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The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil

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The School for Good and Evil

évaluations:
4.5/5 (111 évaluations)
Longueur:
533 pages
7 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
May 14, 2013
ISBN:
9780062104915
Format:
Livre

Description

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL will soon be a major motion picture from Netflix—starring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh,  Sofia Wylie, Sophie Anne Caruso, Jamie Flatters, Kit Young, and more! 

The New York Times bestselling School for Good and Evil series is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one. Start here to follow Sophie, Agatha, and everyone at school from the beginning!

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie's dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?

Don't miss the thrilling conclusion to the beloved series, The School for Good and Evil #6: One True King!

Éditeur:
Sortie:
May 14, 2013
ISBN:
9780062104915
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Soman Chainani is the New York Times bestselling author of the School for Good and Evil series. The fairy-tale saga has sold over 2.5 million copies, been translated into 29 languages, and will soon be a major motion picture from Netflix, which Soman will executive produce. Soman is a graduate of Harvard University and received his MFA in film from Columbia University. Every year, he visits schools around the world to speak to kids and share his secret: that reading is the path to a better life. You can visit Soman at www.somanchainani.com.

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The School for Good and Evil - Soman Chainani

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1

The Princess & The Witch

Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped.

But tonight, all the other children of Gavaldon writhed in their beds. If the School Master took them, they’d never return. Never lead a full life. Never see their family again. Tonight these children dreamt of a red-eyed thief with the body of a beast, come to rip them from their sheets and stifle their screams.

Sophie dreamt of princes instead.

She had arrived at a castle ball thrown in her honor, only to find the hall filled with a hundred suitors and no other girls in sight. Here for the first time were boys who deserved her, she thought as she walked the line. Hair shiny and thick, muscles taut through shirts, skin smooth and tan, beautiful and attentive like princes should be. But just as she came to one who seemed better than the rest, with brilliant blue eyes and ghostly white hair, the one who felt like Happily Ever After . . . a hammer broke through the walls of the room and smashed the princes to shards.

Sophie’s eyes opened to morning. The hammer was real. The princes were not.

Father, if I don’t sleep nine hours, my eyes look swollen.

Everyone’s prattling on that you’re to be taken this year, her father said, nailing a misshapen bar over her bedroom window, now completely obscured by locks, spikes, and screws. They tell me to shear your hair, muddy up your face, as if I believe all this fairy-tale hogwash. But no one’s getting in here tonight. That’s for sure. He pounded a deafening crack as exclamation.

Sophie rubbed her ears and frowned at her once lovely window, now something you’d see in a witch’s den. Locks. Why didn’t anyone think of that before?

I don’t know why they all think it’s you, he said, silver hair slicked with sweat. If it’s goodness that School Master fellow wants, he’ll take Gunilda’s daughter.

Sophie tensed. Belle?

Perfect child that one is, he said. Brings her father home-cooked lunches at the mill. Gives the leftovers to the poor hag in the square.

Sophie heard the edge in her father’s voice. She had never once cooked a full meal for him, even after her mother died. Naturally she had good reason (the oil and smoke would clog her pores) but she knew it was a sore point. This didn’t mean her father had gone hungry. Instead, she offered him her own favorite foods: mashed beets, broccoli stew, boiled asparagus, steamed spinach. He hadn’t ballooned into a blimp like Belle’s father, precisely because she hadn’t brought him home-cooked lamb fricassees and cheese soufflés at the mill. As for the poor hag in the square, that old crone, despite claiming hunger day after day, was fat. And if Belle had anything to do with it, then she wasn’t good at all, but the worst kind of evil.

Sophie smiled back at her father. Like you said, it’s all hogwash. She swept out of bed and slammed the bathroom door.

She studied her face in the mirror. The rude awakening had taken its toll. Her waist-long hair, the color of spun gold, didn’t have its usual sheen. Her jade-green eyes looked faded, her luscious red lips a touch dry. Even the glow of her creamy peach skin had dulled. But still a princess, she thought. Her father couldn’t see she was special, but her mother had. You are too beautiful for this world, Sophie, she said with her last breaths. Her mother had gone somewhere better and now so would she.

Tonight she would be taken into the woods. Tonight she would begin a new life. Tonight she would live out her fairy tale.

And now she needed to look the part.

To begin, she rubbed fish eggs into her skin, which smelled of dirty feet but warded off spots. Then she massaged in pumpkin puree, rinsed with goat’s milk, and soaked her face in a mask of melon and turtle egg yolk. As she waited for the mask to dry, Sophie flipped through a storybook and sipped on cucumber juice to keep her skin dewy soft. She skipped to her favorite part of the story, where the wicked hag is rolled down a hill in a nail-spiked barrel, until all that remains is her bracelet made of little boys’ bones. Gazing at the gruesome bracelet, Sophie felt her thoughts drift to cucumbers. Suppose there were no cucumbers in the woods? Suppose other princesses had depleted the supply? No cucumbers! She’d shrivel, she’d wither, she’d—

Dried melon flakes fell to the page. She turned to the mirror and saw her brow creased in worry. First ruined sleep and now wrinkles. At this rate she’d be a hag by afternoon. She relaxed her face and banished thoughts of vegetables.

As for the rest of Sophie’s beauty routine, it could fill a dozen storybooks (suffice it to say it included goose feathers, pickled potatoes, horse hooves, cream of cashews, and a vial of cow’s blood). Two hours of rigorous grooming later, she stepped from the house in a breezy pink dress, sparkling glass heels, and hair in an impeccable braid. She had one last day before the School Master’s arrival and planned to use each and every minute to remind him why she, and not Belle or Tabitha or Sabrina or any other impostor, should be kidnapped.

Sophie’s best friend lived in a cemetery. Given her loathing of things grim, gray, and poorly lit, one would expect Sophie to host visits at her cottage or find a new best friend. But instead, she had climbed to the house atop Graves Hill every day this week, careful to maintain a smile on her face, since that was the point of a good deed after all.

To get there, she had to walk nearly a mile from the bright lakeside cottages, with green eaves and sun-drenched turrets, towards the gloomy edges of the forest. Sounds of hammering echoed through cottage lanes as she passed fathers boarding up doors, mothers stuffing scarecrows, boys and girls hunched on porches, noses buried in storybooks. The last sight wasn’t unusual, for children in Gavaldon did little besides read their fairy tales. But today Sophie noticed their eyes, wild, frenzied, scouring each page as if their lives depended on it. Four years ago, she had seen the same desperation to avoid the curse, but it wasn’t her turn then. The School Master took only those past their twelfth year, those who could no longer disguise as children.

Now her turn had come.

As she slogged up Graves Hill, picnic basket in hand, Sophie felt her thighs burn. Had these climbs thickened her legs? All the princesses in storybooks had the same perfect proportions; thick thighs were as unlikely as a hooked nose or big feet. Feeling anxious, Sophie distracted herself by counting her good deeds from the day before. First, she had fed the lake’s geese a blend of lentils and leeks (a natural laxative to offset cheese thrown by oafish children). Then she had donated homemade lemonwood face wash to the town orphanage (for, as she insisted to the befuddled benefactor, Proper skin care is the greatest deed of all.). Finally she had put up a mirror in the church toilet, so people could return to the pews looking their best. Was this enough? Did these compete with baking homemade pies and feeding homeless hags? Her thoughts shifted nervously to cucumbers. Perhaps she could sneak a private supply into the woods. She still had plenty of time to pack before nightfall. But weren’t cucumbers heavy? Would the school send footmen? Perhaps she should juice them before she—

Where you going?

Sophie turned. Radley smiled at her with buckteeth and anemically red hair. He lived nowhere near Graves Hill but made it a habit to stalk her all hours of the day.

To see a friend, said Sophie.

Why are you friends with the witch? said Radley.

She’s not a witch.

She has no friends and she’s queer. That makes her a witch.

Sophie refrained from pointing out this made Radley a witch too. Instead she smiled to remind him she’d already done her good deed by enduring his presence.

The School Master will take her for Evil School, he said. Then you’ll need a new friend.

He takes two children, Sophie said, jaw tightening.

He’ll take Belle for the other one. No one’s as good as Belle.

