Sunday, 30 August 2015

Children's book review : The School of Good and Evil 2 : A World Without Princes - Soman Chainani

Do you believe in happily ever after? What if one person's happy ending is incompatible with other people's? Such is the key question at the heart of the School of Good and Evil book series. Imagine Harry Potter with a girl power makeover and a sprinkle of the Brothers Grimm and you wouldn't be far wrong ! I read the first instalment last year and loved it - you can read my review here - so I was really excited when I received an email asking if I'd like to review book three, the final episode of the trilogy. This suddenly made me realise that despite my intention to read book two straight after book one, it got pushed down my bookpile into oblivion. I will therefore be bringing you the review of book three very soon but I wanted to catch up on book two first.

First of all, if you haven't read book one yet, look away, as there is a bit of a spoiler coming up when I tell you about book two. OK, assuming you're still reading, you must have read book one so you know that "evil" Agatha ended up discovering that she is actually a princess and "beautiful" Sophie is a gruesome, evil witch. After battling the evil School Master to get their happy ending, Agatha gave up her true love, the dashing Prince Tedros, so that the two friends could return home to Gavaldon and carry on as before.

Neither of the girls has ended up particularly happy though. Sophie is miffed that her father is remarrying and expects her to work, and, despite her best efforts, Agatha can't help thinking wistfully about her forsaken prince. As the saying goes, you should be careful what you wish for, and Sophie and Agatha are magically dragged back to the School of Good and Evil as soon as Agatha subconsciously wishes for her happy ending. Nothing is the same though. It has morphed into the School for Girls and Boys because Sophie and Agatha's story proved that princesses don't need princes. Everything has gone militantly feminist, with hilarious results for the reader, as traditional fairy tales are rewritten with princesses kicking the princes' and male villains' butts !

It's not all fun and high jinx though. The princes and henchmen have been banished and are now living in misery and squalor, desperate for revenge on the girls who ousted them from their rightful (or at least traditional) place. Speaking of revenge, Tedros is also so bitter about his lost happy ending that he wants to kill Sophie, seeing it as the only way to reclaim Agatha's heart. Poor Agatha ! What's a girl to do? Choose her best friend or the one she loves? And is Sophie really good or is she morphing back into a witch? 

It's another cracking read, full of magical mayhem, dark humour and excitement and strong female leads. All three of the main characters - Agatha, Sophie and Tedros - are by turns endearing and irritating so we can empathise with all of them. If only there could be a happy ending that would work for all three of them !

I'm definitely going straight on to book three because I can't wait to see how the story ends - the second book leaves lots of unfinished business that I can't wait to pick up again. The series targets tween-aged girls but I'm seriously loving the series as a grown-up too !

star rating : 4.5/5

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks (8 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007502818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007502813
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm

Disclosure : I received the book in order to write an honest review.

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