Author: Soman Chainani
Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
For years, children have been disappearing from the village of Gavaldon only to appear later in the storybooks as fairy-tale princesses and princes, witches and monsters–snatched from their homes to enter the School for Good and Evil. Most do their best to avoid being taken, but Sophie is different; she seems the ideal princess, and she’s determined to get into the school and become a princess in fact. She’s sure her best friend Agatha will get taken as well–to be a witch–she’s certainly got the looks and personality for it, plus she lives in a graveyard! But when the two girls do get taken to the School for Good and Evil, it seems everything goes wrong as Agatha is placed in the School for Good to become a princess (and it’s immediately clear she doesn’t fit there at all!) and Sophie is dumped straight in the School for Evil (which she thinks is, in no uncertain terms, a dump itself and no fit place for a pretty girl like her). The two must struggle to survive–and if possible escape (Agatha’s idea) or switch places (Sophie’s). But will their friendship survive the trials of their situation . . . and was their placement perhaps not such as big mistake as they thought?
I found The School for Good and Evil to be a completely engrossing story from the captivating cover through the final, unexpected plot twists. I think if J. K. Rowling and Gregory Maguire wrote a book together, it might turn out something like this wonderful book. The characters are amazing, and the best part is that they grow and change throughout the story–often in ways that surprise themselves! The setting and concepts are novel, credible, and fanciful enough to be truly fascinating. And the plot itself is a gripping blend of adventure, dark humor, enigma, and pathos. I would highly recommend The School for Good and Evil to anyone upper elementary and older who enjoys a good fantasy, especially if you’ve a taste for a slightly darker, more mysterious tale.