Series: Fairy Tale Reform School #1
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on March 3rd,2015
Genre: Fairy Tale Fantasy,Middle Grade
Have you ever wondered what happened to Cinderella’s step-mother after her happily-ever after?What about the Evil Queen who poisoned Snow White with an apple?Or the numerous other Disney fairy tale villains?Well,if you want the answers to these questions, then Flunked might just be the book for you.In this first installment of the Fairy Tale Reform School series,Jen Calonita tells us how in the fairy tale land of Enchantasia,which is ruled by Cinderella,now Princess Ella and the other fairy tale princesses,Cinderella’s step mother,Flora,has started the Fairy Tale Reform School which is ‘the education program for the wicked and the criminally mischievous’ .
As we read the school is gearing up to celebrate its Fifth Anniversary which now boasts of successful alumni turned teachers,viz.,the Wolf now called Professor Xavier who teaches History,the Sea Witch turned FTRS etiquette expert,Madame Cleo,and the Evil Queen aka Professor Harlow who teaches psychology and runs group therapy sessions in FTRS.The school situated in the outskirts of Enchantasia near the Hollow Woods,has welcomed more than five hundred gnomes,trolls,dwarfs,elves,mer-folk,and other morally corrupt fairy-tale children as its students. To this school our little protagonist,Gilly, is thrown in when she is caught stealing one time too many by Olaf and Snow White’s dwarf squad who form the law enforcement of Enchantasia.Gilly,short for Gillian Cobbler,daughter of the shoemaker who’d made Cinderella’s glass slipper,is not happy with the situation and finds more reason to resent the royal princesses who had robbed her family of their livelihood when Princess Ella commissioned her Fairy Godmother to magically supply shoes for the royals.She is determined to escape the walls of the reform school as soon as possible and resume stealing to provide for her younger siblings.But in FTRS she befriends a fellow student fairy,Kayla and a thieving farm boy named Jax.While she tries to remain under the radar endeavouring to be released early for good behaviour,she manages to antagonize Professor Harlow’s equally evil and bitchy sister,Jocelyn who lands her in detentions.And when she gets wind of trouble brewing in FTRS which might lead to the reign of evil once again in Enchantasia,Gilly has to choose between a life of a thief to support her family or take the opportunity to be a hero for greater good.
A quick and cute read,Flunked seems promising for its intended readership with its spunky twelve year old narrator who with her unique voice makes the reading experience enjoyable.But if you’ve been raised on a diet of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, this will seem like a poor imitation of Potterland.The school itself with its forbidden forest,out of bounds school areas and secret passages,magical food service not only feels like Hogwarts but a menacing,Gilly hating,Jocelyn favouring (read Draco Malfoy),black wearing,dueling teacher Professor Harlow sounds eerily similar to Professor Snape.Not to mention there is a Sybill Trelawney style dream prophecy made by Madame Cleo.I suppose it is not fair to compare it to a classic since most books take inspiration from classics,and I do appreciate Calonita’s effort in creating a fairy-tale land after the famous happily ever afters.The Happily Ever After Scrolls(Enchantasia’s news service),the flying Pegasi,Miri,the Evil Queen’s talking mirror are cleverly used in the plotline.Also,the take on the class system in Enchantasia shows that even life in fairy-tale land is not always fair.
The story has a good start but somewhere loses its steam in the middle with a weak climax.Despite having promising characters as the main villains,and teachers such as Wolfington,they are not utilised to their full potential.
Since,this is only the first book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series,I believe more details will be woven into the future installments.Flunked does not end on a cliffhanger and can thus be read as a standalone.
Would you send a villain to do a hero’s job?
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?(via happilyeverafterscrolls.net)