Review | The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

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.

3.5 cupcakes

The School for Good and Evil would make an excellent movie. It has an original premise and vivid descriptions, and also deconstructs fairytale tropes in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. It’s adorable, creative, and (surprisingly) quite dark at times, so I could easily visualize it as a cross between Shrek and Into the Woods, if it were to get the Disney treatment.

One of the things that I loved the most about The School for Good and Evil was its underlying messages. No one is inherently good or bad. You don’t have to live up to others’ expectations or society’s ideals. The School for Good and Evil also made mention of how looks aren’t everything, and that it’s the choices we make and what’s on the inside that truly count. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as though this last message was as effectively presented – which is unfortunate, given that it’s truly important.

Our main characters, Agatha and Sophie, were the perfect foil for one another. Agatha was quite easy to sympathize with and root for, but Sophie was less likeable. That being said, I absolutely loved the character arc that Sophie went on – especially once she realized how truly important her friendship with Agatha was.

Overall, The School for Good and Evil was creative, entertaining, and filled with so many excellent messages. I’m excited to see where Agatha and Sophie’s tale goes next!

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