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The School for Good and Evil (School for Good and Evil Series #1)

The School for Good and Evil (School for Good and Evil Series #1)

4.4 364
by Soman Chainani

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This year best friends Sophie and Agatha will discover what it is to be a student at the fabled School for Good and Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy-tale heroes and villains. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess.


This year best friends Sophie and Agatha will discover what it is to be a student at the fabled School for Good and Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy-tale heroes and villains. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shape-less black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they 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, among handsome princes and fair maidens in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale . . . is to live through one.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At first glance, Chainani's debut appears to resemble the trend-following herd. There's the secret school that sorts its students into apparently predestined categories, courtesy of J.K. Rowling. There's the knowing, slightly shocking narration, full of farts and greasy hair, borrowed from Roald Dahl via Lemony Snicket. But Chainani's story gradually takes on dimension. Sophie and Agatha are plucked from their hometown of Gavaldon, where children are voracious readers of fairy tales. A skeletal bird drops them at the School for Good and Evil, populated by the living embodiments of these tales—princesses, princes, and villains in training. The girls soon discover, however, that these fledgling stereotypes have never read the stories. Sophie and Agatha are the only "Readers" in their class—shunned, mocked, but also feared. While the notion that conventions of good and evil don't tell the whole truth is hardly new, exploring the middle ground moves Chainani's novel out of its own ruts and, in the process, shows readers a hyperactively imaginative way to leave black-and-white thinking behind. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jane Startz, Jane Startz Productions. (May)
Gregory Maguire
Invention in overdrive…The School for Good and Evil is a comedic education by a writer primed to shoot to the head of the class.
R. L. Stine
“Wow. From the very first sentence, you know you’re entering a thrilling world of strange fantasy... A wild and dangerous fairy tale ride. I loved this book.”
Ann M. Martin
“A fairy tale like no other, complete with romance, magic, humor, and a riddle that will keep you turning pages until the end.”
David Magee
“Chainani has imagined the world where fairy tales come to life, where for every fairy princess with a ‘Happily Ever After’ in her future there is a villain with a tragic fate in store. But in The School for Good and Evil it’s not always certain which is which.”
Tor Seidler
“In Chainani’s richly imagined world the action never lets up for a nano-second. Young readers won’t be able to stop turning the pages till they reach the surprising and satisfying conclusion.”
Maria Tatar
“Chainani takes the racing energy of Roald Dahl’s language and combines it with the existential intensity of J.K. Rowling’s plots to create his own universe. THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL uses the sorcery of words and the poetry of friendship to startle, enchant, and keep us turning pages.”
Entertainment Weekly
“[A] whip-smart debut...If I could bewitch you all to read it, I would. Grade: A.”
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Most girls do not expect to be kidnapped, much less anticipate it. But Sophie is not like most girls, and she has been planning for this day for some time. Every four years, two children disappear from her village of Gavaldon. Later, the children can be seen in the pages of the fairy tale books that mysteriously appear on the doorstep of the bookseller—one as a good character and one as a bad. Sophie is determined to go whether those children go and to claim "her" rightful place as a fairy tale princess. After all, Sophie is the prettiest and best person she knows. The role of "evil," she believes, can be filled by her peer, Agatha. Growing up ugly in a cemetery practically assures it. The kidnapping, however, does not go as Sophie expects. She finds herself in the "Evil" school, while Agatha ends up in "Good"! Has the world gone mad? What is the mysterious Story Master thinking? Who is he, and what is his ultimate goal in all of this? Most importantly, will Sophie be able to win the handsome Prince Tedros (son of King Arthur) in spite of their different schools, and secure her fairy tale "happily ever after"? What will it mean if either girl fails in the school to which she has been assigned? Will Agatha find a way for them to return home? Word on the street is that the only way "out" of school is through the story, and animosity is brewing between the schools. Will they even survive? Stories based on fairy tales have experienced a revival, but Chainani is a unique spin on the idea. The setting is completely new, the challenges dire, and the characters well-developed. It is no wonder this book has been a New York Times bestseller. This is the first book in a trilogy. Do not miss the "Are You an Ever or a Never" quiz on the publisher's website. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
Kirkus Reviews
Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire's Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied. Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they've been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually--too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic--it becomes clear that the placement wasn't a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish). Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Every four years in the village of Gavaldon, two children are stolen away by a mysterious person known only as the Schoolmaster. These children become students at the School for Good and Evil. One will be taught the ways of goodness, honor, and beauty; the other will be instructed in the ways of darkness and villainy. Twelve-year-old Sophie just knows she's destined to be picked for the school of Good this year, and can't wait to assume the role of a princess and meet her Prince Charming. Her best friend, Agatha, is surely villain material with her dumpy looks, black clothes, and dour demeanor. So how is it that Sophie winds up in the School for Evil and Agatha the School for Good? Now both girls must work to succeed in their new roles or face dire consequences. The girls' friendship will be put to the test in ways they never imagined. This debut fantasy will attract sophisticated readers with a love of fairy tales, particularly the dark side of them. Despite some redundant scenes and pacing issues, there's plenty of action and emotion to keep an audience well entertained. Fans of Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm (Dutton, 2010) and Shannon and Dean Hale's graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge (Bloomsbury, 2008) will be swept along in this wild story of good, evil, and two friends caught in between.—Stephanie Whelan, New York Public Library

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
School for Good and Evil Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.60(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years


What People are Saying About This

Gregory Maguire

Invention in overdrive…The School for Good and Evil is a comedic education by a writer primed to shoot to the head of the class.

