Monday, February 27, 2017

ARC REVIEW: Tricked by Jen Calonita (Fairy Tale Reform School #3)

Author: Jen Calonita
Series: Fairy Tale Reform School
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy*
Publishing Date: March 7, 2017
*This book is considered MG and YA by different sources. Based on story complexity and characters, I would put it in Middle Grade.

I received an e-copy ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

4/5 stars
G for Good, clean fun!
Recommend to younger readers who enjoy adventure and fantasy. This would make a great classroom or family read. Though the main character is a girl, the story will definitely be enjoyable to boys as well!
If you liked Rump by Liesl Shurtliff, The Ever Afters by Shelby Bach, The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull, or the Shrek films, you'll love this series!

Overall Impression:
Calonita once again delivers a fun fairy-tale themed adventure with strong, capable characters and a valuable theme. You know what they say; third time's the charm.


This book is Aunt Approved!
As an aunt with 16 niblings between the ages of
0-13, I wouldn't hesitate letting them read this book!
Things are changing at Fairy Tale Reform School.

At least, that's what Gilly's heard through the Enchantasia rumor mill. Word is, notorious trickster Rumpelstiltskin has taken over management from Headmistress Flora, and he's locked down the school tighter than the Pied Piper's pants. Not that this news concerns Gilly. She's been released from FTRS and is now suffering through attending Jack of All Trades School, where she gets to learn about different kinds of shoe leather and ways to measure feet. Truly riveting stuff.

But when Gilly's little sister Anna gets whisked off to FTRS thanks to her troublemaking new friends, Hansel and Gretel, Gilly knows she's got to get Anna out of there. There's only one thing to do; make some serious trouble and get thrown back into FTRS.

It's time to out-trick a trickster.

A villain is running FTRS!

Well, a real one, not like the reformed Evil Stepmother, Evil Queen, Sea Witch, and Big Bad Wolf who have been on the payroll up to now. And of all the trials Gilly has faced, the fact that the trickster Rumpelstiltskin has usurped Flora as head of the school isn't even the worst of it:

It's that her little sister Anna is thrown into FTRS and his clutches.

Anna's story has been slowly building from the first book and I like the direction it's taking. Calonita is taking her time revealing the little sister's development, and I love it! I can't wait to see where Anna winds up and I love watching how it effects Gilly's own development, having to watch her sister make mistakes but not being able to stop her. Just like Gilly has learned to make her own choices -and accept the consequences- she has to learn to let others do the same.

I've loved this series since the very beginning and this third installment is just as good as the rest. The more Gilly and her friends develop -and save Enchantasia from evil- the more they learn new ways in which to develop -and more evil to save Enchantasia from!

The world of Enchantasia and its Fairy Tale Reform School is a modern-ish, sort of whacky fantasy land. It's magic-tech and renaissance-style modern conveniences reminds me a lot of the Shrek franchise and the movie version of Ella Enchanted. From the instant news notifications of Happily Ever After Scrolls!  to the Pegasus Post mail service, Calonita puts a clever twist on tons of familiar things to fit them in her fantasy that readers will get a kick out of.

One of the things I love most about Calonita's world is how she's developed beloved fairy tale characters, from the reformed villains, to Little Red Riding Hood, to the Princesses themselves: (Cinder)Ella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White. In their own ways, each of these characters has grown through the experience of their 'fairy tale', developing and empowering them in different ways. Often, one or more of them lend their own bit of advice to the story's overall theme.

After two books and two Enchantasia-saving adventures, I was glad to see the adults around Gilly and her friends recognized their abilities to help defeat the villains. Granted, the adults weren't happy about the kids taking on a villain, but recognizing the students' stubborn determination to do it anyway, they helped where they could. The teachers of FTRS, the Princesses of Enchantasia and, most importantly, their parents take the kids seriously, and I think this is a great thing for kids to see!

The adults in the story don't serve up answers or solutions on a silver platter, either. Wolfington (aka Big Bad Wolf) especially likes to offer advice and guidance that insists they make their own decisions, based on what's right vs. what's wrong. In the end, Gilly and the others always find themselves on the side of right, but it's very important that they struggle with those decisions and it's their own choices that led them there.

There's enough in this story to entertain all kinds of readers: adventure, mystery, fantasy, and spies! Gilly's motley crew consists of all kinds of personalities -including my personal favorite, mischievous Jax, who may or may not remind me of Chase Turnleaf- a hyperactive fairy, a pirate-obsessed sweet thief, a jewelry-loving ogre, and the Evil Queen's little sister. I personally think the covers for this series are GORGEOUS but they are a little girly, so I want to stress THIS IS A GOOD READ FOR BOYS, TOO. If they can get past the cover, and don't mind a girl narrator, they will love this story.

Gilly is a great character for kids to look up to. In turns tough-as-nails, mischievous, and funny, she always stands up for what she knows is right, she protects her friends, and she looks out for her siblings. She does have flaws. She makes mistakes. But Calonita does a great job of letting her and her friends learn from their mistakes, without losing a step of the fun story.

Every book so far has had a good core theme that are especially great to stress for kids. The theme of Tricked would be: Don't let what people say or think about you stop you from being yourself.

In addition to the great but subtle moral fiber of the story and the encouraging development of all the characters, this series is just pure fun!

Have you read the Fairy Tale Reform School series yet?


  1. The Fairy Tale Reform School books have caught my eyes a few times in the bookstore but I've just never taken the plunge. Probably because they look geared towards a younger audience, but the fun covers always catch my eye. I like the sound of the fantasy world, with the renaissance- ish elements (and Pegasus Post? Cool!) and also nice that parents get involved and don't treat the kids like idiots. :)

    Looks fun- great review!

    1. Thanks, Greg! To be fair, it is geared toward a younger audience; the plot can be predictable, but they're so much fun I don't care. ^_^

  2. I had never heard of this series. Looks so fun! It looks like this book has it all!I bet my daughter would love it, Thanks for the great review.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I've got a couple of nieces I can't wait to get hooked on this. Hope your daughter enjoys it!