“The Storybook of Legends (Ever After High #1)” by Shannon Hale
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Summary from Goodreads:
At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens…whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.
As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s destiny is to follow in her mother’s wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven’s style. She’s starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.
What if Raven doesn’t sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.
As a fan of fractured and retold fairy tales, I was quite excited to read this book. A boarding school where fairy tale characters learn how to follow their stories? An Evil Queen who doesn’t want to be evil? Sign me up!
The idea of the story is fantastic but the actual execution was really lackluster. The story felt way too much like a Disney channel movie. The story was sickeningly sweet. MyChapter, Tailor Quick, MirrorPhone, Grimmnastics, and you get the picture. Initially it was clever but it became too much for me. I’m sure younger readers might find it cool though.
The characters were pretty flat for me. Raven’s friends were just there to be quirky. Apple was perfect. She broke out of character a bit to help Raven but it was only to secure her own fate. Raven was the only character with a bit of spunk. She was unwilling to fold and follow in her mother’s evil footsteps. She’d rather carve out her own uncertain path. It’s a great message but it was still a pretty superficial one.
There weren’t even any real villains or antagonists in the book. Raven could be considered one but that’s really pushing it. Headmaster Grimm technically was the villain. The only real evil things he does are only talked about in the epilogue. I don’t really see any motive for me. It’s just mean to be mean. That’s always really annoying to me.
The bottom line? As an adult reader, I was pretty unimpressed. I’m sure the intended audience would enjoy it much more.