The author's note mentions that this book is inspired by all the Chosen One stories she has read but we all can guess from page one that this is based on Harry Potter. This is also definitely an ode to all the shippers of Drarry in the fandom.
Simon is the greatest mage the magickal world has ever known but he doesn't know what to do with all the power. He is a flawed Chosen One, a very directionless teenage boy upon whom a huge responsibility has been thrust. He fights evil only because everyone expects him to and just hopes that he will have a secure future with the beautiful Agatha after the whole war is done. Baz is the heir to one of the oldest and powerful families and behaves as such – being all snobby and rude but he is hiding a lot of feelings and a terrible truth behind that rough exterior. Penny is a great friend who just wants the best for Simon and whose organizational skills just made me feel inferior. Agatha is a simple girl who wants to lead a quiet life without any adventures.
This is a fantasy novel but there isn't much world building. We get to know a little about the school and the magickal system but how/why the evil guy is evil is never truly explained. The way the spells work is vague but also hilarious. I loved the idea of a spell's power being dependent on the usage and frequency and sometimes, even the metaphorical meaning behind the words. The story also occurs during Simon's final year at Watford, so we only get to know about his past adventures and his eternal enmity with Baz in passing.
The strength of this book is definitely the relationship between Simon and Baz. The story doesn't even get interesting until Baz actually shows up after a quarter. They hate each other, want to kill the other, keep bickering all the time, always look for where the other is in the room and feel very very restless when the other is nowhere to be found – you can where this is going – you can actually feel all the UST flowing through the pages. I shipped them hard even before Baz showed up and then it was absolute fun watching them get together. Baz's superior magickal skills and steadfastness are well complemented by Simon's (sometimes) cluelessness and conviction to just do good.
There are a lot of POV's and many side characters here but we can see how difficult it is to actually flesh out so many of them. That's one reason why, though I liked a lot of characters like Penny, Fiona, Ebb etc, I couldn't really care a lot about any of them and none of the bad things that happened towards the end actually affected me. The climax is also very rushed and I couldn't wrap my head around why the evil got created and what Simon was really supposed to vanquish.
You might be wondering now why I gave this book 4 stars when I've mostly just discussed all it's negatives. But I really did have a lot of fun reading this one. I'm a huge fan of fanfiction and I can't describe how much my life changed after discovering AO3 and tumblr. So, I went into this book expecting a slash tribute to my favorite literary characters and I got just that. The plot is obviously a lot different from HP but I was so entertained trying to figure out which character from this book corresponds to characters from the Potterverse. The writing is also very funny and the dynamic between Simon and Baz is precious. I totally loved going on this adventure to Watford with them.