Author: Jen Calonita
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Length: 288 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley
Charmed is the exciting sequel to the wildly popular Flunked -- second in the brand new Fairy Tale Reform School series where the teachers are (former) villains. "Charming fairy-tale fun." -Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series.
It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.
Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her. As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.
Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…
Protagonist: Gillian Cobbler is back and is being heralded as a hero around Enchantasia. Although she remains at the Fairy Tale Reform School, for the most part Gilly is already reformed. She has no real desire to go back to thieving and with her father's business booming she doesn't really need to. Her character development in this book stems more from the fact that she doesn't know quite how to handle the praise she's been showered with and because of that it causes some tension with her and her friends. When this all comes to a head I have to admit I felt like things were resolved just a bit too quickly and easily but other than that I really enjoyed Gilly's character development in this book.
World-Building: So I will say that I was really impressed with the world-building in this installment. We get to see more about how the kingdom of Enchantasia is run, how things are decided and how the three princesses that rule it work together. While I am still a bit confused as to where their princes fit into all of this, mainly as they are never mentioned, but considering that I feel much less left in the dark as to the politics and government of this world I'll let it slide for now. In this book we do meet a new teacher to the reform school, I won't give anything away but I thought he was a great addition to the cast of former villains, though he wasn't the one I initially thought he would be. As for any possible romance in this book, well there's not enough to warrant a separate section, and it's not that I need a romance in this book or anything, but I do feel as though there were so many hints at a romance the previous installment that I had expected to see a bit more. Again, not a criticism, more of an observation.
Predictability: Much the previous installment in this series things were pretty predictable. While the foreshadowing may go over the heads of the younger audience that this series is intended for, it was really easy for me to pick up on where things in the story were going. However I was never annoyed or bored by that, probably because I knew it wasn't intended for a 22 year old, but I still found immense enjoyment out of both the story and the twists within.
Ending: So going into the final climax I began to wonder if this "series" was going to end up being a duology. Things were wrapping up rather well and I couldn't see enough content for more installments unless the author invented some after the dust had settled. However after the fabulous final climax, which unlike the previous book wasn't over to quickly or easily, I began to see the threads of where things might go from here, but it wasn't until after the final chapter, yes, I said "after," that I knew there was at least one more adventure in this series. The end is a cliffhanger and a doozy of one at that.
So I knew in my gut once I finished this book that it deserved four stars. It's such an enjoyable adventure and if I was as young as the target audience (8-12) I think I would have loved this book all the more. I can't wait for another adventure in Entantasia!