The School for Good and Evil is a classic fairy tale on its head, or so it’s made to seem. But as the fairy godmother points out, the best princesses start at the bottom, and it’s through struggle that our true characters are revealed. Sophie is a perfect princess, and a perfect monster. Agatha is a heroic outcast. This story beautifully illustrates the tropes of classic fairy tales with a wonderfully dark twist.
Chainani’s characterization was great. I hated Sophie within a page, and Agatha was instantly relatable. That said, it made sections with Sophie a little hard to read. Her personality made me want bad things to happen to her. Which, of course, was the point. There was a lot of head-hopping between the two main characters, but not in a confusing way. The omniscient narrator just peeked into whoever had the most to think at any given time. We also got a handful of thoughts from secondary characters when the author wanted us to have more information than the girls could provide.
As for the writing itself, the descriptions were great, and there was just the right amount of detail to give a good sense of setting without being overbearing. There were a few instances of funky phrasing that tripped me up, and a too many missing words. I’d be reading along, happily absorbed in the story and suddenly there would be a missing “and” or “who” that jolted me out of it. I expect to find a few of these in any book, but there were enough in this one to become a problem.
The story was very fast paced and kept me engaged the whole time. I honestly had trouble putting it down. The plot was entertaining, but not wholly unpredictable. There were some loose ends and unanswered questions at the end of the story that made it feel not quite finished. Not too surprising since it’s the first book in a series. I’m excited to pick up the next book and see what everyone makes of their “happily ever afters.”