Meet the Author

Soman Chainani's first novel, The School for Good and Evil, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into languages across six continents, and will soon be a major motion picture from Universal Pictures.

As a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University's MFA Film Program, Soman has made films that have played at over 150 festivals around the world, and his writing awards include honors from Big Bear Lake, New Draft, the CAPE Foundation, the Shasha Grant, and the Sun Valley Writers' Fellowship.

When he's not telling stories, Soman is a die-hard tennis player who never lost a first-round match for ten years . . . until he started writing The School for Good and Evil. Now he loses all the time.

Customer Reviews

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The School for Good and Evil 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 364 reviews.
Amabe421 More than 1 year ago
This book was so fun!! I got completely lost in it and couldn't seem to get enough. The characters, the story, everything just came together so well! I was lost in the magic and the fairy tale world. I was excited to know what their story would be. What a cool premise!! This book was pure excitement for me. I haven't felt so lost in a world since reading Harry Potter. This was a fantastic start to what is sure to be a series people will fall in love with! Sophie has wanted to be a princess her whole life. She has prepared for it. She is a firm believer of the rumor that each year two children are taken, one for good, and one for evil. When she gets taken and ends up in the school for evil she thinks there had to have been a mix up. Of course we soon learn that she is not really good and pure. She is in fact selfish, self centered, and not really very nice at all. The thing is, she really thinks that she is. She was a hard character to like personality wise, but I absolutely loved her. She made the story amazing! Agatha who is boring, drab, and not pretty should have been in the school of evil right? Not a chance. She doesn't fit in with the gorgeous, well mannered princess girls, but her inner good is what makes her beautiful. It's clear from the very beginning that she is right where she belongs in the school for good. I loved that she was always so willing to help people, especially Sophie. Sophie was so mean and insulting to her, but she cares about her. She will always be there for her friend. I really loved Agatha! She was the root of the story for me. There is of course romance. What kind of fairy tale would it be without one? I would like to say that I liked the love interest, but he was a bit of a shallow jerk at times. I did like him, but I thought that he could have been a little nicer. He has his issues though, so I can see where that stems from. I thought the way the romance was done was absolutely brilliant. I won't really go into it more than that, but it was really great!! This book was amazing story wise, but what made it even more fabulous was listening to the audio. The narrator captured the characters and the story so well. I was enchanted by the story telling and could not have asked for a better narrator for this particular book. I loved this book, but the audio was the icing on the cake! Full of action and adventure, this is a must read book. I enjoyed every single second of it. Filled with great characters, and a fantastic setting, this is sure to please! There is a bit of a cliffhanger ending, but it's not so much you want to tear your hair out. I can't wait to see where the story goes next. If you are looking for a great audio, this is one you will want to get, but the physical copy is full of beautiful illustrations also that really enhance the enjoyment. I would recommend this book to anyone!! *A copy of this was provided by the publisher for an honest review *Actual rating on on my blog is 4.5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry guys, but... Stop the role plays please! (Not just warrior ones). I want to see reviews! I loved this book, and i wanted to see what other people thought about it... Not rps. O_O Click yes if you agree with me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great. It's a super smart take on fairy tales. Instead of the same old, tired retelling with the same characters, this book creates a whole new world and a lot of great new characters. The story is pretty simple -- a princess and a witch in different schools, but the book twists and turns in a way that makes it impossible to predict what happens next. It has the magic and scares you expect from a book with a title like 'The School for Good and Evil', but there's also a lot of really funny humor to it. The book never really reads like a kid's book, which is great. I think it has high potential to be the book of the Summer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was skeptical this book might be a little too kiddie even for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed reading every page and that is really all I could ask for. Feels like a classic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the first of a trillogy. Captivating read. Was sad to finish it, but looking forward to the next two installments to see how it ends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 13, so I guess I'm a little old for this book, but I loved it. I have always enjoyed fairytales, and this added a great new spin. Also, just saying, the kiss at the end is not romantic. They are young girls and very close. Come on, her best friend was dying! Also, they clearly state it. A princess and a witch, friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To all the people mad about the final kiss, it wasnt a romantic kiss. They're best friends! If your best friend was about to die & the only way to save them was to kiss, wouldnt you do it?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolute genius. 
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
