Authors: Rainbow Rowell
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For Jennifer, who always had an extra lightsaber
FALL SEMESTER, 2011
The Simon Snow Series
From Encyclowikia, the people’s encyclopedia
This article is about the children’s book series. For other uses, see
Simon Snow (disambiguation).
is a series of seven fantasy books written by English philologist Gemma T. Leslie. The books tell the story of Simon Snow, an 11-year-old orphan from Lancashire who is recruited to attend the Watford School of Magicks to become a magician. As he grows older, Simon joins a group of magicians—the Mages—who are fighting the Insidious Humdrum, an evil being trying to rid the world of magic.
Since the publication of
Simon Snow and the Mage’s Heir
in 2001, the books have been translated into 53 languages and, as of August 2011, have sold more than 380 million copies.
Leslie has been criticized for the violence in the series and for creating a hero who is sometimes selfish and bad tempered. An exorcism scene in the fourth book,
Simon Snow and the Selkies Four,
triggered boycotts among American Christian groups in 2008. But the books are widely considered modern classics, and in 2010,
magazine called Simon “the greatest children’s literary character since Huckleberry Finn.”
An eighth book, the last in the series, is set to be released May 1, 2012.
Simon Snow and the Mage’s Heir,
Simon Snow and the Second Serpent,
Simon Snow and the Third Gate,
Simon Snow and the Selkies Four,
Simon Snow and the Five Blades,
Simon Snow and the Six White Hares,
Simon Snow and the Seventh Oak,
Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance,
scheduled to be released May 1, 2012
There was a boy in her room.
Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand.
Pound Hall, 913.
This was definitely room 913, but maybe it wasn’t Pound Hall—all these dormitories looked alike, like public housing towers for the elderly. Maybe Cath should try to catch her dad before he brought up the rest of her boxes.
“You must be Cather,” the boy said, grinning and holding out his hand.
“Cath,” she said, feeling a panicky jump in her stomach. She ignored his hand. (She was holding a box anyway, what did he expect from her?)
This was a mistake—this had to be a mistake. She knew that Pound was a co-ed dorm.…
Is there such a thing as co-ed
The boy took the box out of her hands and set it on an empty bed. The bed on the other side of the room was already covered with clothes and boxes.
“Do you have more stuff downstairs?” he asked. “We just finished. I think we’re going to get a burger now; do you want to get a burger? Have you been to Pear’s yet? Burgers the size of your fist.” He picked up her arm. She swallowed. “Make a fist,” he said.
than your fist,” the boy said, dropping her hand and picking up the backpack she’d left outside the door. “Do you have more boxes? You’ve got to have more boxes. Are you hungry?”
He was tall and thin and tan, and he looked like he’d just taken off a stocking cap, dark blond hair flopping in every direction. Cath looked down at her room assignment again. Was this
“Reagan!” the boy said happily. “Look, your roommate’s here.”
A girl stepped around Cath in the doorway and glanced back coolly. She had smooth, auburn hair and an unlit cigarette in her mouth. The boy grabbed it and put it in his own mouth. “Reagan, Cather. Cather, Reagan,” he said.
“Cath,” Cath said.
Reagan nodded and fished in her purse for another cigarette. “I took this side,” she said, nodding to the pile of boxes on the right side of the room. “But it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got feng shui issues, feel free to move my shit.” She turned to the boy. “Ready?”
He turned to Cath. “Coming?”
Cath shook her head.
When the door shut behind them, she sat on the bare mattress that was apparently hers—feng shui was the least of her issues—and laid her head against the cinder block wall.
She just needed to settle her nerves.
To take the anxiety she felt like black static behind her eyes and an extra heart in her throat, and shove it all back down to her stomach where it belonged—where she could at least tie it into a nice knot and work around it.
Her dad and Wren would be up any minute, and Cath didn’t want them to know she was about to melt down. If Cath melted down, her dad would melt down. And if
of them melted down, Wren would act like they were doing it on purpose, just to ruin her perfect first day on campus. Her beautiful new adventure.
You’re going to thank me for this,
Wren kept saying.
The first time she’d said it was back in June.
Cath had already sent in her university housing forms, and of course she’d put Wren down as her roommate—she hadn’t thought twice about it. The two of them had shared a room for eighteen years, why stop now?
“We’ve shared a room for
” Wren argued. She was sitting at the head of Cath’s bed, wearing her infuriating I’m the Mature One face.