Sophie’s smile evaporated.

But I’ll be your new friend, said Radley.

I’m full on friends at the moment, Sophie snapped.

Radley turned the color of a raspberry. Oh, right—I just thought— He fled like a kicked dog.

Sophie watched his straggly hair recede down the hill. Oh, you’ve really done it now, she thought. Months of good deeds and forced smiles and now she’d ruined it for runty Radley. Why not make his day? Why not simply answer, I’d be honored to have you as my friend! and give the idiot a moment he’d relive for years? She knew it was the prudent thing to do, since the School Master must be judging her as closely as St. Nicholas the night before Christmas. But she couldn’t do it. She was beautiful, Radley was ugly. Only a villain would delude him. Surely the School Master would understand that.

Sophie pulled open the rusted cemetery gates and felt weeds scratch at her legs. Across the hilltop, moldy headstones forked haphazardly from dunes of dead leaves. Squeezing between dark tombs and decaying branches, Sophie kept careful count of the rows. She had never looked at her mother’s grave, even at the funeral, and she wouldn’t start today. As she passed the sixth row, she glued her eyes to a weeping birch and reminded herself where she’d be a day from now.

In the middle of the thickest batch of tombs stood 1 Graves Hill. The house wasn’t boarded up or bolted shut like the cottages by the lake, but that didn’t make it any more inviting. The steps leading up to the porch glowed mildew green. Dead birches and vines wormed their way around dark wood, and the sharply angled roof, black and thin, loomed like a witch’s hat.

As she climbed the moaning porch steps, Sophie tried to ignore the smell, a mix of garlic and wet cat, and averted her eyes from the headless birds sprinkled around, no doubt the victims of the latter.

She knocked on the door and prepared for a fight.

Go away, came the gruff voice.

That’s no way to speak to your best friend, Sophie cooed.

You’re not my best friend.

Who is, then? Sophie asked, wondering if Belle had somehow made her way to Graves Hill.

None of your business.

Sophie took a deep breath. She didn’t want another Radley incident. We had such a good time yesterday, Agatha. I thought we’d do it again.

You dyed my hair orange.

But we fixed it, didn’t we?

You always test your creams and potions on me just to see how they work.

Isn’t that what friends are for? Sophie said. To help each other?

I’ll never be as pretty as you.

Sophie tried to find something nice to say. She took too long and heard shoes stomp away.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends! Sophie called.

A familiar cat, bald and wrinkled, growled at her across the porch. She whipped back to the door. I brought biscuits!

Shoesteps stopped. Real ones or ones you made?

Sophie shrank from the slinking cat. Fluffy and buttery, just like you love!

The cat hissed.

Agatha, let me in—

You’ll say I smell.

You don’t smell.

Then why’d you say it last time?

Because you smelled last time! Agatha, the cat’s spitting—

Maybe it smells ulterior motives.

The cat bared claws.

Agatha, open the door!

It pounced at her face. Sophie screamed. A hand stabbed between them and swatted the cat down.

Sophie looked up.

Reaper ran out of birds, said Agatha.

Her hideous dome of black hair looked like it was coated in oil. Her hulking black dress, shapeless as a potato sack, couldn’t hide freakishly pale skin and jutting bones. Ladybug eyes bulged from her sunken face.

I thought we’d go for a walk, Sophie said.

Agatha leaned against the door. I’m still trying to figure out why you’re friends with me.

Because you’re sweet and funny, said Sophie.

My mother says I’m bitter and grumpy, said Agatha. So one of you is lying.

She reached into Sophie’s basket and pulled back the napkin to reveal dry, butterless bran biscuits. Agatha gave Sophie a withering stare and retreated into the house.

So we can’t take a walk? Sophie asked.

Agatha started to close the door but then saw her crestfallen face. As if Sophie had looked forward to their walk as much as she had.

A short one. Agatha trudged past her. But if you say anything smug or stuck-up or shallow, I’ll have Reaper follow you home.

Sophie ran after her. But then I can’t talk!

After four years, the dreaded eleventh night of the eleventh month had arrived. In the late-day sun, the square had become a hive of preparation for the School Master’s arrival. The men sharpened swords, set traps, and plotted the night’s guard, while the women lined up the children and went to work. Handsome ones had their hair lopped off, teeth blackened, and clothes shredded to rags; homely ones were scrubbed, swathed in bright colors, and fitted with veils. Mothers begged the best-behaved children to curse or kick their sisters, the worst were bribed to pray in the church, while the rest in line were led in choruses of the village anthem: Blessed Are the Ordinary.

Fear swelled into a contagious fog. In a dim alley, the butcher and blacksmith traded storybooks for clues to save their sons. Beneath the crooked clock tower, two sisters listed fairy-tale villain names to hunt for patterns. A group of boys chained their bodies together, a few girls hid on the school roof, and a masked child jumped from bushes to spook his mother, earning a spanking on the spot. Even the homeless hag got into the act, hopping before a meager fire, croaking, Burn the storybooks! Burn them all! But no one listened and no books were burned.

Agatha gawped at all this in disbelief. How can a whole town believe in fairy tales?

Because they’re real.

Agatha stopped walking. You can’t actually believe the legend is true.

Of course I do, said Sophie.

"That a School Master kidnaps two children, takes them to a school where one learns Good, one learns Evil, and they graduate into fairy tales?"

Sounds about right.

Tell me if you see an oven.

Why?

I want to put my head in it. And what, pray tell, do they teach at this school exactly?

Well, in the School for Good, they teach boys and girls like me how to become heroes and princesses, how to rule kingdoms justly, how to find Happily Ever After, Sophie said. In the School for Evil, they teach you how to become wicked witches and humpbacked trolls, how to lay curses and cast evil spells.

Evil spells? Agatha cackled. Who came up with this? A four-year-old?

Agatha, the proof’s in the storybooks! You can see the missing children in the drawings! Jack, Rose, Rapunzel—they all got their own tales—

"I don’t see anything, because I don’t read dumb storybooks."

Then why is there a stack by your bed? Sophie asked.

Agatha scowled. Look, who’s to say the books are even real? Maybe it’s the bookseller’s prank. Maybe it’s the Elders’ way to keep children out of the woods. Whatever the explanation, it isn’t a School Master and it isn’t evil spells.

So who’s kidnapping the children?

No one. Every four years, two idiots sneak into the woods, hoping to scare their parents, only to get lost or eaten by wolves, and there you have it, the legend continues.

That’s the stupidest explanation I’ve ever heard.

I don’t think I’m the stupid one here, Agatha said.

There was something about being called stupid that set Sophie’s blood aflame.

You’re just scared, she said.

Right, Agatha laughed. And why would I be scared?

Because you know you’re coming with me.

Agatha stopped laughing. Then her gaze moved past Sophie into the square. The villagers were staring at them like the solution to a mystery. Good in pink, Evil in black. The School Master’s perfect pair.

Frozen still, Agatha watched dozens of scared eyes bore into her. Her first thought was that after tomorrow she and Sophie could take their walks in peace. Next to her, Sophie watched children memorize her face in case it appeared in their storybooks one day. Her first thought was whether they looked at Belle the same way.

Then, through the crowd, she saw her.

Head shaved, dress filthy, Belle kneeled in dirt, frantically muddying her own face. Sophie drew a breath. For Belle was just like the others. She wanted a mundane marriage to a man who would grow fat, lazy, and demanding. She wanted monotonous days of cooking, cleaning, sewing. She wanted to shovel dung and milk sheep and slaughter squealing pigs. She wanted to rot in Gavaldon until her skin was liver-spotted and her teeth fell out. The School Master would never take Belle because Belle wasn’t a princess. She was . . . nothing.

Victorious, Sophie beamed back at the pathetic villagers and basked in their stares like shiny mirrors—

Let’s go, said Agatha.

Sophie turned. Agatha’s eyes were locked on the mob.

Where?

Away from people.

As the sun weakened to a red orb, two girls, one beautiful, one ugly, sat side by side on the shore of a lake. Sophie packed cucumbers in a silk pouch, while Agatha flicked lit matches into the water. After the tenth match, Sophie threw her a look.

It relaxes me, Agatha said.

