Title: Rise of the School of Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Published: 1st June 2022
Synopsis: The battle between Good and Evil begins.
Together they watch over the Endless Woods.
Together they choose the students for the School for Good and Evil.
Together they train them, teach them, prepare them for their fate.
Then, something happens.
Something that will change everything and everyone.
Who will survive?
Who will rule the School?
The journey starts here. Every step is filled with magic, surprises, and daring deeds that test courage, loyalty, and who you really are. But they only lead you to the very beginning of the adventures that are THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL.
Brothers Rhian and Rafal run a school that teaches magic, and they split the students into two groups – the Nevers and the Evers, good and evil. Those who get their happy endings and those who don’t. These are students who belong in fairy tales and legends, as the novel is a fairy tale retelling – taking well-known characters such as Aladdin and twisting their story into something new yet recognisable from the tales that we know. Aladdin’s story forms part of the story about how Rhian and Rafal came to create the School of Good and Evil that stars in the series of the same name, so this stand-alone novel is a prequel, from what I could tell during my reading.
Aladdin’s story was for me the most compelling of each thread, so much so that I missed it when the second thread started, but soon the two threads met up and everything started to fall into place and evolved into the story it was meant to be. It is almost like a fractured fairy tale, and if the rest of the series is based on fairy tales as well, I wonder if they’re also meant to be fractured fairy tales or fairy tale retellings. As far as fairy tale retellings go, this was a really clever one and I liked the way it had some familiar tropes and characters, but a new and lively take on things. It was a delightful fantasy world that readers can get into as well, and I think it will be a great addition for current fans of the series, but also a good stand alone for those like me who haven’t read the original series yet.
This was a surprise arrival for me in my book mail, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read it without prior knowledge of the original series, as sometimes prequels do need you to have read the original series. I am glad that I didn’t have this issue with this one, even if some of the characters probably appear in the School for Good and Evil series. The way it blendS fantasy and fairy tales works really well, and I love the way these two aspects come together to tell the story, whilst creating an almost contemporary yet ethereal and fantastical feel, where the characters are modern yet the story feels ageless and timeless. It is a world where the trappings of modernity don’t exist yet we can imagines ourselves living in this world as well, and there are a few new things, and some recognisable things as well that allow the worlds to come together.
I think fans of the series will enjoy this book, and people like me who are new to the series will enjoy it as well, as it can be picked up quite easily. It drew me in, and I was enthralled by the story as it unfolded, and I hope that people enjoy this book, because it has something for all those who choose to read this in it, and it manages to use magic and fantasy tropes well and create something new from them.