Book Review: The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Goodreads Description: “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…?
My Review: I was first attracted to the SCHOOL OF GOOD AND EVIL by its beautiful cover. I try to avoid judging based on cover, but I loved the artist's rendition of the characters and the schools. I'm a sucker for good artwork. From the first page I was swept off my feet by the lively and loveable characters. Right away I could see that Sophie was not the bleeding heart she said she was, and Agatha was more than a dreary, cemetery-bound spook. I loved that from the moment I met the characters, their truer nature shone through in their actions. Agatha and Sophie are so well constructed-- their motives are clear and fuel their every action.
The thing that made me really love this book was Sophie. It's so rare that we get to see the evolution of a villain like we would a hero. Though I know I would hate Sophie in real life, her every action is justified in her own mind and she truly believes in what she is doing, which makes her an amazing villain. She is not evil for evil's sake, in her own mind, she isn't even a villain, which makes her one of my favourite characters.
If you're not swayed by compelling, dynamic characters that evolve through their journey, then you will love this book's fairy tale world. The world is incredible, and each little detail brought the schools to life and made them just as much characters as Agatha or Sophie. Right down to the fairy tale punishments, I couldn't get enough of the world building.
The book is definitely a stand alone, but at the same time the end leaves you aching for more. I could not recommend this book enough. It's perfect for your little princess or the fairy tale lover who never stopped slaying dragons and saving the world. The writing is complex enough for children and simple enough for adults. A win all across the board.
TL;DR: 5/5 Stars. A must read!
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