The School for Good and Evil is a clever, fun read that explores the human heart and what it means to be good and evil. Agatha is a recluse, she isn't pretty, and her only company is a black cat named Reaper. Sophie spends hours on beauty care, she dresses like a princess, and she believes in fairy tales. Everyone thinks that Agatha will be sent to the School for Evil, and Sophie knows that she'll be sent to the School for Good. Realist, mistrustful Agatha could never fit in with the gorgeous princesses, and how would naïve, wanna-be-princess Sophie survive among evil witches? That's all if you look at the surface, however. Despite her gruff ways, Agatha is kind and caring. She considers Sophie her best friend and looks after her in spite of all the mean things Sophie can say. In comparison, Sophie is selfish, greedy, and as we learn, has a vindictive side to her. Personality-wise, it's so easy to love Agatha. She's down to earth and isn't the kind of girl to wait for Prince Charming to come save her. In fact, she's the kind of girl who'll step in to save him if it looks like he can't help himself. She also isn't afraid to speak her mind, and I just love her dry sense of humor and the sensation she makes at the School for Good. (Not in a positive way, but amusing all the same.) It's harder to like Sophie, the spoiled brat that she is. And yet, I grew to love her character and what it adds to the story. Agatha is good and kind from the start. It's Sophie that needed to grow, and in spite of the things she ends up doing, she's the one that really made me question the meaning of good and evil. Even if this is a fairy tale about two girls, there has to be romance to make the story complete. I adore how the romance is handled. He can be a jerk at times, and like Agatha I didn't know what Sophie saw in him at first. In time, however, more about him is revealed, and I could see the good in him. It was fun learning who is who's true love. This story isn't afraid to make fun of its characters and where they're all coming from. More than that, I love how it pushes the boundaries of good and evil and how it shows us that we can all be more than what people expect of us. And that girls don't necessarily need a prince to make them a princess. It's been a while since I've read such a fun story about princes and princesses. This is a fairy-tale story that readers of all ages will enjoy. While this is a book that can stand on its own, I am glad that there is a trilogy in the making and can't wait to read the next installment! More news! Roth Films has partnered with Jane Startz Productions to acquire the movie rights to The School for Good and Evil. Chainani and Hook scribe Malia Scotch Marmo are to write the screenplay. When I was reading this book, I was thinking about how fun it'd be to see it on the screen, so I'm thrilled that it's actually going to happen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i think this will be a great girls book because it has everything a girl could dream of!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read alot of awesome books. But this one, by far, is the best ever! I loved the plot twists especially the major one. Unless you read the summary, who would have thought that would happen? Seriously! I hope that this author writes a sequel because this book is awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book ever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is a work of art. Not a fingerpainting or a second graders picture but a master piece!!! it was so sweet and had lots of action. I love this book and problby will read it 3 or 4 times! Worth every penny! READ IT!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
it's an awesome book[and i'd put ten exclamation points but I can't find the exclamation point on the keyboard]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome!I don't have it on my nook,I have the real book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a great twist on the fairy tale world. I can totally see this as a cartoon movie one day. But I doubt they will turn it into one, though they totally should!!!!! If your a Grimm lover or fairy tale fanatic this is a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the thought of Sophie x Agatha romance. We should be a more open minded society nowadays. So if the final kiss bothered you that is your problem. The book was genius anyway. I support Sophie amd Agatha. There is a lot to hint at it. Agatha gies on how she doesnt like boys, Sophie wants to dance with her snd the kiss.
WordsOfLife More than 1 year ago
I was truly amazed by this book.... But may I first say that this is more of a teen book despite the fact it says ages 8-12, because if my sibling was a year older I would forbid them to read it.. The School For Good And Evil is absolutely outrageously epic for a twisted fairy tale. The ending does indeed have a heart ripping cliff hanger though which answers questions but leaves us all still wondering "What the Heck just Happened" and "Why must it end already!" Also, Anyways the cover seems a bit girly, this book would also have the same effect on guys. You MUST read this book if you want to be Amazed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A one of a kind book were you cant seem to turn yourself away from it. I had to stop my self from reading it to much so i cqn prolong the experince.
Awesomeness2 More than 1 year ago
jstarbar More than 1 year ago
A brilliant book. It has everything-- pathos, adventure, romance and two lead characters who readers will love. Sophie and Agatha break the mold and are original, spirited heroines for our time. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the reviews first, and was delighted to find many readers shared the same sentiments as I do when it comes to books like this. I must say, everyone, including myself, are thankful for not passing it up. The characters are not simply cookie cutter, stereotypical, good versus evil - they have depth. That includes the "good girl" Sophia who wants to be a princess. Both hers and her friend's (Agatha) transformations throughout the book are remarkable. The basis is every few years "good" children and "bad" children are whisked away to a private school where they are to be trained in their respective fields. The more successful will be villains/heroes /princess, while the others will be sidekicks or henchmen. The best receive their own fairytale - which is where all the stories we know come from. Agatha wants nothing more than to go home, and it's the friendship between her and Sophie that is what drives her and their dramatic adventure. I also think that the character of Agatha is important to young girls when it comes to how one looks and stereotyping. By the end of the book, you'll understand what I mean, but I will say she stops listening to everything she has been told, and finally sees herself as the amazing young girl she really is. Such a great story, I blew through it in no time. Great for anyone, despite being made for a younger audience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book i have ever read. If anyone loves total suspense and shocking fictionthis book is definetley for you. I was on edge the whole time i was reading this trying to guess what would happen next but instead was shocked again. LOVED IT. Get this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a WONDERFUL book! At times it had you lauging and cring and had you curious about what was going to happen next the whole time!