Quests for Glory is a middle grade book written by Soman Chainani and published by HarperCollins and it continues the story of a group of students of a school for the greatest villains, heroes and princesses of all fairy tales that started in the trilogy The School for Good and Evil. In this book, the students face a new evil they must band together to destroy so they can keep the balance of evil and good in their world.
Anyone that hasn’t read the The School for Good and Evil trilogy and plans to do so in the future (if you weren’t going to I suggest you reconsider. I assure you, fellow Bookworm, you will not be disappointed) , please steer clear of this review as it contains many spoilers and wouldn’t make much sense to anyone who isn’t acquainted with the series.
Giving three and a half stars to a Soman Chainani book is like literally stabbing myself in the stomach – it’s unimaginable pain. Because, honestly, all I want to do is give it 5. Ok, so maybe I’m being dramatic but bear with me.
Ever since Chainani announced there would be a second trilogy and that The School for Good and Evil #4 was to be released this year, I reread the entire series twice, I looked for SFGAE fan edits, fan accounts and basically anything where I could vent my passion for these incredible books like a madwoman, I highlighted and basically memorized by heart all of my favorite Tagatha moments, I stalked Ever Never TV and Soman’s website like a creepy lunatic for any news update (and lost my mind whenever I was rewarded)…. and THEN the cover came out, and we got beautiful Tedros with his crown embracing Agatha, and my excitement reached levels it had never reached before!
Flash forward to when I finally got my book and sat down to read and well… I felt like I was waiting for a book soooo good that it’s possible it hasn’t even been written yet. Do not get me wrong: disappointment is DEFINITELY NOT what I felt. This book was absolutely amazing, it’s just that my thirst for this book was so incredibly vast that no amount of pages or action or Tagatha moments could have quenched it.
Overall, there are way more things that I liked about this book than things I did not. So then why rate it less than five stars? Well, first I’d like to state all the things that I loved before getting to the messy part of this review.
- The first thing I need to point out is the quality of the writing in this book. Soman never ceases to amaze me. I love the way he seems to improve in every book and this one was no exception. He manages to string words into sentences that give the story a sort of comical feeling and I often felt like I was watching it all unfold through the TV, rooting for the crew in their adventures. The dialogue, as always, was super fun and interesting to read.
- I was very satisfied with the fact that Soman managed to keep the same dynamics between the characters while still showcasing the character’s personal growth both throughout the novel (Hort, I’m looking at you) and in the six months that spammed between the third book and this one. All of them managed to mature and grow into even more amazing characters which allowed the book to be completely different, in the sense that we weren’t reading yet another book about the exact same characters, while still feeling like the perfect continuation of the first three. The way Soman wrote about ‘the crew’ and how they all stood up for each other throughout the book gave me all kinds of heartwarming feelings. The different POVs really gave me much needed and much desired insight into the other character’s thoughts and feelings and it made the story much more complex and bigger than just Sophie and Agatha.
- I really felt the love and appreciation between Sophie and Agatha in this book. In the last three, we get to see how their friendship is put to the test time and time again, and how they always have to learn how far they’re willing to go for the other. In this book however, the reader can tell they’re both past that point and their interactions prove that they’ve come to reach a deep level of understanding of one another. Although – true to Sophie and Agatha fashion – they bicker and fight , they stick their necks out for each other, they accept the other as they are and they both learn to feel happy for the other.
- The new characters. Bogden, William, Nicola, Lady Gremlaine, the new villains, the pirates… all of them were really great additions to the series and I honestly can’t wait to see how their stories will unfold. I loved Nicola, I think she was a refreshing new character, although at the beginning, she reminded me too much of Agatha in the first book, but as her story unfolded I was able to understand her more and suddenly her role in the plot became clear. Lady Gremlaine seemed like a very complex character, and even though she gave me the creeps at times, I felt for her. I’m eager to see more of her backstory revealed in the next book. Also, shoutout to the LGBT+ representation in the crew (William and Bogden are too cute for words, AND the Hester and Anadil moment in Sherwood Forest had me crying of happiness!! Thank you Soman, for making all Hanadil shippers dream come true!! Please let there be more of these in the following books.)
- The world building. It’s been obvious, since book #1, that Soman Chainani has an incredible imagination but the way he describes all of the Ever and Never territories and kingdoms in this book is wild. I really felt like I was getting to know all of the places he described and honestly…hands down.
Now, there was one thing about this book that was a total turn off for me, enough of one for me to give it four stars instead of five and it was the following: this book had a lot of twists and turns – which I’m all for – and it had a sort of suspenseful element to it as everyone tried to find out who the Snake was and the story around it, but I honestly felt like it was hindered by all of the repetition. As soon as the Snake came into the story, one chapter did not go by without someone repeating the same thing about how the Snake was coming for the Lion by first undermining his authority in the Woods and how the Lion had to strike it down to keep his throne. And after the Lady of the Lake revealed to Sophie that the Snake might or might not have Arthur’s blood, the same thing was repeated throughout the book constantly as it was revealed to different characters and it was constantly subject to everybody’s repetitive theories about what it might mean even though it was pretty obvious. The constant dialogue explaining and reiterating the same thing over and over again sort of killed the thrilling suspense of it all for me. It oftentimes felt like the author was trying to deliberately induce suspense and mystery into the story and it felt forced at times.
Also, same thing for the beginning, when everyone seemed to be planning and scheming and talking about their next step but not actually doing anything for the first 35% of the book. Although to be fair, I can see why. I mean, they had just endured an all-out war against a very Evil School Master six months prior and I’d understand if they were stalling.
All in all, I feel very lucky. When I was done with The Last Ever After, I knew the story and these characters were going to remain dear in a special place in my heart forever. So the fact that we have been blessed with another three books to enjoy is beyond what we deserve. This is a highly recommended book to anyone who enjoys middle grade fantasy novels, but most importantly, to anyone who lives for a story of friendship, true love and bravery with a fairy tale twist!
B & L