Last June, Marshmallow reviewed Rise of the School for Good and Evil, the first of the two prequels Soman Chainani wrote for his School for Good and Evil hexalogy. And this week, finally, she was able to get her paws on the second prequel book, Fall of the School for Good and Evil, fresh off the press (the book just came out on May 2, 2023). Below, she shares her thoughts on this long-awaited book.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about fairy tales, friendship, family, or any of Soman Chainani’s other books, then this might be the book for you. But to understand the book fully, you should probably have read (or checked out my reviews of) some of the other School for Good and Evil books. For example check out The School for Good and Evil, the very first book that started this whole saga, or the book right before this one: Rise of the School for Good and Evil.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Twins Rafal and Rhian rule the School for Good and Evil (a school that trains children to be in fairy tales) together. Rafal is the evil twin, and Rhian is the good twin. Their two contradicting souls, bound by their love for each other, balance the school and allow them to serve as School Masters. That is until they start having problems and tensions rise between them. If their bond does not last, they will both lose the immortality and magic given to them by the Storian.
Fall of the School for Good and Evil starts off when the twins go to Gavaldon to find new students for their school after losing several of their best ones. Gavaldon is a town outside of the magic of the woods, and the townspeople are called Readers. Gavaldon is not magical, but its inhabitants read the stories and fairy tales that happen in the woods. Their children read of magic, unaware that it is real. Rafal hopes that this will make them more effective and excited students, as opposed to the children who come from the kingdoms in the woods who have grown up with magic their entire lives.
Upon visiting Gavaldon, Rhian selects a Reader named Midas and takes him to be a new student at his School for Good. Rafal also picks a Reader to take to his School for Evil, but unfortunately, this person betrays him; Rafal is captured and accused of being a witch. Luckily, the brothers manage to escape with Midas. When they return to the School for Good and Evil, the twins discover their immortality is fading. They fear losing their powers and immortality. But a new division has started with Midas; each twin wants Midas to join his school, which causes competition between them. By the time they realize and recognize their division, the cracks are too big. The fight that started out as a small sibling rivalry becomes a full-blown war for the position of School Master with more than two competitors. But the result of the conflict is not what anyone would have expected and will change the course of fairy tales forever.
Marshmallow’s Review: This is a sequel to Rise of the School for Good and Evil and is set before the School for Good and Evil series. I would definitely suggest reading those books before this because otherwise nothing will make sense. The other books are necessary for understanding the fantasy world that this book is set in. However, for those who have read the other books, this book is full of twists and turns that will leave readers astonished by revelations hidden throughout the entire series. Even though the reader thinks they know what will happen (since this book is set before the others), the road to the future of the School for Good and Evil is long and not as straight as one may think. The characters (specifically one!) in the other books is not who we thought they were.
I loved how Fall of the School for Good and Evil added nuance to the other books and built the world in which they are set. The depth of Chainani’s characters is astonishing. The characters we read about in Peter Pan and other fairy tales are transformed into living, breathing, and complex characters. I loved how characters from other fairy tales are given a new level of nuance and depth.
Fall of the School for Good and Evil did not have as much romance as previous books written by Chainani, which I think was a good move since it left more room for character and plot development.
This is a book that is appropriate for most ages, though it is likely more interesting for readers 8 and up.
Overall, this is an amazing book for those who like (retellings of) fairy tales and the School for Good and Evil series.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.