Author: Jen Calonita
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Length: 256 pages
Would you send a villain to do a hero's job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author Jen Calonita.
Full of regret, Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.
Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she's not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its sweet mission. There's a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villain really change?
Protagonist: Gillian Cobbler is a thief, but she's a thief with some form of a code of honor. She only steals things from people who won't miss them, or she deems doesn't really need them, and she does all of this to make sure that her family is well fed. Eventually though her crimes, as innocent as they may seem to her, catch up with her and she's put into Fairy Tale Reform School, a place where problem children can be taught manners, proper etiquette, and respect before they become the next generation of villains. Gilly was a very sympathetic character, in fact, I saw no real problem with what she did, yes it's wrong, but her intentions in the end were pure. She took no pleasure in steal, well maybe a little bit, she was only doing it to help her run down family. Her character development over the course of the book may have been a bit too fast, but for the most part was well done, and it was easy to see why Gilly developed in the way she did.
World-Building: I was really intrigued by the premise of this story. A school that reformed potential villains and it's also run by former villains, and I have to say that it turned out rather well. Though there was one teacher who was just terrible, she was someone who would insult and berate students and it was a wonder she hadn't been fired. The rest of the world building though was a bit mixed. We did have these really cool news articles that would do profiles on teachers, the school, and other goings on in the story which really added a great level of fullness to the story. However the kingdom itself was poorly developed. I got no real sense of how it was ruled, I mean it's supposedly ruled by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel, but what about their princes? Wouldn't they all have their own kingdoms? How do they break a tie? Okay maybe not that last one so much, but I'm hoping for some more development in this kingdoms government in future books because right now all we know is that it's ruled over by four princesses, two of which were never traditionally royalty by blood.
Predictability: So this book is a mix of fairly predictable twists and some that just seem to come out of nowhere, but upon further reflection make total sense. For the most part the more obvious twists never really phased me, they weren't boring or annoying in any way, they were just sort of there and not much of a surprise, but the really shocking twists, that's obviously a very different story. I think the biggest twist was done very well, because it's almost as if the author used some sneaky foreshadowing that could be interpreted multiple ways and what came out of it was definitely one of the least interpretations.
Ending:The ending is another point of contention for me, because while this was where some of the best and most shocking twists arise, the final climax of this book was a bit boring. Things were ramping up to what I was hoping would have been an amazing showdown, which unfortunately was over rather quickly, hopefully in future installments the final climactic moments will have a bit more action in them. The moments after the dust settled held a few more twists, or really pieces of useful information that while a bit shocking weren't all that surprising. This book didn't end with a cliffhanger, but like most first books in series plateaus so that the wait between books doesn't seem so long.
So I debated on the rating a little bit. While this book does definitely have some problems it was still intensely enjoyable and I look forward to continuing the adventure.