Another wonderful entry in the Fairy Tale Reform School series! Look, it's no secret that I have a soft spot for these kinds of stories. I'm a Middle Grade reader, trapped in an adult's body. I love magic, mischief, and stories about great friendships. It's no wonder, then, that I also love Jen Calonita's writing. I enjoyed the first book, Flunked, immensely. So I couldn't wait to get my hands on Charmed and see what Gilly was up to now.
The first thing I noticed about this sequel was that Gilly has grown up. Oh, sure, she's still a rascal. She and her friends get up to all sorts of silliness. At the heart of it though, Gilly knows what true evil looks like now. She understands that people can get hurt, and that the choices we make affect others. I loved how Calonita didn't just let Gilly sit at this new point in her life though. Instead, she grows even more throughout the course of this book. Middle Grade readers need good role models and, as feisty as Gilly is, she definitely fits that bill.
Plus, there were so many more fairy tale references to fall in love with! I can't deny that I'm a sucker for a fairy tale pun. Those abound here, and if I'm finding myself giggling I have no doubt that young readers will too. I also appreciated the addition of new, and interesting characters. Most notably, Blackbeard makes his debut here. The idea that a new reader might want to discover the history of that dreaded pirate? Well, it makes me all giddy. He also adds a nice lightness to everything, what with his pirate manners and all. Pirates aren't exactly known for their manners.
I'm being completely honest when I say that I hope there's more of these stories to come. The ending had me a bit teary eyed, and truly hoping that this isn't the last I'll see of Gilly and her friends. If you have a young reader at home, especially one who enjoys a good fairy tale, this is a series you should get them started on. Jen Calonita's writing is wonderful.
I'd had high hopes for this book and by the end...most were met. But for the first half or more, I found this to be cliche and a bit disappointing. Though that might be partially the fault of the audiobook. I had to give up on it slightly before half way and switch to the book; the narrator's voice made half of them sound like whiny teenagers. Now they may be just that but I will not listen to that if there's anyway to avoid it, so the audiobook had to go.
The country of Enchantasia (ha, ha - eye roll) is ruled by the famous princesses: Ella, Snow, Rose (Sleeping Beauty), and Rapunzel. Though Gottie (Rapunzel's villian...I think) and Alva (Sleeping Beauty's villian) are still loose, everyone is fairly safe and doing well - though the cobblers are in a downturn as Ella gave Glass Slipper creation rights to Fairy Godmothers. The rest of the villains are reformed. The Stepmonster (Flora), Wolfington (best not to mention Grandmother), Madam Cleo (the Sea Witch), and Harlow (Snow White's Evil Queen) live in an enchanted castle where they have turned their lives around and now help young people who are on the path to villainy.
Yep, they run Fairy Tale Reform School!
Their Mission: "To turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes."