Marshmallow reviews A Crystal of Time by Soman Chainani (Book 5 of The School for Good and Evil series)

Last week Marshmallow reviewed Quests for Glory, the fourth book of Soman Chainani’s School for Good and Evil series. Today she writes about her thoughts on the fifth book: A Crystal of Time.

Marshmallow reviews The School for Good and Evil: A Crystal of Time by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow reviews The School for Good and Evil: A Crystal of Time by Soman Chainani.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books about fantasy, twisted fairy tales, and Soman Chainani’s books, then you will enjoy this book! If you haven’t read the first four books of the School for Good and Evil series though, then you might want to read them first.

“In the forest of primeval
A school for Good and Evil
Twin towers like two heads
One for the pure
And one for the wicked
Try to escape you’ll always fail,
The only way out is
Through a fairytale.”

It all began in The School for Good and Evil, Soman Chainani’s first novel. This was a school of fairy tales, where witches and princesses, warlocks and princes were trained. In the end a select few would become the heroes and the villains of future storybooks. The tales would be recorded by a magical pen, The Storian. We learn about this whole world through the eyes and experiences of Agatha and Sophie, two friends whose destiny takes them to different places and brings them back together.

The first book is followed by A World Without Princes, where witches and princesses are friends, and warlocks and princes become accomplices. The dividing line now becomes gender, instead of good versus evil.

The third book of the series, The Last Ever After, reorganizes the world of the School, and Sophie and Agatha have many new adventures.

The fourth book, Quests for Glory, started the Camelot Years. If you want to learn about the book, see my review from last week.

This review is about the fifth book of the hexalogy.

Marshmallow’s summary (with spoilers): When “King” Rhian puts a bounty on her head, Agatha is on the run. With her true love about to be executed, her best friend forced to be the “king’s” queen at the tip of a knife, and everyone else who could help her in prison, Agatha has nowhere to go. That is, until she meets her wild-haired canary-like Beautification teacher who takes her on stymph to the School for Good and Evil. (A stymph is a ginormous bird with no skin or flesh. It is practically a skeleton that is alive.)

The students there are all first years and have barely unlocked their finger glows. (Every student at the School for Good and Evil has a finger glow that is a unique color. For example Agatha and Tedros’ finger glows are different shades of gold, while Sophie’s is hot pink.) In other words, they are not very good at magic yet, but they are still eager to help Agatha rescue Tedros and the rest of the rebels.

Agatha and her accomplices are eventually able to save their friends, but some people are left behind, including Sophie. The rebels go back to save them and do so, but at a cost. Clarrisa Dovey, the dean of Good, who was Agatha’s godmother, dies, and is finally reunited with her true love, Lady Lesso, the deceased dean of Evil. (Lady Lasso was murdered by her blood-thirsty son, Aric, in The Last Ever After.)

But during the time Sophie was at Camelot, she discovered that Rhian and his twin Japeth are not only trying to be the king of Camelot but of the world. They plan to do this by destroying the Storian’s hundred rings that secure the very life of the Endless Woods. By the time the whole rebel team learns about this, there is only three left and time is running out. Will they be able to stop Rhain and Jaspeth before it is too late?

Marshmallow is studying the crystal of time.
Marshmallow is studying the crystal of time.

Marshmallow’s Review: The longest of the series so far (624 pages!), this was a great read! My new favorite character is Nicola, a first year, who saves the lives of Agatha and her friends many times. Agatha’s cat is pretty cool, too. He’s funny. And if you’re wondering, Sophie is not as bad in this book as she used to be, but she’s still annoying.

This book answered some open questions from previous books, and posed a lot more new ones. Can’t wait for the sixth and final book!

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates A Crystal of Time 100%.
Marshmallow rates A Crystal of Time 100%.

Marshmallow reviews School for Good and Evil: Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani

Before digging into the fifth book of the School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani, Marshmallow reviews the fourth book: School for Good and Evil: Quests for Glory.

Marshmallow reviews School for Good and Evil: Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow reviews School for Good and Evil: Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like twisted versions of fairytales or books by Soman Chainani, then this might be the book for you. If you did not read any of the first three books in the School for Good and Evil series, you can still enjoy this one, but I would definitely recommend reading the previous books before reading this.

It all began in The School for Good and Evil, Soman Chainani’s first novel. This was a school of fairy tales, where witches and princesses, warlocks and princes were trained. In the end a select few would become the heroes and the villains of future storybooks. The tales would be recorded by a magical pen, The Storian. We learn about this whole world through the eyes and experiences of Agatha and Sophie, two friends whose destiny takes them to different places and brings them back together.

The first book is followed by A World Without Princes, where witches and princesses are friends, and warlocks and princes become accomplices. The dividing line now becomes gender, instead of good versus evil.

The third book of the series, The Last Ever After, reorganizes the world of the School, and Sophie and Agatha have many new adventures.

This is the fourth book in the series.

Marshmallow’s summary (with spoilers): After graduating from the School for Good and Evil, Agatha and Sophie think that their story is finished. Sophie as Dean of Evil and Agatha as the future queen of Camelot seems like the perfect ending. But their story is not over, the Snake has yet to strike.

We learn about the story of the Lion and the Snake from Agatha:

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful new kingdom without a king.” The Lion and The Snake stepped up to be the king. To decide who would be king, there was an election. Those who thought that a king should be clever voted for the Snake and those who thought a king should be strong voted for the Lion. It was a tie. “And so the Eagle was brought in to make the final choice, since he flew high above and saw the world in a way no one else could.” The Eagle asked them a question, “If you were king, would the Eagle be subject to your rule?” The Lion said yes, the Snake said no. The Eagle chose the Snake.

That night the Snake with his minions ambushed the Eagle and his clan and killed them all. The Lion and his comrades were too late to save the Eagles. As the Lion was about to kill him, the Snake uttered the following:

“You dare not kill a king. The Eagle chose me because he wanted freedom. He got that freedom. What happened after does not change the Truth. The throne is mine. I am your king. Just because you do not like the Truth does not mean that you can replace it with a Lie. And if you kill me, your new king will be a Lie. Kill me and I shall return to take my crown.”

Tedros, whose destiny is to be the king of Camelot, can’t pull the sword Excalibur out of the stone. His faithful knight Chaddick lies on the shores of Avalon, betrayed by the Lady of the Lake and killed by the Snake. The Quests of all the fourth years fail seconds after Chaddick’s death; there is now a new Quest: Defeat the Snake. Once they begin the new Quest, the Storian begins writing a new story.

Marshmallow’s Review: The plot, as you can see from the above, is kind of complicated. But once you get into it, the story is captivating. The author is extremely successful in evoking strong emotions from the readers about the characters (I hate Sophie sometimes!) If you read the first three books, expect a surprising ending!

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates Quests for Glory 95%.
Marshmallow rates Quests for Glory 100%.

Marshmallow reviews A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz

In her third review Marshmallow shares her thoughts on A Tale Dark & Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz.

Marshmallow reviews A Tale Dark & Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz.
Marshmallow reviews A Tale Dark & Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz.

Marshmallow’s quick take: This is the story of Hansel and Gretel but not the version we are accustomed to. Though it is a scary book, it is a great read. Definitely not for younger kids though; too bloody!

“Reader: beware. Warlocks with deadly spells, hunters with deadly aim, and bakers with ovens retrofitted for cooking children lurk within these pages. But if you dare, turn the page and learn the true story of Hansel and Gretel — the story behind (and beyond) the breadcrumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches. Come on in. It may be frightening, it’s certainly bloody, and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but unlike those other fairy tales you know, this one is true.”

Marshmallow’s summary (with spoilers): After having their heads cut off by their father, the king of Grimm, and coming back to life because someone puts their heads back in their places, Hansel and Gretel run away in fear that their father will decapitate them again and next time they may not be so lucky. Their escape turns into a failure; they face problem after problem and they seem to be cursed. (They are actually cursed.)

They travel from town to town and village to village in search for good parents. While in search for good parents, Gretel and Hansel go through many challenges. like losing a finger and nearly being killed by a warlock (Gretel) and being gambled away to the devil and disguising as the devil’s grandma (Hansel).

But when they hear rumors about a dragon wrecking the kingdom of Grimm and hiding in a human body to stay unseen, they decide that it is time to go home to Grimm. They have to save the kingdom! But someone very close to them has been taken over by the dragon. Someone who they had known for their whole life. Should they kill the infected person or not? Save the kingdom but lose one of their closest family members? You can find out in A Tale Dark & Grimm.

Marshmallow’s Review: This was a great read, but it is not, I repeat, it is NOT for children younger than seven. The narrator says himself many times not to let younger children read it.

The author writes little notes that foreshadow what will happen, like in Chapter 5: A Smile As Red As Blood. (A Smile As Red As Blood is about how Gretel falls in love with a man, who turns out to be a warlock, who invites girls to his house and kills them and after that eats them for supper. I already told you the book is really bloody!)

“No, of course it can’t. The moon can eat children, and fingers can open doors, and people’s heads can be put back on. But rain? Talk? Don’t be ridiculous. Good thinking, Gretel dear. Good thinking. ”

Though this is a scary book it is a great read. It is the original story of Hansel and Gretel, plus extra added. Instead of killing the witch who lives inside an edible house, they find a baker inside, who tries to eat them. There are gambling dukes and talking ravens that see the future and warlocks who like to cook young women.

Marshmallow’s rating: 90%.

Marshmallow rates A Tale Dark & Grimm 90%.
Marshmallow rates A Tale Dark & Grimm 90%.

 

Marshmallow reviews The BFG, by Roald Dahl

In her second review Marshmallow shares her thoughts on an old favorite: Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

Marshmallow reviews The BFG by Roald Dahl.
Marshmallow reviews The BFG by Roald Dahl.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like stories about orphans, or if you are a fan of Roald Dahl, then this might possibly be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s summary (with spoilers): When Sophie is snatched out of her bed during the witching hour by some unseen horror that stifles her scream for help with a gigantic thumb and carries her to some unknown land, naturally she thinks that she is going to die. (The unseen horror turns out to be a giant, the Big Friendly Giant from the title of the book.) But when the giant starts a conversation about how human beans (beings) taste like, how Turks taste like turkey, and how people from Jersey taste like cardigans, and how Greeks taste greasy, she is very confused. At the end of the conversation, the giant proclaims that he does not eat “human beans” for snacks, and Sophie feels better.

“What a strange and moody creature this is, she thought. One moment he is telling me my head is full of squashed flies and the next moment his heart is melting for me because Mrs. Clonkers locks us in the cellar.”

Sophie soon learns that the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is the only friendly giant in the Land of Giants; all the others eat humans. Sophie thinks the BFG is “strange and moody”, but soon they become very good friends. The BFG is gentle and kind. Sophie is lonely.

In the afternoon, they see the other giants galloping off to England to eat people. (They apparently just grab them and eat them on the spot!) The giants always tell the BFG where they are going. For example, “We is off to Mrs Sippi and Miss Souri to guzzle them both!”  

Sophie and her new friend the BFG need to stop this massacre of human beans. Can the Queen of England help?

Marshmallow’s Review:I think that The BFG is a good book. It poses a lot of philosophical questions. For example: Are the giants that eat humans much worse than we are? At some point (page 71 in my edition of the book), Sophie says, “I think it’s rotten that those foul giants should go off every night to eat humans. Humans have never done them any harm.” The BFG answers, “That is what the little piggy-wig is saying every day. He is saying ‘I has never done any harm to the human bean so why should he be eating me?`”

“That is what the little piggy-wig is saying every day,” BFG answered. “He is saying `I has never done any harm to the human bean so why should he be eating me?`”

The illustrations by Quentin Blake help the reader imagine the characters in the story, especially how much bigger the giants are from the human beans. They are bigger than the BFG and Blake’s drawings help us see that.