Sophie tried to make room for the last cucumber. "Why would someone like Belle want to stay here? Who would choose this over a fairy tale?"

"And who would choose to leave their family forever?" Agatha snorted.

Except me, you mean, said Sophie.

They fell silent.

Do you ever wonder where your father went? Sophie asked.

I told you. He left after I was born.

But where would he go? We’re surrounded by woods! To suddenly disappear like that . . . Sophie spun. Maybe he found a way into the stories! Maybe he found a magic portal! Maybe he’s waiting for you on the other side!

Or maybe he went back to his wife, pretended I never happened, and died ten years ago in a mill accident.

Sophie bit her lip and went back to cucumbers.

Your mother’s never at home when I visit.

She goes into town now, said Agatha. Not enough patients at the house. Probably the location.

I’m sure that’s it, Sophie said, knowing no one would trust Agatha’s mother to treat diaper rash, let alone illness. I don’t think a graveyard makes people all that comfortable.

Graveyards have their benefits, Agatha said. No nosy neighbors. No drop-in salesmen. No fishy ‘friends’ bearing face masks and diet cookies, telling you you’re going to Evil School in Magic Fairy Land. She flicked a match with relish.

Sophie put down her cucumber. So I’m fishy now.

Who asked you to show up? I was perfectly fine alone.

You always let me in.

Because you always seem so lonely, said Agatha. And I feel sorry for you.

"Sorry for me? Sophie’s eyes flashed. You’re lucky that someone would come see you when no one else will. You’re lucky that someone like me would be your friend. You’re lucky that someone like me is such a good person."

I knew it! Agatha flared. I’m your Good Deed! Just a pawn in your stupid fantasy!

Sophie didn’t say anything for a long time.

Maybe I became your friend to impress the School Master, she confessed finally. But there’s more to it now.

Because I found you out, Agatha grumbled.

Because I like you.

Agatha turned to her.

No one understands me here, Sophie said, looking at her hands. But you do. You see who I am. That’s why I kept coming back. You’re not my good deed anymore, Agatha.

Sophie gazed up at her. You’re my friend.

Agatha’s neck flushed red.

What’s wrong? Sophie frowned.

Agatha hunched into her dress. It’s just, um . . . I—I’m, uh . . . not used to friends.

Sophie smiled and took her hand. Well, now we’ll be friends at our new school.

Agatha groaned and pulled away. "Say I sink to your intelligence level and pretend to believe all this. Why am I going to villain school? Why has everyone elected me the Mistress of Evil?"

No one says you’re evil, Agatha, Sophie sighed. You’re just different.

Agatha narrowed her eyes. "Different how?"

Well, for starters, you only wear black.

Because it doesn’t get dirty.

You don’t ever leave your house.

People don’t look at me there.

For the Create-a-Tale Competition, your story ended with Snow White eaten by vultures and Cinderella drowning herself in a tub.

I thought it was a better ending.

You gave me a dead frog for my birthday!

To remind you we all die and end up rotting underground eaten by maggots so we should enjoy our birthdays while we have them. I found it thoughtful.

"Agatha, you dressed as a bride for Halloween."

Weddings are scary.

Sophie gaped at her.

Fine. So I’m a little different, Agatha glared. So what?

Sophie hesitated. "Well, it’s just that in fairy tales, different usually turns out, um . . . evil."

You’re saying I’m going to turn out a Grand Witch, said Agatha, hurt.

I’m saying whatever happens, you’ll have a choice, Sophie said gently. Both of us will choose how our fairy tale ends.

Agatha said nothing for a while. Then she touched Sophie’s hand. Why is it you want to leave here so badly? That you’d believe in stories you know aren’t true?

Sophie met Agatha’s big, sincere eyes. For the first time, she let in the tides of doubt.

Because I can’t live here, Sophie said, voice catching. I can’t live an ordinary life.

Funny, said Agatha. That’s why I like you.

Sophie smiled. Because you can’t either?

Because you make me feel ordinary, Agatha said. And that’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted.

The tenor-tolled clock sang darkly in the valley, six or seven, for they had lost track of time. And as the echoes faded into the buzz of the distant square, both Sophie and Agatha made a wish. That one day from now, they’d still be in the company of the other.

Wherever that was.

2

The Art of Kidnapping

By the time the sun extinguished, the children were long locked away. Through bedroom shutters, they peeked at torch-armed fathers, sisters, grandmothers lined around the dark forest, daring the School Master to cross their ring of fire.

But while shivering children tightened their window screws, Sophie prepared to undo hers. She wanted this kidnapping to be as convenient as possible. Barricaded in her room, she laid out hairpins, tweezers, nail files and went to work.

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. The ages were just as fickle; one could be sixteen, the other fourteen, or both just turned twelve. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

Naturally the villagers blamed bears. No one had ever seen a bear in Gavaldon, but this made them more determined to find one. Four years later, when two more children vanished, the villagers admitted they should have been more specific and declared black bears the culprit, bears so black they blended with the night. But when children continued to disappear every four years, the village shifted their attention to burrowing bears, then phantom bears, then bears in disguise . . . until it became clear it wasn’t bears at all.

But while frantic villagers spawned new theories (the Sinkhole Theory, the Flying Cannibal Theory) the children of Gavaldon began to notice something suspicious. As they studied the dozens of Missing posters tacked up in the square, the faces of these lost boys and girls looked oddly familiar. That’s when they opened up their storybooks and found the kidnapped children.

Jack, taken a hundred years before, hadn’t aged a bit. Here he was, painted with the same moppy hair, pinked dimples, and crooked smile that had made him so popular with the girls of Gavaldon. Only now he had a beanstalk in his back garden and a weakness for magic beans. Meanwhile, Angus, the pointy-eared, freckled hooligan who had vanished with Jack that same year, had transformed into a pointy-eared, freckled giant at the top of Jack’s beanstalk. The two boys had found their way into a fairy tale. But when the children presented the Storybook Theory, the adults responded as adults most often do. They patted the children’s heads and returned to sinkholes and cannibals.

But then the children showed them more familiar faces. Taken fifty years before, sweet Anya now sat on moonlit rocks in a painting as the Little Mermaid, while cruel Estra had become the devious sea witch. Philip, the priest’s upright son, had grown into the Cunning Little Tailor, while pompous Gula spooked children as the Witch of the Wood. Scores of children, kidnapped in pairs, had found new lives in a storybook world. One as Good. One as Evil.

The books came from Mr. Deauville’s Storybook Shop, a musty nook between Battersby’s Bakery and the Pickled Pig Pub. The problem, of course, was where old Mr. Deauville got his storybooks.

Once a year, on a morning he could not predict, he would arrive at his shop to find a box of books waiting inside. Four brand-new fairy tales, one copy of each. Mr. Deauville would hang a sign on his shop door: Closed Until Further Notice. Then he’d huddle in his back room day after day, diligently copying the new tales by hand until he had enough books for every child in Gavaldon. As for the mysterious originals, they’d appear one morning in his shop window, a sign that Mr. Deauville had finished his exhausting task at last. He’d open his doors to a three-mile line that snaked through the square, down hillslopes, around the lake, jammed with children thirsting for new stories, and parents desperate to see if any of the missing had made it into this year’s tales.

Needless to say, the Council of Elders had plenty of questions for Mr. Deauville. When asked who sent the books, Mr. Deauville said he hadn’t the faintest idea. When asked how long the books had been appearing, Mr. Deauville said he couldn’t remember a time when the books did not appear. When asked whether he’d ever questioned this magical appearance of books, Mr. Deauville replied: Where else would storybooks come from?

Then the Elders noticed something else about Mr. Deauville’s storybooks. All the villages in them looked just like Gavaldon. The same lakeshore cottages and colorful eaves. The same purple and green tulips along thin dirt roads. The same crimson carriages, wood-front shops, yellow schoolhouse, and leaning clock tower, only drawn as fantasy in a land far, far away. These storybook villages existed for only one purpose: to begin a fairy tale and to end it. Everything between the beginning and end happened in the dark, endless woods that surrounded the town.

That’s when they noticed that Gavaldon too was surrounded by dark, endless woods.

