“EVER AFTER HIGH, Book 2: The Unfairest of Them All,” by Shannon Hale, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $14.99, 326 pages (f) (ages 8-12)
“The Unfairest of Them All” considers the power of choices and the ripple effects that those choices have.
Ever After High is a boarding school for children of famous fairy tales characters under the watchful eye of Headmaster Grimm. Each year on Legacy Day, the students must sign the Storybook of Legends and commit to play a role in their stories so that they and their tales will continue to live on.
In the first book, “The Storybook of Legends,” Raven Queen, the daughter of the Evil Queen from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” among other tales, decided she didn’t want to do evil and didn’t sign her page, leaving the characters in her story, including Apple White, Daring Charming and Hunter Huntsman, and their potential happily ever afters, in limbo.
The second book in the Ever After High series picks up right where the first left off in the aftermath of Raven’s choice with the rest of Legacy Day canceled. Some of the other characters, mostly the Royals who had happily ever afters, aren’t too pleased with facing an unscripted future. But the ones who didn’t have one or wanted something different, dubbed the Rebels, are cautiously curious how their stories will end.
Other characters’ choices unfortunately put Raven and Apple’s friend, Madeline Hatter, in danger of being banished, and Raven and Apple work together to clear their friend's name despite their own problems. However, when they turn to Raven’s mother, the Evil Queen, who is locked in a magical mirror prison, for help, her intentions aren’t just about helping Madeline.
Shannon Hale has once again created an entertaining story that tackles the issue of destiny and making choices in a way that is easy to understand. She also creatively weaves in threads and lessons about friendship and cooperation despite differences throughout the story. Although the themes of choices and consequences can be a heavy topic, Hale keeps the story light and flowing.
The Ever After High world plays on practically every cliché of fairy tales, and Hale has fun with modern twists and keeps it from being too over-the-top.
“The Unfairest of Them All” also includes several characters from the original fairy tales, including Red Riding Hood and Old King Cole, as it’s time for Yester Day visits and Raven is looking for someone who successfully went off-script and Apple is trying to find a way to calm the chaos of not having a script.
Hale is also writing the third book in the series, “A Wonderlandiful World,” which is due out in August. Email: email@example.com Twitter: CTRappleye