Dazzling and brilliantly executed, The School for Good and Evil manages to be both heartwarming and seriously sweet. It's a middle-grade novel written by Soman Chainani, and it utilizes fairy-tale tropes to excellent effect –– it had me giggling for a while, because this is exactly the type of light-hearted, snappy humor that always makes me laugh. Sophie and Agatha, the two protagonists, represent why teenage girls shouldn't be taken lightly––they are characters that grow on you, and they are characters that grow with you.
Like Shrek and other fairy-tale adaptations, The School for Good and Evil stays true to its roots. It's true that female villains are often the most delightfully wicked of all, and I especially liked how earnest Sophie's very turbulent, atypically teenage emotions were exploited––it was very real, and her motives were explained in a way that made sense. I think I would consider this a "light read," because it was coming-of-age and just very adorable, but––there was a lot of surprisingly hidden depth, lurking under the surface. Digging up the history and the world-building was enlightening, and the writing delves into answering some philosophical questions: What is the true nature of friendship? What even is "good and evil," exactly? What choices really matter in the long-run? We don't live in a world with castles and brambly forests and fairy-tale heroines, but that's the point––we can apply the lessons and questions from The School for Good and Evil and use it in our own worlds, in our own surroundings, in our own situations.
I will tell you this: by far, the most important lesson that the School for Good and Evil strived to teach is that your nature is self-determined. We are not inherently good or evil, and we do not have to be what people expect us to be. We are more than capable of breaking out of our molds, and blazing our own paths into the future––in the real world, we can't travel back in time, but there is always (always!) room for change inside our souls.