This is a good book, but it can be frightening for kids younger than five. Sophie gets kidnapped by a giant at the beginning of the story, right from her bedroom in the middle of the night. When I was about five and my mom wanted to read this to me, I got really scared and so we had to stop reading.

Marshmallow’s rating: 90%.

Marshmallow rates The BFG by Roald Dahl 90%. May the Force be with you!
Marshmallow rates The BFG by Roald Dahl 90%.

 

Marshmallow’s first review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling

Marshmallow loved reading the seven books in the Harry Potter series. Below she shares her thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling.

Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling.
Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books about magic and adventure then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s summary (with spoilers): While dealing with family issues and an unwanted family legacy that comes with being Harry Potter’s youngest son, it does not help that Albus Severus Potter gets placed in Slytherin, the house opposing the one that his parents were placed in. The world seems to go upside down. But on the Hogwarts Express Albus makes a friend, Scorpius Malfoy. His parents discourage the idea of being friends with Draco Malfoy’s son. (Draco was a bully and a nuisance at school while Harry was there.)

When he catches his father lying to Amos Diggory about a time turner that Harry says the Ministry of Magic does not have, Albus decides that if his father can’t be a hero, then he will.

While listening to Amos plead for a time turner to save his beloved son Cedric Diggory, Albus meets Delphini (Delphi) Diggory, Cedric’s cousin. [Flashback to Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Cedric Diggory entered the Triwizard Tournament, a competition between Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbaton. There is supposed to be one champion from every school and they have to be 17 years old to enter their names into the Goblet of Fire. But someone older than 17 enters Harry’s name into the Goblet of Fire and the champions are Harry and Cedric Diggory for Hogwarts, Victor Krum for Durmstrang, and Fleur Delacour for Beauxbatons. In the last of the three trials, Cedric is killed by Wormtail (a servant of Lord Voldemort), who was ordered to “kill the spare”. Then Harry finds out that Barty Crouch Jr., the son of Barty Crouch, disguised as Professor Mad-Eye Moody, put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire.]  

Harry lies to Amos, and says that the Ministry of Magic does not have any time turners, so he cannot help him. Albus decides that if his father can’t be a hero, then he will. So he steals a time turner with Scorpius and Delphi to try to save Cedric Diggory before death catches up to them. They decide that Delphi should stay behind. But then they mess up and Albus ceases to exist because they kill Harry and without him Voldemort returns.

Scorpius, Snape (who is still alive in this alternate world), and Ron and Hermione (who are rebels trying to kill Voldemort) try to fix the world and do. But when they return Cedric is still dead. They try to save Cedric one last time with Delphi. But Delphi had no intention to save Cedric Diggory for she was waiting to save her father, Tom Marvolo Riddle, or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named — only the bravest (and in Book 7, the most reckless) called him Lord Voldemort. But Albus and Scorpius don’t know her intentions until they see the Augurey on her neck and the murder of Craig Bowker Jr. When the time turner is smashed to dozens of pieces all hope is lost. Will they be able to save the Wizarding World from the new prophecy?

“When spares are spared, and time is turned, when unseen children murder their fathers: Then will the Dark Lord return.”         

Marshmallow’s review: I think that this book would be great for people who enjoyed reading the first seven Harry Potter books. Though this is written in the form of a screenplay (I read the Special Rehearsal Edition Script), it has a great plot. And all throughout, the real villain in this story had been hiding in the shadows waiting to strike. J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne twist and turn this beautifully written story and a moral for all, “Sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%. 

Marshmallow rates Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling 100%.
Marshmallow rates Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling 100%.