The School For Good And Evil by Soman Chainani
It always seems to be the case that when I get recommended a book by one of my friends, it turns out to be amazing. This book was no different. I’m not usually a big fan of Middle-Grade books (I think this is technically classed as Middle Grade, but it could probably be read as YA too), so this was a nice surprise for me.
It reminds me a lot of Wicked, but more the musical than the book. Sophie and Agatha are two best friends, living in Gavaldon with the ever-present threat of a looming abduction to a fairy tale world. Every year, two children are taken to The School For Good And Evil, where the ‘good’ learn to become princesses and princes, and the ‘bad’ learn to become witches and monstrous creatures.
Of course, Sophie and Agatha are taken to this school, but their expected placements within the school are flipped on their head. Sophie has always considered herself to be the perfect fit for the School For Good, whilst Agatha seems to be perfect for the School For Evil, with her odd lifestyle and hatred for literally everybody (#relatable). And yet, Sophie ends up in the School For Evil, with Agatha going to Good.
I loved this. Agatha is an amazing character, and I loved her completely. I, however, really don’t like Sophie all that much, but her close relationship with Agatha mended my dislike of her somewhat. Somewhat. She’s still an unlikeable character, don’t get me wrong. Their dynamic was definitely Glinda/Elphaba esque, so it felt a little cliche, but overall, it was really sweet.
So, I did rate this book a full 5 stars out of a possible 5, although I do think that might have been because I read it right after Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, and I was still riding the high of that wave. Also, when you’ve read “hard” books (and I use the term “hard” here to mean higher level, as in they’re harder to read and take more time to finish), reading a Middle-Grade book is just a welcome relief from having to think about your literature. Here, you just have what’s on the cover: a friendship story between two girls, with a sprinkling of romance, and a whole lot of magic and fantasy.
I do really recommend this, though, especially if you were a Harry Potter child growing up, love Wicked (either the musical or the book) or just enjoy the fantasy genre in general. This is also the first Middle-Grade book I’ve ever reviewed on this blog, so I hope you enjoyed it!