Sometimes it's good to be bad...
Charmed is the exciting sequel to the wildly popular Flunked second in the brand new Fairy Tale Reform School series where the teachers are (former) villains. "Charming fairy-tale fun." Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series.
It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia's most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School...indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.
Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her. As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don't laugh) to unmask a spy...before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.
Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it's good to be bad...
Praise for Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked
"Fairy Tale Reform School has a clever concept and a fresh and funny take on the enchanted world. (I always wanted to know what happened to Cinderella's stepmother too!)"-Julia DeVillers, author of the Liberty Porter, First Daughter series and co-author of the Trading Faces series
"Spell-binding and wickedly clever."-Leslie Margolis, author of the Annabelle Unleashed novels and the Maggie Brooklyn mysteries
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Read an Excerpt
Miri's voice crackles through the magic mirrors in Fairy Tale Reform School. "Let the first annual Wand What You Want hour begin!"
Wands begin popping up in kids' hands as we walk through the halls, and we all cheer. Pop! My wand arrives in my hand-long, dark gray, and nicked like it's seen a few battles. Hmm...what to try first... I'm just about to test the wand out when I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Instinct tells me to dive out of the way. When I look up, I see a classmate spelling the troll next to her. The girl turns into an ice sculpture. Geez, that was close. I better stay alert.
Pop! Pop! Pop! Kids begin casting all around me. The crowded hallway is suddenly full of talking woodland creatures, toads, fireworks, and a pretty impressive cloud raining licorice. Kids are cheering and fighting, and the sound of all those wands working is enough to give me a headache. I hurry away from the spell zapping, looking for somewhere to practice alone.
The chaotic hallway disappears behind me, and a new empty hall arrives in its place. I happen to know this hall leads to the school courtyard so I hurry down it and head outside. Ahhh...this is more like it. The warm sun is shining bright high above the castle walls, making me wistful for adventure. I can never sit still for long.
"Pardon the interruption! We hope you are enjoying your wand experience, but remember, all wands disappear at the hour mark so choose your magic wisely," Miri says. I'm relieved to find no mirror in the courtyard, which means she can't see what I'm up to. That magic mirror is forever tattling on students for bad behavior. "As a reminder, flying is not advised."
"Not advised, but she didn't say it was against the rules," I say to myself. I flick the wand over my stuffy, uncomfortable pale-blue uniform and turn it into a comfy peasant shirt and pants. I swap out my ugly school shoes for my beloved lace-up boots. Now that I'm comfortable, I get to the task at hand. I'm sure an actual spell would work better, but since I don't know one, I just imagine myself flying and-bam! I'm slowly floating up, up, up in the air. Score!
A Pegasus flies by me pulling a coach with four students in it.
"Hi, Gilly!" they shout and wave.
When you save your school from a wicked fairy, people tend to remember your name. Even if you don't remember theirs.
"Hi!" I say, lying back like I'm floating on a cloud. Wow, this is relaxing. I stretch my arms wide and-oops!
My wand falls from my grasp. Uh-oh. I begin to plummet, spinning faster and faster with no sign of stopping. Before I can even think of a way to break my fall, whoosh! I feel my body hit a blanket and bounce up, then land again on a magic carpet.
"Ten minutes into Wand What You Want, and you're already having a near-death experience?" my friend Jax asks. His curly blond hair looks white in the bright sunlight. He casually waves his own wand in my direction with a glint in his violet eyes. "You're getting sloppy."
"I'm not getting sloppy!" I'm seriously offended by that statement. "How'd you even know where to find me?"
"I thought to myself, ‘What would Gilly do with wand access for an hour?' and I knew right away you'd try to sneak home for a bit," Jax says. "Let's give it a go, shall we?"
My usual partner in crime steers our magic carpet over the castle walls and across the vast school grounds. Below I can see students fanned out on castle rooftops, in the garden mazes, and near the lake, all casting away with various results. Jax flies the carpet faster, the wind whipping our hair and making it hard to see. I push the hair away from my eyes and strain to see home.
There beyond the silver turrets of Royal Manor, where the princesses who rule our kingdom live, is my small village of Enchantasia. Somewhere down there, my family is working, playing, and hopefully missing me as much as I miss them. The carpet is nearing the Hollow Woods-which separates us and the village-and I lean forward. It's going to happen. We're going to leave school and see them! Closer we fly to the treetops...closer to the forest filled with ogres...closer to leaving school grounds when-CRACKLE!
Our magic carpet is suddenly stunned by an invisible wall that keeps us from escaping the school grounds. A magical scroll drops from the sky into our laps. "Leaving school grounds is forbidden!" it says in sparkling script that glows red like a warning. "Please return to the castle at once!" It's signed "Headmistress Flora."