Back when the children first started to disappear, villagers stormed the forest to find them, only to be repelled by storms, floods, cyclones, and falling trees. When they finally braved their way through, they found a town hiding beyond the trees and vengefully besieged it, only to discover it was their own. Indeed, no matter where the villagers entered the woods, they came out right where they started. The woods, it seemed, had no intention of returning their children. And one day they found out why.

Mr. Deauville had finished unpacking that year’s storybooks when he noticed a large smudge hiding in the box’s fold. He touched his finger to it and discovered the smudge was wet with ink. Looking closer, he saw it was a seal with an elaborate crest of a black swan and a white swan. On the crest were three letters:

S.G.E.

There was no need for him to guess what these letters meant. It said so in the banner beneath the crest. Small black words that told the village where its children had gone:

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

The kidnappings continued, but now the thief had a name.

They called him the School Master.

A few minutes after ten, Sophie pried the last lock off the window and cracked open the shutters. She could see to the forest edge, where her father, Stefan, stood with the rest of the perimeter guard. But instead of looking anxious like the others, he was smiling, hand on the widow Honora’s shoulder. Sophie grimaced. What her father saw in that woman, she had no idea. Once upon a time, her mother had been as flawless as a storybook queen. Honora, meanwhile, had a small head, round body, and looked like a turkey.

Her father whispered mischievously into the widow’s ear and Sophie’s cheeks burned. If it were Honora’s two little sons who might be taken, he’d be serious as death. True, Stefan had locked her in at sundown, given her a kiss, dutifully acted the loving father. But Sophie knew the truth. She had seen it in his face every day of her life. Her father didn’t love her. Because she wasn’t a boy. Because she didn’t remind him of himself.

Now he wanted to marry that beast. Five years after her mother’s death, it wouldn’t be seen as improper or callous. A simple exchange of vows and he’d have two sons, a new family, a fresh start. But he needed his daughter’s blessing first for the Elders to allow it. The few times he tried, Sophie changed the subject or loudly chopped cucumbers or smiled the way she did at Radley. Her father hadn’t mentioned Honora again.

Let the coward marry her when I’m gone, she thought, glaring at him through the shutters. Only when she was gone would he appreciate her. Only when she was gone would he know no one could replace her. And only when she was gone would he see he had spawned much more than a son.

He had borne a princess.

On her windowsill, Sophie laid out gingerbread hearts for the School Master with delicate care. For the first time in her life, she’d made them with sugar and butter. These were special, after all. A message to say she’d come willingly.

Sinking into her pillow, she closed her eyes on widows, fathers, and wretched Gavaldon and with a smile counted the seconds to midnight.

As soon as Sophie’s head vanished beneath the window, Agatha shoved the gingerbread hearts in her mouth. Only thing these will invite are rats, she thought, crumbs dribbling on her black clump shoes. She yawned and set on her way as the town clock inched past the quarter hour.

Upon leaving Sophie after their walk, Agatha had started home only to have visions of Sophie darting into the woods to find this School for Fools and Crackpots and ending up gored by a boar. So she returned to Sophie’s garden and waited behind a tree, listening as Sophie undid her window (singing a birdbrained song about princes), packed her bags (now singing about wedding bells), put on makeup and her finest dress (Everybody Loves a Princess in Pink?!), and finally (finally!) tucked herself into bed. Agatha mashed the last crumbs with her clump and trudged towards the cemetery. Sophie was safe and would wake up tomorrow feeling like a fool. Agatha wouldn’t rub it in. Sophie would need her even more now and she would be there for her. Here in this safe, secluded world, the two of them would make their own paradise.

As Agatha tramped up the slope, she noticed an arc of darkness in the forest’s torch-lit border. Apparently the guards responsible for the cemetery had decided what lived inside wasn’t worth protecting. For as long as Agatha could remember, she’d had a talent for making people go away. Kids fled from her like a vampire bat. Adults clung to walls as she passed, afraid she might curse them. Even the grave keepers on the hill bolted at the sight of her. With each new year, the whispers in town grew louder—witch, villain, Evil School—until she looked for excuses not to go out. First days, then weeks, until she haunted her graveyard house like a ghost.

There were plenty of ways to entertain herself at first. She wrote poems (It’s a Miserable Life and Heaven Is a Cemetery were her best), drew portraits of Reaper that frightened mice more than the real cat did, and even tried her hand at a book of fairy tales, Grimly Ever After, about beautiful children who die horrible deaths. But she had no one to show these things to until the day Sophie knocked.

Reaper licked her ankles as she stepped onto her squeaking porch. She heard singing inside—

"In the forest primeval

A School for Good and Evil . . ."

Agatha rolled her eyes and pushed open the door.

Her mother, back turned, sang cheerily as she packed a trunk with black capes, broomsticks, and pointy black witch’s hats.

"Two towers like twin heads

One for the pure,

One for the wicked.

Try to escape you’ll always fail

The only way out is

Through a fairy tale . . ."

Planning an exotic vacation? Agatha said. Last time I checked, there’s no way out of Gavaldon unless you grow wings.

Callis turned. Do you think three capes is enough? she asked, bug eyes bulging, hair a greasy black helmet.

Agatha winced at just how much they

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Ce que les gens pensent de The School for Good and Evil

4.3
111 évaluations / 57 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (4/5)
    WOW! I started reading this b/c I have a 10 year old who I thought may like it. I really am enjoying it. I think it's a good read.
    It really takes the whole inner beauty to a new level.
    Sophie is beautiful and only thinks about herself using everyone to get what she wants.
    Agatha truly good but listens to everyone who says b/c she's ugly she's evil...
    I really dig Agatha and how she scoffs at the whole waiting for a prince to rescue you.

    I'm so not down with them training princesses to talk to animals and be losers while Princes get all the defensive skills and the evil's get to use magic... lame.

    In the end I'm glad it ended the way it did.
  • (4/5)
    This was a cute read for younger teens. I smiled at Sophie and Agatha's adventures and the predicament they found themselves in, but I was surprised at how gruesome the plot was at times. I found Agatha a delightful character with her humour and dry wit, but Sophie became annoying very quickly. The author has created a clever story blending all the elements of fairytales into an enjoyable story that will keep young girls entertained.
  • (5/5)

    This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes

    Cover Impressions: Very nice, if a little cutesy. I understand that it is middle grade, but I usually prefer for these books to have an appeal to older students as well. The background images are beautiful and the crest and banner title are very well done.

    The Gist: For hundreds of years, the children of Gavaldon have been going missing. Every four years, two at a time, one beautiful and one ugly. After a time, the children of the town realized that these former playmates were appear within the pages of their favorite fairy tales. Sophie has spent her entire life preparing for this day, maintaining a beauty routine, sewing dresses and doing good deeds. Agatha, on the other hand, would do anything to remain at home with her gravestones and evil pet cat. When the two are swept away, they find that a serious mistake has been made and their fortunes have been reversed. Beautiful Sophie to the School for Evil and ghastly Agatha to the School for Good. As they try to fight for their hearts' desire, the girls learn about themselves and the barrier between Good and Evil.

    Review:
    The School for Good and Evil opens on the eve of the night when children regularly disappear from their homes. Most children are trying to make themselves as undesirable as possible, while Sophie attempts to flaunt her assets as a princess. She is determined to be spirited away from her home to the School for Good where she will meet her prince charming. Along side her, will certainly be her friend Agatha, the child for whom the term "witchy" was coined. As her counterpart, Agatha will enter the School for Evil and the two will find a way to maintain their frienship despite the rivalry of their schools. The premise for this book is very unique and charming. The thought of children being stolen from their homes only to show up in the pages of storybooks is both wonderful and terrifying. I do wish that we were able to spend a little more time with Agatha and Sophie within their village and to learn more about the mysterious town from which no one can choose to leave.

    This novel features some fantastic characters. Sophie was difficult to like, but that was kind of the point, while Agatha did lose a little of herself by the end of the novel. Sophie's roommates where a fantastic addition. They had the best lines and often left me laughing out loud. These characters could easily hold a story or series of their own (hint hint!).

