It's no surprise to my regular readers that I enjoy fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and I love middle grade books, though I don't always get to make time to read them anymore. So...when Shannon Hale announced that she'd be writing the first novel in the new EVER AFTER HIGH series, I *knew* I would have to check it out.
The Storybook of Legends
by Shannon Hale
Ever After High, book one
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. (Description from Goodreads.com)
As a fairy tale lover, I really loved the concept of this book. Getting to see the future generations of our beloved characters is a real treat. Imagining the little ways that they would be different from the originals must have been so fun for Shannon Hale! Overall, I was really impressed with how fun this book was and yet, how well it presents really deep themes to kids - the concept of detiny vs. freedom of choice, self-identity versus fitting into the crowd, etc. A great read.
The Unfairest of Them All
by Shannon Hale
Ever After High, book two
It's the aftermath of Legacy Day, the day when the students at Ever After High are supposed to pledge to follow in their fairytale parents' footsteps, and everyone is in a huff and a puff! Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, has refused to sign the Storybook of Legends, rejecting her story--and putting everyone else's in jeopardy.
The Royal Apple White doesn't want to think Raven is being a rebellious pain, but Raven's choice means Apple might never get the poisoned apple, Prince Charming, and a kingdom to rule. Behind Apple stands the Royals, those who want to play by the book and embrace their stories. The Rebels, supporters of Raven, believe in breaking free from destiny and writing their own stories.
But when the chaos and rivalry land wonderlandiful Madeline Hatter in trouble, Raven and Apple must bring the Royals and the Rebels together to shut the book on their feud before it threatens to end all of their Happily Ever Afters once and for all. (Description from Goodreads.com)
I loved returning to this world and seeing how the tween characters struggled to find their place after Raven chooses to follow her own path...not the one laid out for her. Again, the way that concepts and themes were presented was so very well done, though with Hale writing this book as well, I shouldn't really have been surprised. Maddie is one of my favorite characters and seeing how things go for her in this book and knowing that we get to explore a little more of the Wonderland-ish story in the next one makes me really excited!
If you want to get a little taste of this series without having to read the entire 300 page first book, you can check out the ebook character introductions - available on all ebook platforms, I think... - which are short and very cute. There's a bunch of them, and a few even give you a little more insight into the individual characters, adding depth to parts of the storylines in the regular novels.
Full disclosure: Books Borrowed from my Library, enovellas "purchased" for my Kindle App