I was cross-posting my reviews to Goodreads today and realized I hadn’t really published a whole lot of reviews on my blog which seemed odd. It felt like I had written a lot more than that. Then I looked at my drafts. I have written a lot more than that. I have over 30 drafts just sitting there waiting for me to get finish them up, most of which are reviews. So did I sit down and finish one? No. I decided to finish this post instead.
Introducing: The Yelling About Things I Love series!
The Yelling About Things I Love series is mostly going to be me gushing over something I adore without feeling like I have to convey a whole lot about the subject except how much it absolutely rocks my world. It’s like a low pressure, low stakes review but just happy things. Also not just limited to books/series. I’ll probably yell about favorite genres, authors, tropes, etc. The only rules are 1) it makes me happy and 2) I’m gonna yell about it!
Today I’m going to be yelling about the Fairy Tale Reform School series by Jen Calonita. This series is just plain fun. The easiest things I can think to compare it to are Descendants and The School for Good and Evil with just a bit of Shrek thrown in for good measure. To give you an idea of what we’re working with, here’s the summary for the first book in the series, Flunked:
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?
While the setting for these books is certainly fun (a reform school run by reformed villains themselves? Ummm? Yes, please!), what really makes this series are the characters. The book is full of both familiar characters from well-known fairy tales and original characters as well as a smattering of magical creatures. Our main four villain teachers are the Cinderella’s evil stepmother (Flora), the big bad wolf from Little Red Riding Hood (Wolfington), Snow White’s Evil Queen (Harlow), and the sea witch from The Little Mermaid (Madame Cleo), and they all have different personalities. Headmistress Flora is very strict and serious about running the school and Wolfington is everyone’s favorite teacher – we all know the type. Best of all to me was the sea witch, who goes around in tanks throughout the school, teaching dance and etiquette and the Evil Queen acting as a guidance counselor with the aid of many a self-help book. Did I mention that the Magic Mirror is a hall monitor?
We also get to see our beloved Princesses through a different light. Our main character Gilly, isn’t overly fond of the royals and rightfully so – Fairy Godmother stole her father’s glass slipper design and is making it hard for the family business to succeed. While we’re used to seeing the Royals as benevolent beings, beloved by all, through Gilly we’re shown that the greed and naivete of the royals has effects throughout the kingdom and that sometimes, even the royalty can err. Similar to having the villains be reformed and teaching children how to be good, seeing the darker side of the Princesses and princess politics was fun.
While the majority of the series is told with the main character, Gilly, as the narrator, from time to time we get fun updates on things outside the school in the form of the Happily Ever After Scrolls – a fun, gossip-y newspaper that magically appears on scrolls. And appear on scrolls they do in the book itself as each time we get these little news breaks, the page is formatted to look like a scroll. I know it’s not really a huge thing, but it was fun and it always made me happy. I looked forward to reading each new scroll.
Similarly, I find myself clambering to get my hands on each book in the series as it releases. I’m already a sucker for fairy tale retellings, but this series is just so fun and cute. I always know I’m in for a fun read when a new book comes out. Even when the book itself doesn’t necessarily give me everything I want from a book, I always know I’ll have a good time reading it and meeting the new characters.
AND GUESS WHAT! I don’t even have to wait for a new Fairy Tale Reform School book to come out to get my fix anymore because Jen Calonita has created a spin-off series, The Royal Academy Rebels, which focuses on students at the school for Enchatasia’s young royals. I squealed when I spotted the first book on the shelves at my bookstore – in part because I had no idea the spin-off existed and in part because I now get double my Enchantasia fix.
Obviously, I love the series. I could go on about it forever. But to sort of wrap this post up in a reasonable amount of space (and not bore anyone still reading), I’d highly recommend this series to anyone wanting a fun middle grade fantasy series that puts a new spin on the fairy tale characters you know and love. It’s funny, adorable, and at times even clever while not taking itself too seriously. Especially if you like Descendants or want something to keep you going between School for Good and Evil releases. I truly adore this series and hope that others can find as much joy in it as I have.