    The School for Good and Evil was a beautiful mix of Wicked, Harry Potter and the humor of Roald Dahl. It was really fun to see the juxtuposition between Good and Evil. The schools were truly equal but opposite, down to the smallest detail. I must admit, I had more love for the School of Evil as they had more interesting characters and it was enjoyable to watch them revel in the dank, dire and disgusting. The world building is truly fantastic and well fleshed out, though it is a little difficult to keep track of all the rules and the names of the students. This was aided by the alternating point of view which worked well to show the thoughts and feelings of both girls as well as to give a glimpse into the inner workings of both schools.

    The plot was a little predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. The ending was a little strange, and I can't wait to see how this plays out in future books. I am very excited to see this on film. I think that it will translate really well and that the setting will play out beautifully on the big screen. Overall, an excellent addition to the Middle-Grade section of my classroom library. I cannot wait to jump back into this world in 2014.

    Teaching/Parental Notes:

    Age: 10 and up
    Gender: Both
    Sex: Kissing
    Violence: Magical Violence
    Inappropriate Language: None
    Substance Use/Abuse: None
  • (3/5)
    Go ahead -- judge The School for Good and Evil by its cover, because this is a book that really wanted to be a manga series. Not that there's anything wrong with wanting to be a manga series -- but I'll get into the issues I had with this book after a quick summary:Every four years, two children are stolen from the isolated little town of Gavaldon by a mysterious Schoolmaster. One is taken to the School for Good, the other to the School for Evil . . . and there they become the stuff that fairy tales are made of. Parents lock their children away -- the unusually bad children do surprising, uncharacteristic good works, the preternaturally good ones go around making messes and pinching their siblings. None of them want to be taken away . . . except for Sophie. Sophie can hardly wait. She's always known that, deep inside, she was a princess. Surely the Schoolmaster will see that as well, and take Sophie to the School for Good where she can meet her perfect Prince Charming. But has she been good enough? In an attempt to up her standing on the Nice List, Sophie befriends outsider Agatha, who wears a lot of black and lives next to a graveyard. Agatha doesn't necessarily believe in the schools, and she certainly doesn't want to go there -- but even her mother believes that Agatha, if she were chosen, would land squarely in the School for Evil. So, imagine the two girls' surprise when Agatha finds herself chosen for the School for Good, and Sophie ends up in the School for Evil. Agatha's main goal is to get herself and Sophie out of their schools and back to Gavaldon before something dreadful befalls them -- you see, she quickly learns what happens to students who are not successful. Sophie, on the other hand, is determined to make her way to the School for Good (she even has her Prince Charming picked out) and nothing, not friendship or magic or a host of fakey-nice Mean Girls at the School for Good, will stand in her way. To top it off, what Sophie and Agatha don't know is that there are forces at work at the Schools that neither of them understand . . . and they are about to get swept into something much larger than just two girls spirited off to school. . . .So, that sounds promising, right? Well, the first bit of the book is good enough . . . but once the girls get to the school, it goes downhill. One of the main problems is the length, or to be precise, the amount of wasted space in the main portion of the book, where Agatha tries to convince Sophie to go home, and Sophie hatches another scheme to get into the School for Good. Over and over again. There's an entire school year to fill, and while some of the girls' adventures are exciting, they also felt repetitive to me. To top it off, the ending of the book is massively confusing. Then, the writing is not as great as one might expect from the impressive author bio and the number of big-name book blurbers this title attracted. The story has definite visual/cinematic elements, but there were times when I could almost feel the author's frustration at not being able to just express visually what was going through his mind. And this led to action sequences (particularly at the end of the book) that were extremely jumpy and confusing. As manga, it would almost definitely have been more successful; as a film (I hear it has already been optioned) I think it will be spectacular. As a book, it just didn't do it for me. Much as it pains me to say such a thing, my recommendation on this one is to skip the book and just wait for the movie.
  • (3/5)
    I wanted to enjoy this more than I did. The back and forth between characters was hard for me to follow and I found myself skimming a few parts due to Chainani's writing style. I'm sure it didn't help that I never really liked the character of Sophie, who is one of the two main characters!

    I love the overall idea and Agatha was a great character, but I think I'll leave this future trilogy here and just wait for the movies.
  • (5/5)
    Still suffering Harry Potter withdrawal? Reading lots of books that are good and entertaining, etc., but not quite fulfilling that Harry Potter-sized hole? Me too! Enter "The School for Good and Evil." A true heir to the world of fantasy and humor created by masters like Dianna Wynne Jones and J.K, Rowling, this book was fantastic! Funny and scary and interesting and unputdownable. Read it! Share with your family ! Prepare yourself for the inevitable movie!
  • (5/5)
    It is the common belief that all little girls want to be a princess when they are under the age of 5. Most parents read at least one fairy tale to their daughters at night and with the dominant presence of Disney, it is hard not to get away from this concept. It has always been played that good overcomes evil and the prince saves the princess. The princess has been taught to be a docile lady that cannot defend for herself or nearly think for herself. In the last decade or so the country has made progress in burying this misconception. More and more movies are being created to show both princesses and princes to be independent characters that work together as teams rather than for selfish gain. Often the villains are not always evil, but misunderstood souls that have not had an opportunity to show their true colors. This story is about two such girls named Sophie and Agatha. Sophie has grown up to believe that she is the embodiment of good, while poor Agatha has been told that she is pure evil. Neither girl wants to conform to societies rules nor beliefs and only Sophie truly wishes to believe in fairytales. The book has the characters live in a town that has its children occasionally disappear to reappear in a fairytale the following year. It is Sophie's greatest desire to be the next to vanish and Agatha's greatest annoyance at having to protect her friend. As fate might have it the girls do vanish only to reemerge at a school for villains and heroes. It is a place where only the most evil go and the princes' go to find their princesses. Much to Sophie's horror she finds herself in the school of evil and Agatha in the school for good. How did these girls wind up in the wrong houses? How can they escape and go back home? Is Sophie truly evil and will she perish trying to prove she is not? Is Agatha really an ugly duckling or is she a black hearted villain?I had a lot of fun with this book and truly enjoyed the author's take on good and evil. I don't think I have ever seen a book quite like this before. The author played very well against the common prejudices that most people have built into them from childhood. One phrase that comes to mind easily is the old saying that you, "can never judge a book by its cover". This saying is very true and often people make fools of themselves by unfairly judging others. Time and time again the author demonstrated that this saying was accurate. I have to recommend this book hands down and honestly believe that it would be a great read for any age group. Great job author!
  • (3/5)
    This book is so close to being excellent but it misses the mark. First, as other readers have noted, it's overly long and the author could easily edit out several sections in which no plot or character development occurs. Second, the action is not well described at times, leaving a general (but not a clear) idea of what has happened. On the other hand, the characters are wonderfully depicted. Given the middle school age for which the story is written, they are suitably complex. Yes, "beauty" is often equated with "good" but that notion is also challenged by several characters and events. The audiobook reader truly enhances the work, especially with the dry humor of Agatha and the sweet, lilting voices of the princess instructors.
  • (3/5)
    Started out tedious, like a bad Disney movie starring somebody being mean to Selena Gomez, but the middle was very entertaining. Then he tried for a heartwarming ending. Ugh.
  • (3/5)
    Even now, several days after finishing it, I'm not quite sure how I feel about this book. As a fantasy novel for children and teens, it hits all the usual sweet spots with interesting twists. It's both a school story and a contest story -- imagine if Harry Potter had suffered the Triwizard Tournament in his first year, and you might get a sense of the combination here. It centers on a school that teaches both potential heroes and future villains -- hence, the title -- and so we get to revel in the fun of classes on poisonings alongside how to be a proper princess. It also, refreshingly, features not one but two female protagonists and a number of strong, or at least intriguing, characters of each gender. The relationship between these two girls, one in each school -- and neither exactly where she expected to be -- is the core of the book. And that core is fascinating, emotional, and likely relatable for a great many young readers. As an adult reading this, though, I felt the constraints perhaps a little more than the target audience would. The pacing and the whiplash reversals of characters and loyalties happen at too breakneck a speed for me, much of the time. This was, I think, the first kids book I've ever read where I had to flip back and reread portions just to remember who was on who's side now. Or even who was talking. As I recall -- however distantly -- adolescence is like that sometimes, so I suppose those hurtling plot points and flip-flopping friendships make a kind of sense. There are moments where the tumbling plot slops out of its bounds. There are also moments where, it seems, even the author loses track of the details. That said, however, I found myself turning pages and eager to see what would become of all this switching and swerving. Flaws and all, this book compelled me all the way through to the end, which winds up being pretty perfect for its story. Though there is much familiarity crammed in here, there is also a great deal that feels fresh and clever. And, really, what more can one ask? While it isn't perfect, I think it is worth the time, especially for those young readers who are already fans of its genre.
  • (1/5)
    This hurts me so much to say. Like really. I wanted to enjoy this one so much because the cover is gorgeous and the trailer was good too, but I just didn't. Maybe it would be better in Hardcover, or even a physical copy of the ARC, but most of the problem I had dealt with this book being confusing. At first I really was liking it. But then it got a little boring. Then when the POVs started changing without warning I got confused. I had to keep going back and realizing that they did switch names. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more had it been a real ARC. One thing I did like was the illustrations. As they came up on my Nook, I really thought they looked cool as digital drawings. I would love to see the finished copies. But over time, I kept reading and it got a little boring. It wasn't that there wasn't anything happening, it just felt like the SAME THING kept happening. It felt a little redundant Agatha wanted to get Sophie out of there but Sophie wanted to stay. Every time they went somewhere it happened over and over. So I thought I just wasn't in the mood for that type of story, so I put it down for a little and started on something else. And then I ended up finishing two books before picking this up again. So I just said forget it. I ended up skimming the rest of it and looking to see the big plot twist. All in all, maybe this version just wasn't for me. I'll give it another try when the final version comes out
  • (3/5)
    This book has some really great parts, and the overall plot is actually quite good. However, the execution just falls flat. This book is at least 100 pages too long which makes the plot meander around to the point that I lost track of who wanted what.

