(Spoiler) Review: Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Warning: This is a SPOILER review. If you have not read QFG, or the rest of the SFGAE books for that matter, you may not want to read.

The School for Good and Evil is one of my favourite series of all time. When I found out a fourth book was coming, I was beyond excited for it. Writing another series within the same world has become so common nowadays, that maybe I shouldn’t have been as surprised. So, Quests for Glory kicks off with a 100 pages ‘where are they now?’ section. If you’ve read the Handbook of Good and Evil, you already have a good idea of it. Sophie is the Dean of Evil, Agatha and Tedros are getting married but their relationship is on the rocks – when is it not, let’s be honest? – Hort is a teacher for Evil, and the Coven have been given the task of finding a new school master. Phew, we’re all up to speed!

Because Hort and the Coven are given sections, this first part is quite lengthy. It’s very expositional but familiarises the reader with the characters again, so I’ll cut it some slack. But, along with the main characters, every other student in Agatha and Sophie’s year gets name dropped, telling you what quests they’re on too…

The plot finally gets rolling when Tedros can’t pull Excalibur out of the stone and a new enemy turns up: the Snake. There’s this pretty long winded explanation about The Lion and the Snake, another fairy tale that’s going to frame the book. When we meet the Snake, there’s the suggestion that he’s Rafal from the first trilogy but one thing is for sure: he’s evil.

We also get to meet Rhian, who shares a name with Rafal’s twin, the Good school master so that can’t be a coincidence. He’s all handsome and generally a better version of Tedros that Sophie can fall for. He actually has King Arthur’s blood. It felt like wish fulfilment. Sophie didn’t get the guy in the first trilogy, so we’ll just make her a new and improved version of the guy she wanted all along. But, with the foreshadowing of the evil connection, it’s not a surprise when Rhian’s too good to be true and turns out to be the villain. We’re also heavy-handedly told that Sophie ‘isn’t good at choosing guys’, so does it come as a shock? No. It’s exactly what we saw in The Last Ever After. I would have much preferred if Sophie didn’t fall for another cute evil guy because what does it say about the most powerful witch in the world if she needs a guy to goggle at?

Tedros, by the way, is a complete whiny child. He’s always moaning ‘this is my sword, my kingdom, I’m the king, blah, blah,’ that he comes off as so immature and not kingly at all! Agatha is downgraded to Tedros’ assistant and never really given her own moment to shine until the end when she works out who Rhian really is. They don’t work together as a couple – they don’t even feel like a couple, although we’re tricked into thinking they genuinely care about each other with a few small kiss scenes. I just don’t see them working and I need their relationship to have more depth. Show me they’re in love, don’t just tell me.

We also get introduced to some new characters – as promised – but they’re nothing more than names on a page for me. Nicola, the new Gavaldon girl, was the most fleshed out and introduced seemingly just as a love interest for Hort. She’s smart and captains the ship for their quest, but I don’t really know why Agatha or Sophie couldn’t have done that. They’re both equally capable. There was also Willam, Bogden, Kei and…maybe someone else, but like I said, I know so little about them that they seemed irrelevant when we were just focusing on the characters we knew. Nicola seemed to vanish once she’d served her purpose. I hope they all have a stronger presence as the series go on, and we don’t have to rely so much on Agatha and the gang to draw in readers…but then again, the new characters didn’t get enough screen time to be established, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re destined to the background forever.

At least there are some deaths in Quests for Glory. Chaddick, Tedros’ best friend who I’d completely forgotten about, was the first to be killed of on his mission. It came a bit too early for me to care, especially because there was no scene between him and Tedros beforehand to really assert their brotherhood. It was really relying on you knowing Chaddick from the first trilogy. Second to die was Lancelot, who, again, was a secondary, maybe even tertiary character and the least important adult. I’ll need at least one big main character death in this series for it to have some sense of believability. (My guess is Hester so that Sophie’ll take her place in the coven, especially if we’ve established that Anadil and Dot are besties within the trio, so Hester’s more isolated.)

We’re also introduced to this HUGE bit of lore about the school that would have probably been important to know in the first trilogy, and that is that there’s a house in the school specifically for kids that are being raised by evil parents but who are actually good, or vice versa. We learn that Rhian, Kei and Aric are all from this house. To have a grey area is a really good idea, but if that’s the case, shouldn’t that have been where Sophie and Agatha went? Sophie was raised good but she was evil, and Agatha was the opposite, so to add this convenient but important nuance to the school is too little too late.