"Smooth, Flora," Jax says. "Putting a barricade in the sky during wand training was clever."
"Leaving was a long shot, but maybe I could wave my wand and at least see what my family is up to," I say and gasp. "My wand! I need to go get it."
"Lose something, Gilly?" Our friend Maxine pilots a small flying swan boat I recognize from the Mother Goose carnival that was at school this past weekend. How does Maxine have one of those boats? Hmm... Bigger question: What's she doing in midair? Ogres don't usually like to be off the ground.
Maxine's right eye spins in its socket as she makes her way toward us with a crooked smile. Her thick neck is covered in layers of necklaces and the jewels she used to like to steal. (That's how she got thrown in FTRS. My offense was pickpocketing and shoplifting.) Maxine tosses the wand toward me but it's snatched away.
"Come and get it!" Jax's roommate, Ollie, shouts. He's flying on the back of a black baby dragon, which does not seem smart. Ollie dives back toward the courtyard and Jax, Maxine, and I follow, landing seconds later in the courtyard I left only minutes before. I jump off the carpet and grab my wand from Ollie before his baby dragon can eat it. But I don't need to worry because-poof!-the dragon disappears.
"A baby dragon on school grounds?" My roommate, Kayla, waves her wand in the air dangerously, and I worry about what she could zap next. Her wings pop out of her back and she flutters to Ollie's side. As a fairy, Kayla can shrink to the size of a teacup, but at the moment, she towers over Ollie, white-blond hair whipping in the wind. "That thing could burn down the whole school."
"We've already had that almost happen," Jax jokes. "Let's not do it again."
"Fine," Ollie says dejectedly. "I really wanted a pet." His eyes light up. "Snack break!" He waves his wand at the ground and conjures up an apple pie as big as the magic carpet I was just on. Poof! He also creates a supersize ice cream sundae and a plate of cookies as big as Maxine. He waves the wand again and a picnic basket, blanket, and plates appear on the grass beside it. "Let's eat!"
"We could use some ambiance," says Kayla who quickly transforms a dead rosebush into a beautiful plant with eye-popping roses in shades of fuchsia, electric blue, and lime green. Kayla flutters over to the blanket to help Ollie dish out dessert. He's using his wand as a cake knife and slicing pieces as big as my arm.
"Don't forget the music," says Maxine. She waves her wand in the air, and a flock of birds appears on a tree above us. They begin to chirp and hum in harmony. "Yes! It worked!" Maxine trudges over to the blanket happily, her ogre feet leaving deep footprints in the grass.
"Flora must have lost her mind to let a bunch of reform-school kids use wands for an hour," Jax says, flashing me a smile so blinding that I wish I had shades.
Poof! I use my wand to conjure up a pair. Sweet! I wish we could use wands every day instead of just in How a Wand Works 101. Madame Camille, our uptight fairy teacher, never lets us sign them out for homework, and every time someone screws up by zapping off their pinkie or growing their nose to three times its size, she says, "This is why Enchantasia doesn't allow wands 'til you're twenty-one!"
If I'd had a wand when I lived in the village, I wouldn't have had to steal food to help feed my brothers and sisters in our overcrowded boot. I could have just conjured up the finest treats Gnome-olia Bakery had to offer with a flick of my wrist. Then I wouldn't have been sentenced to Fairy Tale Reform School. From the outside, this place looks like your average school. But inside we have hallways that move every time you use them, a talking magic mirror who tattles on you if you step out of line, a class taught by a mer-teacher inside a giant fish tank, and professors who all are former villains. How do you like them poison apples?
FTRS is nothing like that snooze-fest shoemaker trade school I used to attend and will have to go back to when I prove I have transformed my villainous ways into upstanding ones. Some days-when villains aren't trying to kill me-I'm bummed about being sprung from this joint. Especially when I think about leaving this crew.
"Look, I get Flora disappearing to help Professor Wolfington suppress his wolf side again, but where has she been since he came back?" Jax continues. "We never see her around school, and now she's letting us take wands out for a spin? Something's up."
"I'm with Jax," Maxine says, apple oozing down her chin as she chews. "My mini magical scroll has been showing me weird messages like ‘She'll reappear when you're all distracted' instead of articles from Happily Ever After Scrolls."
Ollie gives me a look. Maxine swears her mini magical scroll is sending her messages, but mini magical scrolls only report the daily Enchantasia news. She seems to think her scroll is magical. Okay, more magical.
"Yesterday it said, ‘Prepare. She is coming soon.'" Maxine cuts another slice of pie for herself that is as big as her head. "Who is coming? Flora? I quickly hid my scroll since I was supposed to be doing homework."
"I think Flora is just trying to give us some freedom," I say. "If they don't give us freedom every now and then, how are they going to see whether we're reforming?"
"Yeah, Maxine. Can't you just be happy we have an afternoon off from Villain to Hero: How to Make the Switch?" Kayla asks.
Maxine frowns. "I actually kind of miss Dragon Slaying 101, but sometimes learning about a dragon's weak spots is enough to make me want to breathe fire."
I sit up. "That gives me an idea." I begin to aim my wand but Jax stops me.
"I'm serious, guys," Jax says quietly. "Alva's on the loose, someone is spilling royal secrets, and Flora keeps disappearing. Don't you want to know what's going on?"
Jax is an undercover royal at a reform school. Of course he wants to sort things out and go back to being all royally. (He is secretly Rapunzel's brother, not that she knows that. She thinks he's off at boarding school, and Jax's dad had the royal court's memories bewitched so no one recognizes him.) And yes, I want to go home to my family, but in the past two months I've saved royals, kept our school from burning down, and had T-shirts made with my name on them. I need a short recess to relax.
"Can't we take an hour off from being good guys and enjoy doing something a bit wicked?" I conjure up Jax's favorite pie-figgy pudding-and his eyes go wide. "Let's eat before we plot!"
My friends and I begin slicing up the desserts in front of us when poof! They disappear right in front of our eyes.
"Hey!" Ollie's fork hangs in the air over a now-empty plate. "Who did that?"
I look around the courtyard. Through the stained glass windows inside the school, I can see flashes of light every time a wand is used. Some hallways are filled with water where mermaids swim with ease and students have transformed into sharks and octopuses. Other windows show students dressed like princesses and pirates, while another set of windows shows mischief that could get those kids detention for a week with Madame Cleo. But I couldn't see a single person pointing a wand our way.
Then I hear a sinister laugh. I exhale sharply and look closer at my surroundings. I point my wand directly at the black gargoyle statue near the courtyard door that I don't remember seeing earlier. The statue starts to spark and then it transforms into a girl with long, dark hair in a black dress covered with stars and moons.
"Ouch! That hurt!" Jocelyn rubs her butt, which has a burn mark on one of the half-moons. "You singed my dress!"
"You stole our dessert." I wave my wand, wondering what I could do to Jocelyn next. Turn her into a toad? Make her wear a pink princess dress since she's allergic to any color but black? Lock her in a tower to keep her from casting any more spells?
"Sorry for the interruption, students," Miri's voice is back over the magical loudspeaker system. "Headmistress Flora would like me to remind you that illegal use of magic-such as escape attempts, turning your roommate into a toad, or using wand work for monetary gain-is not allowed. Today's Wand What You Want experiment is to see how you handle having a bit of wand freedom. Remember that. Thank you!"
"Did you want to join us?" Maxine asks awkwardly. She may be slightly afraid of the Evil Queen's little sister, but I'm not. Professor Harlow is now tucked away in the FTRS dungeons. Why Headmistress Flora allowed Jocelyn to stay in school is beyond me.
"She's not welcome here," I say calmly. "Give our food back."
Jocelyn shrugs. "Make me."
I use my wand to make the food reappear.
Jocelyn zaps it and makes it disappear.
I bring the food back.
Jocelyn makes it vanish.
Appear, disappear, appear, disappear.
Finally I snap. With my wand high above my head, I lift Ollie's giant apple pie and let the whole thing drop on Jocelyn's head. She screams. "Score!" I shout.
"Gilly, don't start with her," Kayla says, growing nervous. She's still a bit jittery around villains. I can't say I blame her. She was blackmailed by Alva for years, forced to help the evil fairy in exchange for information on the whereabouts of her missing family. (Who are now trees. It's complicated.)
"I'm fine!" I say, but while I'm laughing, Jocelyn is conjuring. Smack! A piece of pudding pie flies into my face.
"How does the pudding taste, Cobbler?" Jocelyn taunts. "I bet you guys could never afford pudding in your boot."
"We can now, while you're an orphan with an evil sister in lockup." I shoot a cherry pie at her face. It explodes and covers her with cherries. Hee. I look to Kayla for approval, but that "orphan" comment leaves her cold. Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh. I'm so busy staring at Kayla that I don't feel the crackle 'til it's too late.
"My hair!" I screech as my head begins to glow for a second, then stops. I feel my hair. It's all still there. I exhale. "Ha! Your spell didn't work!" I sing out.
"Um, Gilly?" Ollie asks. "Did you always have a purple streak in your hair?"
I pull the front of my hair forward and gasp. A deep purple stripe is now running through my long, brown hair. Jocelyn bursts out laughing.
"Change it back!"
Jocelyn shrugs. "Can't. I didn't spell you. I cursed you. It can't be undone."
"Why you..." Zap! I send a vat of chocolate ice cream raining down on her head.
