I really love the premise behind this series. Fairy tales are even more fun when they are turned on their ear and Chainani does an excellent job of re-writing the rules for a new generation. I was so dismayed to see what had happened to the school, standing on the brink of war between the genders and so thrilled to see that the Three Witches were the only ones not taken in by the new roles. Still, I NEED MORE WITCHES, Hester, Anadil, and Dot were my favorite part of the first book and, though they play an important role in this one, there is still just not enough. Can I get a side story or novella that just features them?? I am also a big fan of how the evil in this story did not take on the traditional form and came from a more unexpected place.
The story itself was fast paced and fun. It was frustrating to see Sophie and Agatha mistrust each other so much but it added some great conflict that had nothing to do with the traditional love triangle and everything to do with their own relationship. Though there was an aspect of romance, the story did not get bogged down with this story and instead explored the friendship between the girls and their own struggle with good and evil. The character did fall a little flat for me this time around. I found Agatha's suspicion of Sophie without proof more than a little annoying and her desire for a boy that wanted to murder her best friend, more than a little unbelievable. How can Sophie show that she is loyal if you never give her a chance? She seemed like such an intelligent character the first time around and I am not sure where that girl went. The one thing that I appreciated much more in this book was getting some backstory on the girls' parents and the issues surrounding their town. There were some unanswered questions about Sophie's parents' relationship and I am hoping the answer will be found in the third book, shedding some light on why Sophie is the way that she is.
This novel also featured some amazing illustrations. I love middle grade novels that have illustrations. It adds so much to the book to see how someone else is picturing a particular character or scene and I got a little thrill every time that I came across one.
I have to say, there was one aspect that threw me off a little. It almost seemed like the plot being centered around Sophie and Agatha's "mistake" and the dangerous circumstances that result was a criticism of women who don't "need" men. There seemed to be a lot of pressure for Agatha to make the "right" choice - which just happened to be reuniting with her prince (a man and attempted murderer). The only people who seemed genuinely happy in the girls being one another's soulmate, were being hoodwinked by the BadGuy. I found this theme very distracting as I kept wondering where exactly the author was going with this. I certainly didn't see this in the first book, and am very much hoping that it will be resolved in the third.
The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, ensuring that I will be back for the third installment, even if it is just to see what secrets will be revealed about Sophie's parents and the fate of the School for Good and Evil.