There were some scenes I really enjoyed, though. The more action-adventure scenes were the group was fighting the Snake – particularly in that trap-door room – was very cinematic and even though the ending felt a little rushed, the pacing meant I didn’t want to blink because that would mean taking my eyes off the page. It ended on a massive cliffhanger, if you think that Rhian pulling Excalibur from the stone, Tedros failing and the world being plunged into chaos was a surprise.

Overall, this book did a lot of setting the scene for the next two books in the trilogy. A World Without Princes is such a great sequel, and probably my favourite book from the first series, so my expectations are definitely high for the next book. I’ll be reading it, for sure, and just hoping that my Agatha is given some more of the limelight! Quests for Glory, as a first book, was promising and ambitious and did great things to already be establishing a threat as big (or bigger?) than Rafal. I just can’t believe I have to wait another year to read what happens next…

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Review: The Witch’s Tears by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

30796767The Witch’s Tears by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr
Genre: 
Fairy tale, Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 320
Format: ARC e-b00k
Rating: ★★★★
Note: We received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

After loving The Witch’s Kissand getting to meet the Corr sisters, the sequel was something I was dying to get my hands on, and I’m happy to report that I loved it just as much as the first book! While the fairy tale theme that drew me to the first book isn’t as prominent, there are lots of things that bubble to the surface in its absence and I really loved. Please tell me there’s a third book coming?

Continue reading “Review: The Witch’s Tears by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr”

Review: Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz

28688476Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: 
Contemporary
Published by: Mira Ink
Pages: 432
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I was really excited to read Something in Between because of the subject matter. It’s a shame that I read this one so soon after The Sun is Also a Starthough, as I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the portrayal of illegal immigrants. Both authors took the same stance: that it’s unjust and an ugly term to describe people that have only done what was best for their families, and I think that message was the most powerful, but I wholeheartedly preferred Nicola Yoon’s take because it felt less romanticised. Let’s discuss… Continue reading “Review: Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz”

Review: The Witch’s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

cover83338-mediumThe Witch’s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr
Genre: 
Fairy Tale, Contemporary
Published: HarperCollins
Pages: 424
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Sister writing duo, fairy tales, witches, oh my! There was a lot to look forward to in The Witch’s Kiss and I loved every single second! If this book wasn’t made for me, I’d be surprised! Going into it, I didn’t realise it was going to be part of a series, so I was reading it thinking everything was going to resolve by the end, and it almost does, except for a little thread that just itches at you, making you desperate for the second book. We’re only waiting until February 2017, though, which isn’t too long….right?  Continue reading “Review: The Witch’s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr”

Review: Between The Lines and Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

9781444740998-uk25001544Between The Lines and Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Genre: 
Contemporary, Fairytale, Romance
Published by: Hodder
Pages: 351 | 372
Format: Paperbacks
Ratings: ★★★.5

I’ve been wanting read these two books since I stumbled across them on Goodreads, via recommended books and realised they’d be exactly the thing I needed to rekindle my love for the Inkheart series without having to read Inkheart for the sixteenth time! Reading characters out of books has always fascinated me since reading Cornelia Funke’s masterpiece, and I really liked the idea of a mother-daughter writing duo dealing with the relationships formed between real people and fictional characters. Basically, this book is a fangirl’s dream come true, and it certainly read like a fairy tale! Continue reading “Review: Between The Lines and Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer”

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrow of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

18166936The Strange and Beautiful Sorrow of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Genre: 
Fairytale (?), Historical (?) Fantasy (?) How the heck do you classify this??
Published by: Walker Books
Pages: 306
Format: Library Book
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while for two reasons:
a.) the beautiful cover, and
b.) the beautiful (and intriguing) title.
After seeing the reviews on Goodreads, the decision was made. I would read this book immediately. When I started reading, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The book is like an odd mixture of Chocolat by Joanne Harris (for all the generations of women and mother-daughter relationships) and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (for the creepy, I-don’t-know-if-I-like-it vibe!) It’s also got some fairytale elements to it, but all together, it’s a hard one to pin down and I loved it…I think. Continue reading “Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrow of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton”

Review: The Book Of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

4259869The Book Of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Genre: 
Fairy Tale Retelling
Published by: Bloomsbury
Pages: 306
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Author | Amazon

