Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

May 15, 2013 5 stars, Book Review, Young Adult 14 ★★★★★

Prepare for a breaking of the heart, twisting of the spirit and warping of any illusions you have about Good and Evil!

The School for Good and Evil

At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon 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 among 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 and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

The School for Good and Evil, it sounds like a light breezy read doesn’t it? What it really is *flabbergasted for the right word* is well, downright MAGNIFICENT! I haven’t loved a book so much in a very long time, and I devour books like a maniac. It literally went above and beyond any expectation I could have conceived for it. I picked it up thinking: “This will be quite the fluffy fairytale,” but was blown away because it was nothing of the kind.

Lets begin with the description: I love that it tells you exactly what The School for Good and Evil is about without giving away even an inkling of just how this tale is going to be delivered. This is a book that can definitely be enjoyed by fairy tale lovers of all ages. Especially if you don’t mind your fairy tales having a bit of a dark side. Not too dark mind you but just the right amount. Yes, JUST RIGHT!!

There are wonderful comic moments, that I couldn’t help but smirk at. I felt like the author was making fun of so many things and it tickled me pink to no end. However, there are also some moments that tightened my chest and throat. You know what I’m talking about, that’s right when you are biting back the tears. I’m not normally a crier…I’m a laugh-er. So, I don’t think I can explain well enough why this book touched me so much. Also, it is full of beautiful illustrations! At least one for the start of each chapter. These added the perfect storybook touch.

What surprised and absolutely delighted me was how much I loved all of the characters. I grew attached to all of them! From main, to sidekicks, to little supplemental characters. They were all given realism and depth of character that made each unique and memorable. My favorite is Hort…you’ll hear me gush about him again. *smirk*

I was captured immediately by the wry sense of humor one of the main characters Agatha possessed. She looks like your typical fairy tale witch but somehow ends up in the School for Good! As you can see from the quote below. She is a snappy girl and I couldn’t help but love her.

This is box title
“Graveyards have their benefits,” Agatha said. “No nosy neighbors. No drop-in salesmen. No fishy ‘friends’ bearing face masks and diet cookies, telling you you’re going to Evil School in Magic Fairy Land.”

Soman Chainani writes characters that we can see reflected back in ourselves. These are the children that we once were, or hey for those young readers, perhaps who they still are. I think he was delving deep trying to get his readers to challenge those childhood tropes of Good and Evil. Are you beautiful with flawless skin and impeccable clothes? Are you ugly with warts and foul body odor? Does eating lots of sweets really lead you down a road of sin and temptation? Well shucks folks, I MUST be Evil because I’m a total greedy gobbler!

Prepare yourself for the “Evers” and the “Nevers” – that’s what these kids call themselves, for that’s how their stories go. But onto my favorite character Hort, of course he is a “Never,” attending the School for Evil. He was such a sad pathetic looking little guy, but he was excitable and friendly and hey he was Evil right, but he wasn’t – so what is he? This quote is when I first met him – and the little girl in me that loves the underdog had high hopes for him.

This is box title
He looked like a sinister little weasel.

“The bird ate my shirt,” he said. “Can I touch your hair?” Sophie backed up.

“They don’t usually make villains with princess hair,” he said, dog-paddling towards her.”

Then in unexpected moments my heart would break…and frequently it was Hort that would do this to me.

This is box title
“Dad told me villains can’t love. That it’s unnatural and disgusting.”

“So I definitely can’t love,” Hort said.

“But if I could love, I’d love you.”

If that isn’t sad…unrequited love, then blast I don’t know what is!

Agatha sums up the best element of this tale for me and precisely how I feel about villains! They are a major part of what makes a story worth reading. Often I feel like some authors treat them just as a way to make the good guy look better or “grow” into that strong character that the reader wants to love. But me? I’m usually secretly rooting for the bad guy.

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“She had always found villains more exciting than heroes. They had ambition, passion. They made the stories happen. Villains didn’t fear death. No, they wrapped themselves in death like suits of armor! As she inhaled the school’s graveyard smell, Agatha felt her blood rush. For like all villains, death didn’t scare her. It made her feel alive.” ​​

The School for Good and Evil captures the true spirit of the human heart in so many ways that I was laughing, cringing, weeping and just dying to get to the end to know how this fairy tale would end. And now?…now I’m so sad that it’s over.​ I know this book will become a hearthstone in my library, one that I will read my own child when he gets older and that I will return to time and again.

So consider this readers…

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What’s the one thing Evil can never have…and the one thing Good can never do without?

P.S. There is already a film being planned for 2015! *squees in utter joy and runs off before I keep up with the spewings of love*

Watch the AWESOME freaking book trailer!!

The Playlist I made on Spotify to go with the book!!

The School for Good and Evil

Find: Amazon | Book Depository | Indiebound |Goodreads
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*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! No worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. Cover art displayed courtesy of the publisher. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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14 Responses to “Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani”

  1. Ivana

    This sounds perfect! Reading your review made me wildly excited about reading it. The quotes really touched me. And I adore the quote about villains, mostly I’m drawn to villains because they’re so passionate.
    Excellent review!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Good! I’m glad – because I’ve been wildly excited about it ever since I started reading it. Now that I’m done I’m pushing it on all my friends. Especially the ones that read but don’t read voraciously. I’ve already bought a copy this morning for one friend’s birthday *evil laughter*

  2. [email protected]

    Fairytales: love them.
    Dark approach on fairytales: love them even more!

    And illustations! I thought this book couldn’t sound any better (since I’m a fairytale geek), but this makes me even more excited. I really like illustrations <3 And snarky characters are the best. Ahhhhh, I need it!

  3. kimbacaffeinate

    This sounds so delightful, is it MG? I would definitely attend the School of Evil since I hoarde coffee! Awesome review and so glad you enjoyed this!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes, it’s considered middle grade but it didn’t feel like it at all to me. I loved it so much! I’m working on making a GINORMOUS playlist to go with it…I’ve been obsessed with it all night and day today lol.

  4. [email protected],Sweat and Books

    Once I saw that you rated it as magnificent I was so happy. The trailer for this was amazing and really set the bar high for how I hoped the book would turn out. Your review gives me hope!!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Good! I hope you read it soon and love it! I can’t wait to get my hands on the hardcover copy to see the new illustrations! Plus there are at least five more pages according to the author. I will probably read it again this year…AND listen to the audio book – thats how much I loved it! LOL

  5. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Oh wow, I’ve not seen any reviews of this one yet, and I’m glad to hear it was such a hit with you. The book trailer was badass. I have the audio coming up soon in my queue and I hope it’s awesome!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes – it was totally radness all in my face! haha. I can not wait for the movie. I loved it so much I’m going to re-read the hardcover edition this year AND listen to the audio book. I even made a freaking sweet playlist to go with it! I should update my post and add it! lol

  6. Bookworm1858

    I love your enthusiastic response! This book was a winner for me too. I did not know there was going to be a film. I hope it’s animated-I feel like fairy tales work best in animation.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Oh I’m so glad you liked it too! Soman said that it is going to be CGI, I don’t know if that means fully or if they are mixing that with live action since I’ve seen that style if film also. I hope it’s fully CGI. I wool have to find out! I prefer fairy tales animated or CGI also!

  7. Nina @ Death Books and Tea

    Fairy tales with a dark side? Definitely up my street. Agatha seems like the kind of person I’d be great friends with-thosequotes really make me want to get hold of this some time soon. Thanks for the review!