By Cynthia Bujnicki
Cynthia is done with demons…mostly. She still has that bargain with the demon queen and Peter, well, Peter is different, he is her friend and only wants to make it onto Broadway on his talent. So Cynthia is determined to have a demon-free, fun senior year at high school with her amazing friends and her amazing boyfriend. The fall musical is going to Les Misérables, and it could not be more perfect. That is until someone mishandles the essence of the vile, evil, Mr. Gabriel, who still wants Annie and wants Cynthia to suffer unimaginable pain. Cynthia may be done with demons, but they are not done with her.
What a delightfully good book. This series has come a long way since it is conception and it has done so in such a fantastic way. There are still demons, and the cast of characters, while expanding, also makes sure to highlight and give more depth to the characters all around. That added characterization is what makes the novel so incredibly delightful, and why it continues to be so captivating.
Following Cynthia (fantastic name) who has entered her senior of high school, she is determined to have an excellent [mostly] demon free year. However, of course, given the title, readers are going to see a reappearance of Mr. Gabriel. The way Knudsen continues to bring him back in unique and terrifying ways is incredible. He is the villain who will not stay dead, and it works. It does not come off as redundant or tedious; it has the vitality to it and continues to have this air of creativity and uniqueness to it. This is part of what makes this series so good and a big reason as to why this conclusion is so good.
The story continues to be fresh, that is key here because it has evolved so much from the first novel. Key elements tie this novel in with the previous novels, but here, the adventure of these characters expands. Cynthia and her friends are now bringing the fight to the demons who threaten them, opening an entirely new avenue to be explored by the reader and the storyteller. It adds that tension and builds upon the tension created in the previous novels. Curse of the Evil Librarian ultimately amazingly brings the story full-circle.
There is also well-rounded character development. In Revenge of the Evil Librarian readers got to see more of Ryan, his personality got to shine, but here, Annie gets the chance to shine. She becomes more than just Cyn’s friend who needs to be protected; she becomes a full-fledged and flushed out character in her own right. The dynamics that play in the novel are incredibly well structured, their voices, especially Cyn’s, make the novel so enjoyable because these characters, they play off each other, they develop and learn through the actions and reactions of others. Their powerful voices make them relatable and make the reader love them because they are growing; they are realizing their mistakes and growing from them.
Knudsen writes her story much like a delightful play in the way the characters play off each other, and it works so well in making this novel, let alone this series, such an enjoyable read. (★★★★★)