I’ve been reading a lot of Shannon Hale lately, and a lot of fairy tale retellings, so this was a great book to pick up, as a combination of the two. I thought it would be an original story, rather than a retelling, but it turns out this is a retelling of ‘Maid Maleen’, a relatively unknown story by the Brothers Grimm. I’d never heard of it before, so similar to ‘Goose Girl’ I had no idea what to expect. The tower on the cover made me think of Rapunzel, but that is only half the story. Continue reading “Review: The Book Of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale”

Review: The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainini

16248113The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainini
Genre: Fairy Tale (Retelling?)
Published by: Harper Collins
Pages: 488
Format: Paperback (and it’s signed, and I didn’t even know???)
Rating: ★★★★★
Series: A World Without Princes (#2)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Author | Amazon

This is one of my favourite books. Ever After. I’m reading the series again to set myself up for the third and final book ‘The Last Ever After’ and, boy, was I glad I made that decision. This is a five star book. It’s genius, and filled with all of my favourite things! Ahh, I’m just a huge fangirl for this trilogy! So, here are my reasons for loving TSFGAE sooooo much:
Continue reading “Review: The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainini”

Review: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

A World WithoA-World-without-Princesut Princes by Soman Chainani
Genre: Fairy-tale Retelling, Middle-Grade
Published by: Harper Collins
Pages: 443
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I absolutely adore fairy tales – especially retellings, hence why I’m  devoting six months of my life to studying them for my EPQ. So, when I discovered ‘The School for Good and Evil’, there was no way I was going to leave the store without it (and the covers are the most beautiful thing, like, forever after.)

I devoured the first book extremely quickly and was hungry for more, more, more of Agatha and Sophie’s tale, so I couldn’t be more delighted with the sequel ‘A World Without Princes’ when I got the chance to read it.

‘A World Without Princes’ is about how the School for Good and Evil changed once Sophie and Agatha escaped the Endless Woods and got their assumed ‘happy ending’, with Agatha choosing friendship over the love of Prince Tedros. The two girls proved that happy endings could be achieved without princes (not like you didn’t get that from the title or anything) so it seems the fairy tale world changed the past, present and future to reflect this new feminist movement.

However, Agatha understands better than anyone that a world without princes isn’t that great, and not just for the selfish reason that she wants true love’s kiss (it’s the most powerful magic of all, you know.) I like to think of this book as a social commentary on the disadvantages of ‘man-hating’ feminism and how actions can be misinterpreted. This book definitely took the patriarchal rivalry thing to a whole new level: to the death!

Agatha and Sophie face many moral problems throughout this book. Is Sophie Evil? Is Sophie Good? Does Sophie still love Tedros? Mostly, it’s Agatha worrying about Sophie’s intentions, because the first book in the series proved that we shouldn’t always trust the sugary-pink princess. Yet, I really loved how tormented Agatha was over Sophie’s true being (gosh, that sounded Evil – I’m Good, I swear…OK now I sound like Sophie.)

Although Sophie may be walking a fine line between Good and Evil, she always tries to be Good in her heart. This is what makes her my favourite of the pairing, just because you never know which of her natures is going to pull her next action.

One thing I can say about this novel is the FRICKIN’ PLOT TWISTS, MAN! I swear for the last fifty pages, I had no idea how Agatha and Sophie’s story was going to end. I was, and I kid you not, literally on the edge of my seat (furnished with a Sleeping Beauty pillow) with anticipation. Was Agatha going to choose Tedros or Sophie? Was Sophie going to becoming an evil hag-witch-monster?  What was going to happen to the School Master, or the genuinely evil Dean? WOULD THERE EVER BE A HAPPILY EVER AFTER?!

Well, the answer to that is no. Soman Chainani ended the novel with THE EN. THE EN!! If anything, this makes me incredibly happy, because it means Agatha and Sophie’s story isn’t over. I mean, surely, their story can’t end where it did! Agatha and Sophie were the epitome of friendship, ignoring their differences, the perfect pair. I CANNOT deal with this being ruined by some blond King Arthur wannabe. Ugh.

Summer 2015 needs to get here sooner. I NEED the next book as much as Agatha and Sophie need the Storian to finish writing THE END to their story. Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, because I did find some parts repetitive which irritated me slightly, but generally this was the perfect sequel to a brilliant fairy tale with a twist.