Each year the schoolmaster collects two children from Sophie’s village. She longs to be chosen to attend the School for Good and grow up to be a fairy tale princess. Her best friend Agatha, hopes only to be left alone. When the schoolmaster comes to collect the children, Sophie is chosen, and all her dreams are about to come true. Except the schoomaster’s servants deposit her in the School of Evil and send Agatha to the School of Good. Clearly there’s been a mistake, one Sophie will do anything to correct. Agatha agrees that something has gone horribly wrong. She is determined to find a way to escape the school with Sophie and return home to her village. But what if there is no escape? What if the schoolmaster hasn’t made a mistake, and in fact, Sophie and Agatha belong exactly where he’s sent them?
When I saw this book sitting on the shelf in our local bookstore, my daughter and I were in the middle of the Ever After High series by Shannon Hale. While we both loved the upbeat story and its modern fairy tale feel, I liked that this series looked similar but perhaps more complex.
The story is a bit meatier than the Ever After High series, but it’s also a bit cruder. Agatha, surrounded by curious princes and princesses in the School for Good, passes gas at them to buy her time to escape. Later, she disguises herself as a roach. One of the students in the School for Evil turns rat poop into chocolate.
Over all, the message is a familiar important one. Sophie’s outward beauty isn’t what makes her good. Her shallowness and disdain for others much more heavily define her. Agatha doesn’t see herself as lovely, but her compassion and kindness mark her as a true princess.
I’m not sure that readers of Ever After High would necessarily gravitate toward this series because the tone is so different, but definitely readers who enjoyed The Thickety by J. A. White should definitely give this one a go.
No profanity. Brief crude references to bodily functions.
In the tradition of modern fairy tales, it’s not the prince and true love’s kiss that break an evil spell. Instead, a kiss between Agatha and Sophie seals the pivotal moment. It’s less romantic and more symbolic.
Children who attend the School for Evil will grow up to be villains (including witches) in fairy tale stories. Students learn to use magic spells to bring help or harm to others.
Mild battle situations. No gore.