    Sophie wants to be in the School for Good. Now she wants to go home. Now she wants Tedros. Now she wants to go home again. Now she wants to stay. Now she's a villain. Now she's not a villain. I couldn't keep up with her mood swings.

    Anyway. It seems like there were more professors in this than in Harry Potter, to the point I couldn't keep track of who was who, and ultimately none of them really mattered so why were there so many to begin with?

    I read an ARC of this. It will be interesting to see how it goes over when it's officially published.
  • (4/5)
    I have been seeing this book pop up on multiple Booktube channels and I thought the premise, two girls from the same village sorted into the wrong schools, an interesting and different one. I ended up loving it. It got 4 stars because there were a few parts that dragged even though I was listening to the audio book and it usually helps me get through those parts The book is about two different schools one for princesses, one for witches and the best of the best will be memorialized by getting their own fairytale. It looks to be a series with the 4th book being recently announced. I cannot wait for the second book to be available at my library so I can listen to it as well.
  • (3/5)
    I am still on the fence on how much I liked this story. It felt like it was trying real hard to reject a binary, but by playing way too much within the rules and structure of the binary. Also maybe queer? Maybe? If the second book falls in my hands, I'll likely read it. But it's not something demanding my attention.
  • (4/5)
    While this one is filed under Middle-Grade, I don't see why it can't be enjoyed by all ages. I'm a strong believer in that fairy tales are not just for children, that the stories and characters in folkloric fantasy can appeal to a much wider audience -- and it's especially entertaining when familiar concepts like "fairy tale romance" or "happily ever after" are being parodied or turned on their heads.That's the idea behind this book; in a village called Gavaldon, two children are kidnapped every four years, never to be seen again. One was always beautiful and good, the other an outcast and strange. It didn't take long for the village children to speculate where these missing boys and girls go. They say a mysterious schoolmaster takes them to the fabled School for Good and Evil, where storybook heroes and villains are made.For as long as she can remember, Sophie has dreamed of being whisked away to the School of Good, imagining a magical world of pretty dresses and handsome princes. On the other hand, she figures her friend Agatha with her homely face and frumpy black clothes would be a perfect fit for the School of Evil. So it's no surprise then when the two were the ones taken way this year. However, when they arrive at the Endless Woods, Sophie is dumped into the school for Evil, while Agatha ends up in the School for Good! This has to be just a terrible mix-up, right? Or is it?How cool is this idea? Let's face it, traditional fairy tales aren't about character development; off the top of my head, Prince Charming and others like him are good examples of characters that don't go beyond being a mere caricature. We don't tend to think beyond what is presented, and that's what makes this book so great. You know the kind of satire we see in Shrek? It's similar here, poking fun at how shallow princesses must be for obsessing only about their beauty and who will take them to the formal ball. It also makes you wonder about the villains, like, do any of them have hopes and ambitions other than cooking up nefarious schemes? Who gets to determine what is good and evil, anyway?Obviously, there also some good messages here. "Beauty is only skin deep" and "believe in yourself" are only a couple amongst many, but it's presented very well in this original and magical tale, all wrapped up in a whimsical package. There are lovely illustrations scattered throughout the book as well, and I can't help but feel grumpy now about the lack of pretty drawings in my adult fantasy novels. Is there a rule or something that pictures can only belong in children's books?! Regardless, this book is so much fun. At once ridiculous and full of heart, I couldn't help but melt for this story and its characters. Oh so cute at times, but sinister and dark at others, this book will enchant you and make you smile.
  • (2/5)
    I had been looking forward to reading this book since it came out. And unfortunately, my wait wasn't worth it.I'm just going to get down to it since you can read the synopsis at the top of the page.We have princes and princesses, witches and all sorts of other disturbing creatures. That's my kind of book. But as I started really getting into it, I was appalled at what I was seeing.I thought I was going to get either a redemption book or a book that teaches real beauty lies within, and physical beauty is only skin deep. What I got was - ugly is evil, beauty is good. That was really the theme except for one really throw away line where Aggie smiles a real smile and people see her differently because she is happy. But, later on, that is even taken away because she grew more beautiful as the story goes on. She changes and looks more like the princess she was supposed to be.Princesses in the story are all awful, shallow, mean twits. There is really only one or two redeeming people in the entire castle. They totally ignore Aggie because she isn't pretty, and they are terribly mean to her when they are confronted with the fact they have to talk to her. THIS NEVER CHANGES UNTIL SHE BECOMES PRETTY. I'm just in awe. Let's teach that beauty is everything. Because the little throwaway scenes where they tried to show "beauty doesn't matter" is eaten up by the scenes where the princesses love Sophie (the actual evil witch) when Sophie shows them how to be PRETTIER.This isn't a book about good and evil, it's a book about a freaking beauty pageant. Aggie was the only character you can give a crap about. No kind, empathetic teachers, no real evil to contend with - unless you count Hester's neck demon. It's like they were afraid to deal with real issues and instead used killing off people and animals in order to create the vile feel. Newsflash - death and destruction aren't the only source of evil. The characters are all so flat and shallow that I could slip the entire bunch of them under my door.We have a PRINCE - yes, seriously - A PRINCE who KICKS A BUNNY! And he's supposed to be swoon-worthy for these princesses? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. He has all this fake internal monologue "when will someone see past my looks and see the real me?" Never, because you're a jerk who gets mad and kicks bunnies and could never believe that someone who doesn't look the way you want her to could be worth your time. BUT - after she starts shining herself up a bit... that's when you make your move. You are starting to feel like there could be more, but you are too ashamed of yourself to admit it. Only when the outside is a nicer package will you do anything about it.Sophie, we had your number from the first page. You never once fooled anyone with your "goodness." I thought maybe a real redemption would happen for her - but nope. And I love at the end of the story, you only want your friend, yet again, because you have nothing else. That's not friendship. That's using whatever "tools" you have at your disposal.And the part at the end that got me?? When the "Nevers" - the evil ones - and the "Evers" - the good ones - get in a fight, their looks changed. The Evers had done something against their rules and imagine this in this story THEY TURNED UGLY. The Nevers followed the Evers rules (defending themselves) and turned beautiful. I have such a major issue with this book. Let's forget the shallow characters, let's forget that friendships in this book (except for Aggie's love of Sophie) are all based on what you can get from the people around you, let's forget that relationships in this book can make or break a princess because a prince can live fine on his own, but the princess HAS TO HAVE a prince - because without one, she is WORTHLESS...Let's forget that beauty is apparently all that matters in life. If we forget about all of that, we have nothing left to the story. At all.Even the way the book ended - total cliffhanger. Way to really kill it. You don't wrap up a darn thing AT ALL. You drag us through a book by the beauty pageant sash through every shallow comment and character only to realize there is NO ENDING. NO ENDING AT ALL. I'm tired of the authors who feel like they don't have to give the readers what they came for. A COMPLETE STORY. You gave us a beginning and a really long middle. No ending, no wrapping anything up. We wanted to finish the book so we can at least say we did, but you never delivered. We held up our part of the bargain. We read it cover to cover, but you decided that you wanted to take us all on a ride and then trick us. Don't give us an ending so we "have" to buy the next book. Well, it's not happening. You tricked me once. It's not going to happen again.and PS... the em dash is a tool. Not the only punctuation available. If I never see another em dash again it will be too soon. Don't overuse punctuation to a point it becomes a distraction. Just sayin'.
  • (4/5)
    Every four years, two village children are kidnapped by a strange force and sent to The School for Good and Evil to learn how to be princes/princesses and villains, respectively. Stereotypical princess-type Sophie and stereotypical witch-type Agatha get whisked away but put in opposite houses: Sophie in Evil, and Agatha in Good. Retold fairy tales are far from new, and there are quite a few unsurprising bits, but overall it was a lot of fun. Fun enough for me to look up the next book in the series, if only to find out what happened to Sophie and Agatha.
  • (4/5)
    Derivative. Nothing really original or brilliant. The characters are pretty flat, the plot was predictable, and the storytelling is stilted.
  • (4/5)
    Diese und weitere Rezensionen findet ihr auf meinem Blog Anima Libri - Buchseele

