As is increasingly becoming a staple for author Rainbow Rowell, the characters of Carry On are warm, complex and real. The romance is sweet, beautifully messy, and just a touch unconventional (two gay magicians, one of which is a vampire…).
It’s easy to get a little lost thinking how this novel was inspired by a fanfiction work (Cath’s fanfiction in Fangirl) of a doubly fictional series (The Simon Snow novels, Cath’s fictional favourite books in Fangirl), with obvious roots in a ‘real’ fiction (Harry Potter). It’s better just to focus on this novel’s heart, its impeccable dialogue, which is definitely Rowell’s strongest form, and its quiet subversions of the ‘chosen-one’ fantasy genre.
It’s not my favourite work of Rowell’s: the fantasy world is too much in the background for my tastes, the political analogies in Rowling’s work are largely ignored, and I can’t help feeling this strays a little too close to borrowing, not only from Potter, but also the tropes of much Harry/Draco fanfiction, for a profit-making work. It is possible I am getting used to the surprise of finding true-to-life characters, and lines which perfectly match some of my unfinished thoughts, which are Rowell’s consistent feature. Here, perhaps, that consistency comes at the expense of daring originality. Carry On left me warm, content, and often laughing, but I’m unlikely to reread.
“Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.”
“I know Simon and I will always be enemies..
But I thought maybe we’d get to a point where we didn’t want to be.”