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 must have been so shocked by the ending of this book that I was pondering it so much that I forgot to write a review and put it on my goodreads list, not sure how that happened, but I’m going to take it as a good sign.
The School for Good & Evil is one of those books that impacts you on so many levels. It’s a fairy tale at it’s heart, but it looks at bullying and self image and self worth and so many other thing that children and adults struggle with on a daily basis in a very approachable and not preachy because it just first with the story and you realize after you’ve finished how much it’s impacted you. The basic story is that two girls who are unlikely friends, and friends my be putting it to strongly, but I’ll let you anilyze their relationship when you read it, from this little town of Gavaldon both get “kidnapped” and taken to the School for Good and Evil. This “kidnapping” is an annul event for the town since it started 200 years before and it’s always one good and one evil child that’s taken. This year though, things are turned on their heads a bit when the presumed Good, Sophie (the blond on the cover), and the presumed Evil, Agatha (the brunette on the cover), are sent to the opposite houses. And this is where the fun begins.
The School for Good and Evil follows Agatha and Sophie through their first year at the school and comes to a kind of shocking, yet awesome conclusion. The story is full of heart, action and even a tinny bit of romance (it’s middle grade, but you have to have a cute prince in a fairy tale!) that’s perfect for readers of all ages and it’s why I picked it as one of my favorite books of 2013.
|Photo collage of some of
I experienced the book as an audiobook, which is amazingly well done. One narrator, Polly Lee, who has narrated several Shakespeare plays, does the entire book, and has to do several different voices since the book is told in 3rd person. It’s an outstanding way to enjoy this story. But with that said, I also had to buy a physical copy because it’s amazingly well illustrated! Iacopo Bruno did all the illustrations for the book, including the cover and the map at the front of the book (click HERE to view the map). Each chapter gets an awesome little drawing that depicts something important in the chapter. They are beautiful and dark and whimsical all at the same time. After flipping through the book I knew the audiobook wouldn’t be enough, I had to own a physical copy as well.
This is a wonderful book to experience it in all it’s published forms and as a family or an individual. I love books that work in may ways and it’s sometimes hard to find them in the sea of all the books published, but this is a total gem and I’m very excited to share it with you!
We have a fun bonus for you from Soman – This is a scene from Chapter 24, after Agatha’s had her big awakening with Professor Dovey that was cut from the final version of the book, but if Soman could do it over again, he would have kept this scene in. We hope you enjoy!
For all the spells taught at the School for Good and Evil, Agatha had found something more powerful in a smile. Overnight the snooty looks and snide barbs ceased, replaced by slack-jawed stares, baffled whispers, and girls trying to mimic her magical beam. Soon Agatha saw she too had been bewitched. For it was on her way to classes one day that she caught herself looking forward to them.
The other changes came just as slyly. She noticed she didn’t dread taking a shower now or spending a few minutes to brush her hair, iron her uniform, or polish her clumps. She listened to Professor Dovey’s lecture on ‘Why Beauties Must Save Beasts’ and didn’t blush once at the word ‘Beast’. She got so caught up in Ball dance rehearsals she jumped when the wolves howled to end class. And where she once did her Good homework practically holding her nose, now it felt like food to her soul.
Curled up in the Library of Virtue, she read in The Joy of Courtly Love that princes might flirt with the most beautiful girls in the room, but ultimately they chose a ‘soulmatch’ — a girl precisely as pure or impure as them. Over the years this word lost favor as too fixed and was replaced with ‘true love,’ so princes could believe they had free will to find their mate. In fact, Agatha learned in History that the first Balls began because Kings and Queens didn’t trust their sons’ with this will. To test him, they held formal dances called ‘Hundreds’ that they filled with 99 girls of their choice and 1 girl who was their son’s pure soulmatch. In the end, whether the girl was rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, the prince found this hidden jewel every time. Entranced by these trials of Goodness, Agatha would stay up after curfew, candle to Princess with a Purpose, reading of heroines who cut off fingers to save birds, scarred their face rather than marry a depraved king, and sacrificed their lives for true love. As she drunk in these tales, so rich with feeling and mission, she felt the once potent allure of Evil dissipate and die.
Suddenly her life was full without Sophie. With Kiko stressed over whether Tristan would propose, Agatha distracted her with walks along the lakes, and midnight steals into the Groom Room. The more time Agatha spent with her, the more she realized Kiko wasn’t stupid — she just covered insecurity with babble and gossip, like Agatha had covered hers with scowls and solitude. How many other girls at this school had she shortchanged? Sure, Beatrix and her fawns were awful as usual (“I heard she got a new nose,” Beatrix swore), but in the Supper Hall, Agatha looked around at tables of girls — Mia, Therese, Marcela, Nicoline, Carmen — she’d assumed were the same. But now she smiled at them and won a smile back, as if they’d just been waiting for her to give them a chance. Even the boys stopped leering at her. Like monkeys at a zoo, they reflected the face you gave them.
Lying in bed, Agatha looked out at fairies deck the Blue Forest with starry lanterns for the Ball. It was beautiful, really, what Good could do. She wouldn’t have been able to admit that a few weeks ago. But somehow this School, that once embodied everything Evil to her, now felt like home. Agatha thought of her room in Gavaldon and couldn’t remember how it smelled. She couldn’t remember which side of her mother’s face had the hairy brown mole. She couldn’t even remember which of Reaper’s eyes was black and which was gray…
Before she knew it, the Ball was only two days away.
(Soman Chainani holds the copy write to the above deleted scene text and is used with his permission.)