Let’s be honest, I picked this up exclusively for the cover art. Gorgeous! So much to my surprise, this turned out to be one of my favorite reads so far this year. Essentially this story is about two girls, Agatha and Sophie and their ever evolving friendship at a school for future fairytale characters. It’s hard to adequately sum up why this book was so amazing without giving into a bunch of spoilers, so I’m going try a different approach.
- Spirited, opinionated, imperfect narrators. Sophie and Agatha aren’t cutesy fairy tale girls, they are very much flawed, deeply troubled girls which makes you instantly care about what their journey will become. References to fairytales in a quirky new way.
- Much of the cast are relatives of greater fairytale characters. Darker fairytale elements and plot twists. Like all the old fairytales, there are a few deeply disturbing facts of life for students of the school of good and evil, which made it creepy and far more interesting. Even outside of the core plots of the story, failing classes, or ranking poorly would mean tragic, gruesome or downright wicked fairytale endings.
- Sophie and Agatha’s relationship reminded me a lot of Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked, but in a more mature way which was surprising considering that these characters are far younger and the readership probably is too.
- The world building and throw away details provided and richly woven backstory that was refreshing even to someone who is deeply familiar with fairytales and retellings.
- The one weak point of the novel was the adult cast. While the school is primarily about the students, the teachers and staff seem more like neglectful babysiters rather than caring educators. They don’t listen, have little use for true events and are kind of useless and clueless when it gets down to it.
Overall this was deeply satisfying. If you like fairytales at all, please check this out. Highly recommend.