    Märchen! Oh, wie ich Märchen liebe :D Einer Gründe für die Existenz meines anderen Blogprojekts "Bee Fairytale". Und weil ich Märchen so toll finde, bin ich immer wieder total begeistert, wenn ich Bücher entdecke, die die alten, klassischen Märchen auf neue Art verarbeiten, so wie Soman Chainanis Trilogie "The School for Good and Evil", deren erster Teil "Es kann nur eine geben" heute erscheint.

    Alle vier Jahre werden zwei Kinder - ein gutes und ein böses - aus dem Dorf Gavaldon entführt, nur um dann kurz drauf in einem Märchen wieder aufzutauchen. In diesem Jahr möchte die hübsche Sophie mit ihrem blonden Haar, dem wunderschönen Lächeln und der Vorliebe für hübsche Kleider unbedingt vom Schulmeister entführt werden, damit sie auf der Schule für Gut und Böse zu einer echten Prinzessin ausgebildet werden kann. Und ihre Freundin Agatha ist für sie der perfekte Kandidat für die böse Seite, immerhin lebt sie auf dem Friedhof und sieht bereits aus wie eine Hexe. Doch es kommt anders als gedacht und plötzlich müssen sich die Mädchen auf anderen Seiten als erwartet herumschlagen.

    Soman Chainani erzählt in diesem Kinder-/Jugendbuch eine ganz wundervolle Geschichte, in der er mit den verschiedensten Märchenstereotypen spielt und dabei relativ schonungslos auch immer mal den düsteren Unterton der Originalmärchen anklingen lässt, wenn den Schülern z.B. offenbart wird, dass ein Teil von ihnen als Tiere oder Gegenstände enden wird. Überhaupt fand ich die Art des Autors sehr erfrischend, sowohl sein Schreibstil als auch die gesamte Geschichte, die er erzählt, sind so herrlich anders, dass die Geschichte einfach Spaß macht.

    "The School for Good and Evil: Es kann nur eine geben" ist eine Geschichte nicht nur über Freundschaft, sondern viel mehr darüber, dass vieles oft nicht so ist, wie es scheint, dass innere Werte zählen und der äußere Anschein manchmal ausgesprochen trügerisch sein kann - immerhin ist es nicht die "hässliche" Agatha, die auf der Schule für Böse landet, sondern ihre dem Anschein nach durch und durch prinzessinnenhafte Freundin Sophie. Auch über den Sinn und Unsinn starrer Rollenverteilungen und Schwarz-Weiß-Denkens muss man sich beim Lesen gemeinsam mit den beiden Protagonistinnen Gedanken machen, denn nicht zu Unrecht fragt sich gerade Agatha immer wieder, warum sie als Prinzessin nicht lernt, sich selbst zu verteidigen sondern nur sich zu schminken und ähnlichen Unsinn.

    Alles in allem hat mir Soman Chainanis Serienauftakt "The School for Good and Evil: Es kann nur eine geben" ausgesprochen gut gefallen, die Idee ist klasse und auch die Umsetzung sehr gelungen, nur an einigen wenigen Stellen, waren mir einzelne Situationen dann doch zu überzeichnet oder zu sehr in die Länge gezogen. Trotzdem gibt es eine dicke Empfehlung für diesen humorvollen und intelligenten Kinder-/Jugendroman mit seinen großartigen Charakteren!
  • (2/5)
    I really want to like this book. It certainly has creative vision and holds promise, but I have growing suspicions that the promise is all surface beauty with little story depth underneath.

  • (3/5)
    Two friends are kidnapped and dropped at the school for Good and Evil by a mysterious school master. The choices that Sophie and Agatha make reveal their characters, even if initially they feel they've been assigned to the wrong school based on appearances. Lost of action in the story but some of the major plot twists in the end didn't compel me. It was one of those titles that while I read the first, I'd probably read summaries to see what happens in the rest of the series because the volumes are tomes.
  • (5/5)
    You rarely can read a book by it's cover no matter how beautiful, and some of the most beautiful stories in the world are fairy tales. This book brings forth the question of what makes a real good princess or an evil villain? Who is really beautiful or really ugly?

    I reached half of the book and the one consistent thought in my mind is that I don't believe a person is all evil or all good, and I feel sorry for Sophie and happy for Agatha. Let's see how it all ends.