"Enough!" Ollie says as a wall of dead fish smacks him in the face, leaving a slimy trail on his light-brown skin.
"You can't do that." Jax sounds funny holding his nose. He quickly conjures up a massive bowl of cooked spinach, which hits Jocelyn with a loud splat.
Soon food is flying through the air like hail. Broccoli is raining from the rooftop. Mashed potatoes create walls we can use as barricades. Radishes hit Kayla in the head and give her welts. We're so busy conjuring up food that we don't hear the sound at first.
The noise and the low rumble that follows are enough to make us all jump.
Kayla wipes stew from her hair. "What was that?" She sounds worked up.
Jocelyn spits out cherry pits that have appeared in her mouth. "Don't get your wings twisted. I'm sure Professor Biggins just misfired a potion he was working on."
"If there was a reason to panic, the alarms would have gone off." I listen carefully.
This time the sound is so loud that we grab each other to keep from falling.
The school security system is going off. Seconds later, our wands disappear along with the picnic, Maxine's swan boat, magic carpet, and my comfy clothes. My dreaded uniform is back, but that's not my biggest concern. I know what we're all thinking: the last time the alarm tripped was when we had a break-in from Alva.
"I'm going," I say and head toward the courtyard door.
"So am I." Jocelyn tries to beat me to the doorway. We each try to push the other out of the way.
I push her back. "You just want the distraction to help your sister escape the dungeons. I'm not going to let you help her!"
"Try to stop me!" Jocelyn pushes me so hard that I fall. I quickly jump up and follow her into the hallway. It's chaos. Students are running in every direction, but I follow Jocelyn's food-splattered dress. I can hear my friends calling me, but I don't stop.
"Students, this is Headmistress Flora speaking." I hear Cinderella's formerly wicked stepmother's voice ring out from the castle's mirrors. "Please proceed to your dorm rooms. We have the situation under control. There is no cause for alarm."
A hallway switches in front of me, but I dive through it and land right on top of Jocelyn. We're somehow outside again-the new hallway leads us to the school lake.
"Ouch!" Jocelyn yells as my friends fly out of yet another hallway, dropping onto the same grassy patch near the water.
"Holy shipwreck!" Ollie says, pointing to something in the distance on the water. I hear a commotion and shouting. "Duck!"
We drop to the ground just in time to see a cannonball whiz past our heads.
"Um, guys?" Kayla's frown deepens. "What's a pirate ship doing in the lake at Fairy Tale Reform School?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the second story in the Fairy Tale Reform School series, we are back in Enchantasia, the land of all the fairytale characters. Even though Gilly and her friends saved the day in Flunked, they are still students at FTRS. The students are pretty much the same, but with Harlowe (The Evil Queen) in the dungeon, Blackbeard the Pirate has been added to the staff. Unfortuntely, Harlowe escapes with the help of Alva, the wicked fairy and they begin recruiting to take over Enchantasia. Gilly's character becomes involved with the "Royal Ladies in Waiting" club at the request of Princess Rose. She quickly becomes entranced by Rose, the girls in the group and the hero worship and decides that she will find out on her own, her the mole is at FTRS. All her friends, are upset with her as well as her family. She quickly learns, however, that she can not go it alone if she expects to battle the evil villains in Enchantasia. But who should she trust? Who is the mole? Gilly continues to show her strength and guts, but does have some moments of doubt and issues of self-confidence. With the help and encouragement of her friends, once again, she is able to save the day. This story was a bit more predictable than the first one, but it was still entertaining and interesting. I liked that this book showcased teamwork, co-operation, friendship and humility. Once again this is a great middle grades series showing strong female characters.
It was so wonderful returning to Fairy Tale Reform School! If you haven't read it yet, you really should check out the first book in the series Flunked. You can find my review for it on my blog - Reading is Better With Cupcakes. That being said, since this is the second book in the series, there may be some minor spoilers for the first book within. So read on at your own risk. Charmed takes off pretty much where Flunked ended. We are still at the Fairy Tale Reform School and we still have most of the same characters. Blackbeard does join the cast as one of the teachers, and one of the princesses does make quite a few more appearances than before, but our core cast of students is still pretty much the same. However, in Charmed, Gilly is a bit more stuck on herself than she was in the last book. She has let being a "hero" go to her head and sometimes forgets that her friends helped her with what went down in Flunked. Unfortunately this causes a few issues for her. However, it does let us see her grow as a character which is something I appreciate as a reader and a fan of this series. All in all, Charmed continued on with the fun wonderful world that Jen Calonita created in the first installment. It is fun and full of adventure. And hopefully Jen will be continuing on with this series in a similar matter. I have grown attached to the fun and quirky cast of characters and I want to see them grow more and to see where their adventures take them. My Rating 4 Stars This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.