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.
Okay, so I know that I’m like, what 4 years late to this party, but I picked up this book during my finals week (a time of great anxiety and despair for several reasons, school and otherwise) and seriously this book saved my butt. I was so stressed out, and listening to this audiobook helped me push through all the existential dread that I was experiencing. This series could easily become one of my new all time favorites–and no surprise that it’s a middle school series, honestly (insider tip: all the best books are middle school novels).
So to begin, this series has the most lovely tone I have ever read. It was so fresh and un-fantasy-esque and I could not put it down. As I have mentioned before, I love fantasy novels, but am frequently turned off by the heavy word-building and tone of the genre. This series had all the fairy tale lightness that I could dream of, paired with the most compelling drama and moral issues. Like, seriously, it has been a long time since I’ve read something with such compelling moral issues.
The question of “what determines good and evil” was very prevalent for the entire plot. However, the two main girls really bring this question to light in the most fascinating way. I had MAJOR opinions on this, and I think the lessons it was teaching are really pertinent to our culture and the way popularity and beauty are glorified. At the time I read this, I was (unintentionally) a part of some heart wrenching mean girl drama (*tinyviolinsplaying*), and this story was a great way to see disassociate from the situation with metaphors, and see how silly it all was (I actually just did a whole research project on this, and presented at a conference, so hit me up if you want to discuss the importance of metaphors). Like, honestly, the way they dealt with the ideas of good and evil and just AGH this is the kind of literature and discourse the tween world is in dire need for. Don’t even get me started.
Okay, also, I LOVE CROSSOVERS. This story had Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty, EVERY FAIRY TALE OR CLASSIC NOVEL EVER mentioned within its pages. I love crossovers; as soon as I realized there were all of these characters and it was written so well, I was sold. The fact it was actually well written, and compelling was just a bonus.
I adored this! I cannot recommend this series enough. Plus, it’s a MS novel, so it is appropriate for almost every age!
4.5 out of 5.