    In my head Sophie was played by Sasha Pieterse and Agatha was played by Sarah Hyland; great book and amazing character and story development, I can't say more without revealing too much. But this story has some of Hogwarts spirit in it.
  • (4/5)
    I found this a well-written example of its type. The magical school and the good/evil thing aren't particularly novel - and the big twist, and its resolution, are obvious from the beginning if you've read this sort of thing before. However, execution is crucial. It was an enjoyable, fast-paced and lively read with some fun characters and many nice creative touches of the kind children's books can somehow get away with when adult literature hesitates.Following review includes spoilers.For example, Chainani can get away with playing heavily into the Good Beautiful, Evil Pantomime Ugly thing because her setting is explicitly built on fairy-tale reality, where those tropes hold true (as does their subversion). Similarly, I thought the portrayal of the characters struck a nice balance between plausible, entertaining and caught up in the force of the in-story Story. The descriptions of the school rang convincingly in the broad strokes as well as in little details, and the awkward tension of Sophie and Agatha's friendship felt true to life.Oddly enough, though the build-up was strong, the part I struggled with most was the end. Not the ending itself, but the last stage of the book. It felt to me as though there were simply too many layers of revelation, twist and counter-revelation going on, with the result that none of them really had enough breathing space to make a proper impact. There were multiple stages that felt like a climax about to break, and then something else happened instead.Also, to be honest, despite having just finished it, I couldn't tell you exactly what the plot was because it flips so many times. There are certain points where it started to feel as though whatever was happening wasn't actually down to anyone's machinations at all, but simply random events that the author tried to attribute to one character or another. For example, I've no idea what Sophie's actual plan was at the end, and which events were part of it. The ball, yes. I assume the plot to make the schools switch alignments? But was that transformation the sum of her plot, or was it towards some end which I never worked out? Was it a massive diversion for some reason? Did she intend to go to the tower after it all, in which case, why, and why did she need the big scene? If not, why did she go? What was her actual plan for the tower and how did she arrive at it? If the big scene was an opportunity for her to do something big and evil, how does that work when she was apparently metaphysically Good? And why didn't it manifest on the various occasions where individuals behaved in Good and Evil ways during the story? What did she need Agatha for anyway, since the whole thing works without her interfering?Similarly, the relationship between Agatha, Sophie, Teldros and some minor characters shifted so quickly in the last few chapters that it was a big hard to keep straight, especially since there was clearly metaphysical significance to all of it. Even by the lake they rearranged their relationship about three times in as many pages, and this was particularly odd because they all knew they were affecting the fate of the school.Basically it felt like the end was not only convoluted, but also a series of things happening because they were necessary to the story, even though the story didn't quite give them the buildup they needed. This was a bit of a shame.The actual finale was okay (and was, pleasingly, what I'd predicted from the beginning) so it did have a good finish, and I'll be getting the next one.BIG SPOILERS NEXTThe other slight quibble I had was that the story seems oddly inconsistent about what it means to be Good or Evil, and their degree (although this is a universal problem of such books). For example, right at the beginning, the moment where Sophie is accepted by her roommates as evil-worthy is where she points out that she's beautiful and they're ugly - which is actually her argument that she's in the wrong school because she must be good. Similarly, she achieves a top-ranked Evil score when she absently hopes that Agatha hasn't told Teldros they're friends. The story consistently treats these moments of shallowness and passing selfishness as appallingly evil, even though they're surrounded by actual torture, constant cruelty and attempted murder. Sophie abusively manipulating Hort, however, or even the *actual murder* she commits, just seem to be treated as moments of drama. The big transformation scene is similarly handwavy. Yet Agatha seems to get a pass on *her* constant low-level prejudice and temper, including her sporadic bad feelings towards Sophie, because she's the Actually Good one. It's just... odd.Also, a note: some reviewers have commented on a possible LGBT relationship. To me it was not remotely that clear cut; I think there's a faint possibility that may be explored in future, but it seemed far more likely in context that this was a platonic expression of love, of the kind so common in books with a deep theme of friendship. I also don't think the LGBT interpretation would be a *particularly* dramatic twist given the intense relationship between these characters throughout the book. Far less dramatic, frankly, than most of what's happened elsewhere. In fact, you could make an argument that the struggle to understand and express their feelings, and a possible changing relationship - especially in a setting where gender roles are incredibly explicit - would make a lot of sense of their tensions throughout the book, and be a good complement to the main thread.
  • (3/5)
    Hmmmm, I'm kind of torn about this one. Some people really love it, but I had kind of a love/hate relationship with it - with the hate part winning out. If I had liked the characters more it would have made a huge difference. It's hard to care about what happens to people when you don't like them anyway. I couldn't stand Sophie from page 1, and I had a hard time with Agatha because for a smart girl she acted very stupidly. The book was all about their amazing "friendship", but there really was no friendship. There was a mean girl and a groupie. The mean girl did all sorts of horrible things to the groupie, and yet the groupie still stayed loyal to the mean girl. I didn't buy it. And the concept of the book tried to say that what is on the outside doesn't matter, and yet several instances in the book proved that beauty made you "good", and ugly made you "bad". How wrong is it for me to say you could tell it was a story about girls that was written by a man? It is also way too long and took a long time to get going. However, the actual story was original and fun (with many shades of Harry Potter noticeable). There was a lot of action, it was very humorous at times, and it eventually got very exciting. I think it will make a pretty great movie, and thought of it as a movie in my head while I was reading it. I have many middle schoolers who love it. Areas of concern:A lot of violence. Children are kidnapped, tortured, turned into animals.... The list goes on and on. However, it is all presented in such a fairy tale fashion, that it doesn't seem very real.Several reviewers have mentioned that the book ends with a LGBT relationship, but I didn't pick up on that at all. I'm not sure what will happen in subsequent books.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting take on fairy tales, good and evil, friendship, and love. It's a fun story, but also raises deeper issues for the reader about how someone looks and what kind of a person they are. Beautiful Sophie is friends with not so beautiful Agatha who lives in a graveyard and is "different" which usually means evil in Sophie's book. Every year two children are stolen away from their little village - one good child and one who is not very good and taken to the School of Good and Evil where each learns the ropes of becoming a princess or villian, and eventually graduates into their own fairytale. Sophie is sure its her year to become the princess she's always wanted to be and she can't wait, and tells Sophie she's sure to be chosen to the School of Evil. But when Sophie's wish comes true and they are stolen by the mysterious Story Master, Sophie finds herself in the wrong school. She is placed among the children who learn about Uglification and Evil Henchmen, while Agatha ends up in the pretty pink and blue Good School learning how to act like a princess and how to attract her prince. Obviously Sophie feels she's in the wrong place and is desperate to try to find a way to show them she's Good while Aggie just wants to find a way to get them both back home, especially after discovering some disturbing things about what happened to some of the kids from their village who had been stolen in the years before.Lots of cool ideas and imagery - for example, the Blue Forest behind the school where the students learn about how to protect themselves when they enter the real woods. The Blue Forest is a forest made up of all different shades of blues from navy to aqua to pale sky blue. And I liked how the Good School had candy classrooms (made of candy) and glass staircases of pink and blue; a Grooming room where they can go for manicures and makeup lessons while the Evil School has a moat of sludge, staircases of snakes and they are constantly being whipped and tormented. While maintaining a fun story to read, the author does a good job of delvling into deeper issues that raise questions about someone's character versus what they look like, and that how you treat people is what really matters. Is Good really all that good? Agatha learns that in spite of the School's belief that they have pure hearts of Good, they've done some things that don't seem very nice at all and in fact, might be considered pretty horrific. And why does Evil have to be ugly? Is there no goodness in them at all?Lots of food for thought for young readers coming of age who are likely finding themselves worrying if they are pretty enough or smart enough and what can happen to friendships when love enters the picture. The author does a great job of emphasizing that things are not always black or white but likely somewhere in between.I am looking forward to reading the sequel.
  • (5/5)
    A really good bewitching tale about two girls that go to different schools, but everything is not what it seems as they apparently switch places.This is a must read.
  • (4/5)
    Enjoyed the book. However parts were very confusing. Not sure if it was poor writing or a head cold. However, I enjoyed my time at the School for Good and Evil.
  • (5/5)
    This book is so awesome! It had me hooked from the very first sentence: "Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped." Absolutely amazing story. Couldn't get enough of it.

    A beautiful girl and an ugly goth type girl are somehow best friends. They are whisked away to a fairy tale land, The School for Good and Evil. In a strange twist of fate, the pretty one lands in the evil school and the ugly girl finds herself in the pretty school for good. Hilarity ensues.

    From the very beginning, I thought, these girls are totally going to end up in bed together. I won't tell you if they do in fact end up banging, because that would probably spoil the fun. But I can tell you one thing: goth girls are almost always lesbians. There, I said it.
  • (5/5)
    This book is so good that, half-way through it, I am hoping this is the beginning of a trilogy or set of books. This is a very unusual viewpoint for me, as I've grown weary of authors taking three or more books to tell a story they could have told in one. The School for Good and Evil, however, is so delightfully fun to read that I really hope there will be more. I will update this review when I've finished the book (on page 193 of 488 now and it's a very quick read) with my thoughts on how it ends. First, I'm going to go see if there is indeed a sequel waiting for me. :) I certainly hope someone makes this into a movie. I, the lover of the Dollar Theater that I am, would actually pay full price and go right away to see it.
  • (5/5)
    Sophie ad Agatha are best friends who are enrolled in the School of Good and Evil. In the School for Good and Evil ordinary boys and girls learn to be fairytale heroes and villains. Sophie knows that she will go to the School of Good and Agatha will go to the School for Evil. Agatha with her shapeless black flocks, wicked cat, and dislike of nearly everybody ends up going to the School for Good. Sophie with her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds ends up going to the School for Evil. Sophie knows that it is a mistake. It turns out it wasn't because Sophie shows her evilest side of herself and Agatha shows the prettiest of herself. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani is an awesome book to read. He tells the story like he was actually there. I recommend this book to 4th graders that have a high reading level, 5th, and 6th graders. This book is also who believe in fairytales. Chainani has brought out the sequel and the third book. I haven't read them but they are probably as good as the first one. I have never read a book this good.