The School for Good & Evil

★★★★/ 5

Title: The School for Good & Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Genre:  Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fairy Tales
Buy Links: Amazon, Booktopia, Book Depository

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.

I picked this book up last week at the Scholastic book fair and it didn’t take long for it to reach the top of my TBR pile. I’ve seen a few people review this book in the past and it looked right up my alley, so I thought I’d start with the first book in this series before I bought the remaining three.

The School for Good & Evil is a middle-grade book and it read like most books written for a pre-teen audience. The themes are very black and white regarding their stance on what is classified as good and what is evil. It wasn’t until the end of the book that Chainani hints that there be some shades of grey in the world after all (no – not that kind of shades of grey, the metaphorical kind!). As a middle-grade book, it’s an enjoyable read and I would recommend it anyone who has Tweens that love fairy tales or fantasy books. Chainani’s writing style is fluid and easy to read, with an excellent execution of tension that makes The School for Good & Evil an entertaining and enjoyable experience.

For an older reader like myself, the only problem I found was that there were a few themes that were a bit on the nose. With suggestions that only boys can hunt and kill things, while a girl’s role is to look pretty and play with cute animals was a bit much for me – but if you can overlook those sections it’s a good tale.

Overall I liked the book and I really got in to it half way through. I’m even tempted to buy the next book in order to find out what happens to the books characters, Agatha and Sophie.

If you enjoy books about magical schools like Harry Potter and you like fairy tales were good versus evil, than you will love The School for Good & Evil.

What are some of your favorite fairy tales? Let me know in the comments what school you would you be sorted into?