The School for Good and Evil
Soman Chainani

Harper Collins
Hardcover/400 pages
ISBN: 978-0062104892
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"‘Once Upon a Time’ is THE place to be!"

Although many have tried, no writer has quite been able to reach the ‘top rung’ on the ladder when it comes to the ‘best’ in tween fantasy (top spot being held by Harry Potter)…until now. This is a fairytale/adventure/thriller/fantasy with humor and characters readers will never forget, and everyone from tweens to adults will want to walk in this world!

The very first page offers us a letter – an invitation from ‘The School of Good and Evil.’ Here, professors teach girls and boys who’ll one day be the heroine or Prince Charming of the next beloved fairytale; AND the girls and boys who will one day be the evil masters of all they survey. Cinderella, Snow White – ALL the goodies learned at this school; and on the other side of the ‘moat,’ at the dark, icky castle, the famous wicked queens, witches and wizards everyone feared (and the ones who usually lost) learned their trade.

Sophie lives in Gavaldon. Every year in this tiny village – on one special night – two children are kidnapped from their beds and taken to the magical school. Sophie has waited forever, primping her hair, making sure her pink wardrobe is up-to-date and doing ‘good’ deeds, so she’ll be chosen for the school. And, BOY, does she want to find that handsome prince! So when the other kids in town are locking their doors in fear, Sophie throws open her window, packs her bags and waits impatiently for her fairytale future to begin.

One of the ‘good deeds’ Sophie did, by the way, was to befriend a young girl who lives in a cemetery. Her name is Agatha. She’s the loner who wears all black and has that sarcastic attitude – and, she’s hysterical. Even though Sophie annoys her to death, Agatha has become her best friend and doesn’t want to see anything bad happen to her.

Yes, they are the two who end up leaving Gavaldon, yet something goes terribly awry when they’re ‘dropped’ into the wrong places. Agatha ends up on the sweet side with the most popular and annoying chicks in all the land who want to sing to birds and catch ‘Charming’ (the son of King Arthur); while Sophie is mortified when dropped into the ‘evil’ castle where her pink dresses just don’t fit in.

But, what is good and what is evil? This story is absolutely fantastic, as it explores the fact that ‘all things pink’ may just be a cover for darkness, while the scariest of them all may just be the ones who own a heart of gold.

Action-packed scenes, hysterical classes, a prince who’s beyond confused – readers will be smiling long after the book is over. This author can hold their chin high. Because (just between you and me, Soman Chainani), you’ve done what no one else has. You’ve created a unique fantasy and brought back the notion that ‘Once Upon a Time’ is THE place to be!

Reviewer: Amy E. Lignor