Any Way the Wind Blows digs into Simon's trauma-induced intimacy issues in more detail. Their relationship gradually improves over the course of the book as they make more of an effort at communicating with each other, leading to a long-delayed Relationship Upgrade moment during the final chapters.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: After the initial set-up the characters split into three groups of two and stay that way for most of the book, with the A plot following Simon and Baz, the B plot following Penelope and Shepard, and the C plot following Agatha and Niamh. Simon and Baz occasionally overlap with the other two duos individually, but Penelope and Agatha never directly interact again after the opening, and Niamh and Shepard never even meet.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In-universe, every mage and magical creature that Penelope and Shepard encounter has this opinion about summoning a demon. Even if you don't die, you may suffer a Fate Worse than Death. Penelope keeps reminding Shepard of this, wondering what had gotten into him. Demons are worse than lawyers, in that they know every means to combat loopholes and even manipulate them.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Baz's central conflict after Wayward Son is set up as being his newfound knowledge of the vampire societies in America — some of which are very dangerous, while others might really be able to help him cope with his condition better. However, this is dropped entirely after the first few chapters, when Baz's focus shifts completely onto his relationship with Simon (and, to a lesser extent, his step-mother's disappearance). He at least has the reassurance that the vampires are an ocean away, and he has no plan on flying back any time soon.

Alternative Title(s): Carry On The Riseand Fallof Simon Snow