“And it’s worked out great,” Cath said, waving her arm around their bedroom—at the stacks of books and the Simon Snow posters, at the closet where they shoved all their clothes, not even worrying most of the time what belonged to whom.
Cath was sitting at the foot of the bed, trying not to look like the Pathetic One Who Always Cries.
“This is college,” Wren persisted. “The whole point of college is meeting new people.”
“The whole point of having a twin sister,” Cath said, “is not having to worry about this sort of thing. Freaky strangers who steal your tampons and smell like salad dressing and take cell phone photos of you while you sleep…”
Wren sighed. “What are you even talking about? Why would anybody smell like salad dressing?”
“Like vinegar,” Cath said. “Remember when we went on the freshman tour, and that one girl’s room smelled like Italian dressing?”
“Well, it was gross.”
“It’s college,” Wren said, exasperated, covering her face with her hands. “It’s supposed to be an
“It’s already an adventure.” Cath crawled up next to her sister and pulled Wren’s hands away from her face. “The whole prospect is already terrifying.”
“We’re supposed to meet new people,” Wren repeated.
“I don’t need new people.”
“That just shows how much you need new people.…” Wren squeezed Cath’s hands. “Cath, think about it. If we do this together, people will treat us like we’re the same person. It’ll be four years before anyone can even tell us apart.”
“All they have to do is pay attention.” Cath touched the scar on Wren’s chin, just below her lip. (Sledding accident. They were nine, and Wren was on the front of the sled when it hit the tree. Cath had fallen off the back into the snow.)
“You know I’m right,” Wren said.
Cath shook her head. “I don’t.”
“Please don’t make me do this alone.”
“You’re never alone,” Wren said, sighing again. “That’s the whole fucking point of having a twin sister.”
* * *
“This is really nice,” their dad said, looking around Pound 913 and setting a laundry basket full of shoes and books on Cath’s mattress.
“It’s not nice, Dad,” Cath said, standing stiffly by the door. “It’s like a hospital room, but smaller. And without a TV.”
“You’ve got a great view of campus,” he said.
Wren wandered over to the window. “My room faces a parking lot.”
“How do you know?” Cath asked.
Wren couldn’t wait for all this college stuff to start. She and her roommate—
—had been talking for weeks. Courtney was from Omaha, too. The two of them had already met and gone shopping for dorm-room stuff together. Cath had tagged along and tried not to pout while they picked out posters and matching desk lamps.
Cath’s dad came back from the window and put an arm around her shoulders. “It’s gonna be okay,” he said.
She nodded. “I know.”
“Okay,” he said, clapping. “Next stop, Schramm Hall. Second stop, pizza buffet. Third stop, my sad and empty nest.”
“No pizza,” Wren said. “Sorry, Dad. Courtney and I are going to the freshman barbecue tonight.” She shot her eyes at Cath. “Cath should go, too.”
pizza,” Cath said defiantly.
Her dad smiled. “Your sister’s right, Cath. You should go. Meet new people.”
“All I’m going to do for the next nine months is meet new people. Today I choose pizza buffet.”
Wren rolled her eyes.
“All right,” their dad said, patting Cath on the shoulder. “Next stop, Schramm Hall. Ladies?” He opened the door.
Cath didn’t move. “You can come back for me after you drop her off,” she said, watching her sister. “I want to start unpacking.”
Wren didn’t argue, just stepped out into the hall. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” she said, not quite turning to look at Cath.
“Sure,” Cath said.
* * *
It did feel good, unpacking. Putting sheets on the bed and setting her new, ridiculously expensive textbooks out on the shelves over her new desk.
When her dad came back, they walked together to Valentino’s. Everyone they saw along the way was about Cath’s age. It was creepy.
“Why is everybody blond?” Cath asked. “And why are they all white?”
Her dad laughed. “You’re just used to living in the least-white neighborhood in Nebraska.”
Their house in South Omaha was in a Mexican neighborhood. Cath’s was the only white family on the block.
“Oh, God,” she said, “do you think this town has a taco truck?”
“I think I saw a Chipotle—”
“Come on,” he said, “you like Chipotle.”
“Not the point.”
When they got to Valentino’s, it was packed with students. A few, like Cath, had come with their parents, but not many. “It’s like a science fiction story,” she said, “No little kids … Nobody over thirty … Where are all the old people?”