(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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Setting: Boarding School Books

One of the main criteria for a book to be part of my favourites list is for it to be set in a boarding school. It’s my favourite setting to read about, probably because it’s so unusual, and on the surface, seems fun. Books set in boarding schools are usually fantasy or contemporary and I really like how the setting is so adaptable to any genre.
boarding school 1

The origin of my love comes from the Secrets at St. Jude’s series, My Sister Jodie and Ottoline Goes To School. Why all these books are purple, I don’t know. New Girl was about four friends navigating their teenage lives, Ottoline seeks to find her hidden talent and Jodie…well, she gets up to some mischief.

boarding school 2

Magical ones are normally the best. The School For Good and Evil is The Best, because it combines boarding schools and fairy tales, which is downright perfect for me. I always loved any section on the curriculum – it’s so different from anything I’ll ever get to do. I used to hate it in Harry Potter when he had to go and battle evil, because it took him away from studying.(That sounds super geeky, but if I got to study potion making and transfiguration, I wouldn’t leave the library!) A whole set of books from Hermione’s perspective would be absolute heaven! But Fearsome Dreamer’s main plot point isn’t about magic school. It’s about a technological revolution, BUT for fifty sweet, sweet pages, Rue and White are studying their powers together in a sort of boarding school, complete with Yule Ball-esque dance sequence. Seriously, if the setting only came up for a few pages in a book, I’d be pleased.

boarding school 3

So, I fangirl about boarding schools a lot. I think the epitome of this obsession, though, can be rooted to one book series in particular. The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. Six books of spy-socialite heaven. It’s become a dream of mine to write something in this setting, because I love it so much, and any research I had to do would be done willingly. What about you? Do you have a particular favourite when it comes to settings?154857-ml-1182951

Review: The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani

18004320The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani
Genre: 
Fairy Tale, Retelling, Fantasy, The Best Thing Ever After
Published by: HarperCollins, the little geniuses.
Pages: 672, and worth every word.
Format: Well loved Paperback
Rating: Infinity
Where to Find: Goodreads | Author | Amazon

The time has come! My perfect fairy tale is over, sobsob. What am I going to do without anymore books in this series? How am I going to cope? (I’ll wait for The School For Good and Evil movie, that’s what. (Can Agatha be played by a British 18 year old, would that be OK?)) Warning: this isn’t really a review, more like a fangirl gush of my feelings for this book and the series in general. Just imagine rainbows and glitter embellish this review, and you’ve pretty much understood my feelings. I LOVE this. Like, really really really LOVE it. Soman Chainini can do no wrong. With that said, on with the review!  Continue reading “Review: The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani”

Finishing (LOTS OF) Series

Recently, I’ve been on a series finishing binge.

Coincidently, it seems, in all the trilogies I’ve have on the go, I’ve read the first two books and have the final book to complete. This is the perfect scenario, because not only do you get the satisfaction of finishing a book, but that epic-ness of finishing a whole series, even if it might have been ages since you read the previous books.

So, series I’ve managed to complete:

  1. Thphoto 1e Kane Chronicles – this has been on my TBR for literal YEARS. I read the first book as soon as it came out, managed to get half way through the second one, and then gave up, even though the third book was in my possession, and hardback (a complete rarity on my shelves.) Finishing this series felt like the b
    iggest achievement of the year, because it was so long awaited. Finally, I can cross the books off thousands of to-read-lists I’ve made throughout the months!
  2. The Grisha Trilogy – I read Shadow and Bone, and Siege and Storm back to back. They are some of Bee’s favo
    rite books, so I was really pleased to be cracking on with such important books on her shelves. BUT, she refused to buy the third book because it was ONE CENTIMETRE taller and wider than the other two, and she wanted her trilogy to match. I don’t know how long we had to wait for Ruin and Rising to be released in normal book size, but it was worth the wait. Although I might have almost forgotten some of the plot, this was such an amazing end to the trilogy and really drew everything together, in a neat little bow.
  3. Ever After High – This was a cute and fun read where I could completely shut off my brain and soak up the adorableness of the fairy tale world. I’m familiar with the characters and the setting, so it was super sweet to see them in writing, not just on screen. This trilogy was basically ice cream to me.

Series I’m so almost done with:

  1. photo 2The School For Good And Evil – I LOVE THIS SERIES SO MUCH. *throws glitter* I re-read the first two books to prepare for ‘The Last Ever After’. It’s a beast, at just over 650 pages. All the pages are going to be magical, I told myself, don’t be scared by the length….
    …I got scared by the length. I’ve been putting off just finishing this series because I seriously don’t want it to be over. Agatha and Sophie’s story needs to remain open forever. I’m only doing what the Storian would have wanted.
  2. Lux Series – Only ‘Opposition’ to go. Unlike the other series, this one has five books, which means finishing the series has been in the making for a while. I read the first four in quite a rapid succession, and slowly and gradually they’ve been getting better, by half a star each book. I’m hoping that the final book will blow me out of the water or make up for the bad star ratings of the first couple of books. Maybe that’s why I’m not jumping to finish this series?

Phew! That’s quite a lot! Now, I’ll take a breather before diving in to any more series!

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.