The School for Good and Evil

Common Sense Media says

Fractured fairy tale has plenty of twists for fantasy fans.





What parents need to know

Educational value

The School for Good and Evil explicitly plays with the conventions of familiar fairy tales and urges readers to challenge the assumptions they bring to the material. Readers will recognize versions of favorite characters from folklore, but with a fresh twist.

Positive messages

The characters in The School for Good and Evil spend much of their time worrying about which side they belong on. But the story demonstrates that people are not simply good or evil, but that they are human and contain a little of each. The important thing is to strike a balance and be true to yourself and the ones you love, without obsessing about how your behavior might be rewarded.

Positive role models

At the start of The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha seem destined for particular stations in life. But after receiving seemingly mixed-up assignments at the school, they begin to change their attitudes about heroism and villainy. They bounce back and forth in their understanding of what it means to be good or evil, and their actions sometimes have disastrous consequences. Both girls eventually move beyond being stereotypes and learn the meaning of true love.

Violence & scariness

As with traditional folktales and fairy tales, The School for Good and Evil contains its fair share of violence. For much of the book, the mayhem is implied rather than shown, and when there is a violent encounter, it tends be be cartoonish rather than realistic. But the climactic chapters involve an all-out war between Evers (good students) and Nevers (bad students), and the body count is high. One of the main characters is killed, although there's hope of resurrection in the cliffhanger ending.

Sexy stuff

Sophie is sure that she's meant for the local Prince Charming, but "true love" does not run smoothyly in The School for Good and Evil. There are a couple of jokes about swords being awkwardly unsheathed, but they

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There is no use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco in The School for Good and Evil.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The School for Good and Evil is a fresh take on fairy tale devices and cliches, upending the expectations most readers have about princesses and villains. The language is very mild, with nothing worse than "ass" used. Would-be princesses and princes flirt with each other, but there's virtually no sexual content (though there are a couple of mildly bawdy sword jokes, if one cares to look for them). As in most fairy tales, violence and the threat of it are fairly constant, but most characters escape actual harm, at least until the climactic battle sequence. The body count there is rather high, and one of the main characters is killed (though seemingly revived later on).

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When best friends Sophie and Agatha are stolen away from their village and end up at the THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, the girls assume that their roles in life will remain as they always have predicted. With her blond hair, pink dresses, and penchant for doing good deeds, Sophie will be trained to be a storybook princess. Black-clad and antisocial Agatha has all the makings of a first-class villainess. At the school, however, the girls find themselves exactly where they don't want to be. Sophie is the one to take Uglification lessons and consort with future witches and their henchmen, while Agatha must learn about makeup and the proper etiquette for attracting a Prince Charming. To get back home, Agatha and Sophie must solve a riddle that seems to threaten the very existence of the school.

Is it any good?


The School for Good and Evil is no run-of-the-mill fairy tale spin-off. Author Soman Chainani has clearly done his homework in folklore and mass media, and he manipulates the cliches of fantasy and folklore with a great deal of wit and insight. This opening volume to the series feels a little long, however. Agatha and Sophie attempt new trials, pass or fail in unexpected ways, then move on to the next contest. The repetition of this patterns grows burdensome across nearly 500 pages. Still, there's a lot of narrative meat here, served up with flair by Chainani and complemented by Iacopo Bruno's black-and-white illustrations.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how portrayals of fairy tale characters in modern media differ from their original, folkloric versions. Why do you think these stories remain so powerful and compelling?

  • Do you ever make judgments about people based on how they look or dress? Can you tell if someone is "good" or "bad" just by looking at them?

  • Do you ever feel as if other people -- family, friends or teachers -- have expectations of you that you can't possibly meet? How do you handle those expectations?

Book details

Author:Soman Chainani
Illustrator:Iacopo Bruno
Genre:Fairy Tale
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Fairy tales, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:May 14, 2013
Number of pages:496
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 17
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of The School for Good and Evil was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 11 years old October 23, 2013
Parent Written byMomtoSensitveKiddo April 11, 2014

rocked her world

Book was intense for my 11 year old. She could think of little else - not good during testing time. She wrote pages in her diary about it and she talked non stop about it - especially the choices and actions of the characters. She was upset by it but really enjoyed reading it.

Kid, 9 years old February 11, 2014

The best book EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This book is about 2 girls who get taken to the School for Good and Evil and think they each know what schools they are going to be in, but get dropped off at the oppisite school. Tedros, one of the princes from Good helps them realize that they were in the right school all along and makes them in a war against the bad one...... This book is one of the best books EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families