“The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.”
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?
The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.
As a lover of fairy tales, The School for Good and Evil was on my radar for a long time prior to its release. I was definitely looking forward to this twist on your usual fairy tales, and loved the idea of a school that actually trained its heroes/heroines and villains to be like the famous characters from the stories we all know and love. I also liked the idea that Sophie and Agatha would go through some sort of awakening in terms of coming to understand who and what they are, and what that meant for them. Overall, I definitely found this book to live up to my expectations and hopes, even if it did take me a stupidly long time to get it read from beginning to end.
What was interesting about this book was just how cut and dried some of these fairy tales are. Things like what makes the characters who they were – think Rapunzel, Snow White, Cinderella, etc. – and why they succeeded where evil did not were drawn out in such a way to further explain the dynamics of the story, particularly with the introduction of the Storian and the schools. While this book definitely had its tropes – and in most cases, didn’t really turn them on their heads – I still enjoyed this sort of “behind the scenes” look into why good triumphs over evil and how Agatha and Sophie – and the others in the book – all fit into that scheme. I especially liked the self-discovery both girls undergo and how they came out in the end; while there were lots of surprises and twists and turns and back and forth drama, I overall was mostly pleased with their growth. It was especially interesting to see how the idea of how you perceive yourself versus how others perceive you can have so much influence on a person, and it was this that I found to be the strongest thread running throughout the story.
While perhaps a bit overly long, particularly in the middle of the book, I still very much enjoyed every aspect of The School for Good and Evil. I have a little bit of a quibble with the idea that a girl can’t have her prince and her friend at the same time – and think the sequel is likewise going to have this issue – but the journeys the girls go on, the trials and tribulations they face, and the way the drama was stretched out and described were all first-rate. This very much reads like a fairy tale, but is definitely not your usual fare, which was wonderful to see. I loved Agatha especially, and can’t wait to see more of her in the sequel!
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.