Author: Soman Chainani
Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sophie and Agatha have gotten their happy ending, returning home together, best friends always. But is that enough . . . ? When a stray wish drags them back into their fairy tale, these two friends must confront that question–as well as each other and the secrets they’ve kept hidden. Not to mention the unmentionable mess their original fairy tale ending has made to the School of Good and Evil! Is such a thing as “happily ever after” even still a possibility in these circumstances?
I really enjoyed the first volume in this series and was very much looking forward to reading A World Without Princes. I think it was a solid sequel, maintaining the essential flavor of Sophie’s and Agatha’s world while at the same time building, becoming darker. The writing itself is excellent, although I personally found the first bit slightly clunky (that could have been me, though). In any case, it smoothed out beautifully once they returned to the school and maintained that standard throughout. What stands out I think the most about this story is just how bad things can get when you choose to keep secrets and harbor doubts about people you’re supposed to trust–again this story is pretty dark (and, not to spoil anything, but I really don’t like the ending). I will note that, if you look at it out of context, it could have weird shoujou ai or feminist (or maybe anti-feminist?) commentaries running beneath the main meaning . . . but I really don’t think that’s the actual intention, just an unfortunate coincidence. On the plus side, I feel like there’s going to be a third volume; this one feels incomplete. I think a follow-up volume will clear a lot of things up that are kind of left muddy here. On the whole, I think A World Without Princes would be an enjoyable and intense read for pre-teen and early teen readers who enjoyed the first volume of this series (and yes, also for older readers who like the first volume, of course).