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…?
I’ve been reading more middle grade books lately and enjoying them for their action based plots and lack of romance. I was excited to begin The School for Good and Evil because I’ve seen many mentions of this book in the blogosphere. I love the cover and overall I found this to be a highly enjoyable book. I will say that there were some glaring issues that I had all of which have to do with how the book was ended. Because of that I can’t really go into the details but I felt that Chainani missed an opportunity to delve deeper into what makes someone good or bad and if people are ever really just one or the other. Since this is a series, I’m optimistic these themes will be looked at further in the follow-ups.
I felt that the world building was strong, especially in the beginning. I loved how clear the descriptions were and how easily I could picture the world and characters. I felt things were set up clearly and the pacing was fairly fast. I will say that at some point the pacing did slow down but I was never bored. I enjoyed the reading about the dynamics of the school and the different classes the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ kids took. Everyone was used to people falling into either good or evil leaving no one in the middle. I thought it was fun to imagine a world set up like this and how it would look if a school were to teach fairy tale characters how to live their story.
Our two main characters both grew and developed as the story progressed and I enjoyed watching their dynamics change. They impacted those around them and I found it entertaining to read about how they changed the secondary characters. Overall I felt that aspects were fairly predictable but this was expected in a middle grade book. Where this book shined to me was in the friendship between Agatha and Sophie. I loved how things were never clear-cut between them but they were able to work through things and grow together. I felt that this was the heart of the story and I really enjoyed reading about them.
The School for Good and Evil was a story of friendship at its core. I loved the vivid details and imaginative world building Chainani created. His mix of typical fairly tale lore with his own creativity was delightful and fun to read. Though I felt that the ending was the weakest aspect of the book I am still incredibly eager to read the next in the series.
The School for Good and Evil Book Trailer:
A World Without Princes (book 2) Trailer: