The Wizards of Once: Never and Forever
Readers will hopefully be coming to Never and Forever after reading the first three books - although the backstory is explained in each, it's much better to read them in order - and will be returning to the series fresh from a breathtaking cliffhanger!
Our heroes Wish and Xar, as well as Wish's bodyguard Bodkin, are in dreadful peril. They now have all the ingredients of the spell that is supposed to Get Rid of Witches and they are on their way to challenge the terrifying Kingwitch who is confined in a ball of iron.
But he's not afraid of the spell at all. In fact, he wants them to come... and that is not a good sign! Xar's little companion Squeezjoos is in terrible danger and badly needs saving.
It's all so thrilling and by now we know the characters so well that we're terribly proud of them and worried for them. The resulting yarn is utterly compelling, and as with all the books in this series, it's to be read at breakneck speed. On top of that, we finally get to find out who the narrator of the story is (readers, tempting as it is, DO NOT PEEK to the end - be patient!)
Without giving away the ending in a review, which is a difficult task, all that can be said is that this is a wonderful series to be savoured by fans of How To Train Your Dragon.
It's so well written, the characters and story come totally alive on the page - and Cressida Cowell's beautiful, expressive scratchy drawings add so much. This is mesmerising, truly captivating world-building. The final battle scenes are breathtaking, too - Cressida's imagination knows no bounds, and this is epic stuff!
On top of all that, there's real wisdom here about how adults need to take responsibility to sort out the world, which is timely in this era of children protesting against climate change. A great finale to a great series.