The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani – For a debut, I am WOWed.

School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniUnlikely best friends, Sophie and Agatha, test their level of friendship as they are whisked away to the School for Good and Evil, where failing your fairy tale is not an option.   Sophie, the embodiment of all things good, finds herself dumped in the School of Evil while Agatha, the dark and broody, is placed in the School for Good.  Clearly there’s been a mistake, right?  But when the going gets tough, their journey exposes who they really are and all may not be what it seems.

I could say this was one of my top 3 reads of the year thus far.  Though the story is categorized as middle grade, I thought it touched on a few mature themes here and there and could have been placed into the Young Adult category.  It’s certainly impressive when that group is reading 500-page novels.  Though lengthy it’s at least an easy read, which is to be expected, but it’s still very engaging and well-written for the most part.  I think the youth and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy it.

I loved how it took the lore and stereotypes of past fairy tales and pretty much turned everything on its head.  The book even includes some great underlying messages, so it’s clear that the author did quite a bit of homework.  There is a lot of character development for both girls, and I appreciated the gradual process.   The POVs switched between the two throughout the novel.  I think I preferred Agatha’s POV and thought process, but Sophie’s POV served its purpose as well.

I wasn’t crazy about the ending.  That was probably the one area where I believe it deviated from the formula and not in a satisfying way (for me at least), but the rest of the book is very strong.

Though I’ve only seen an episode of the show Once Upon a Time (I’ll get around to more eventually), I feel like this type of book would appeal to those fans.  I highly recommend this entertaining and fresh take on what it means to be a fairy tale.   What most surprised me was how this appears to be Soman Chainani’s debut novel.  This might be the beginnings of a new series, but the work as a whole could be a standalone.  If this is a sign of things to come, I will certainly make sure I follow this author’s future works!

*ARC Provided by the publisher.

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