When 12-year-old Gilly, eldest daughter of the shoemaker, is caught with stolen goods, she is sent to Fairy Tale Reform School for rehabilitation.
Life as a commoner in Enchantasia, a fairy-tale kingdom ruled over by Cinderella, Snow White, Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty) and Rapunzel, is hardly ideal. Poverty, crime and social unrest plague this less-than-magical land. Gilly’s father, inventor of Cinderella’s famous glass slipper, struggles to feed his large family. Gilly’s thievery is both her attempt to help her family as well as her revenge against the unfair caste system. A three-strike rule finds her arrested and sentenced to reform school. However, mysterious events during Gilly’s incarceration reveal that life in Enchantasia might be a lot less magical than even she thought. With the Evil Queen and the Wolf for teachers and trolls, mermaids and fairies for friends, Gilly’s rehabilitation promises to be exciting. Unfortunately, in spite of a magical cast of characters and some genuinely sweet moments among Gilly and her friends and family, this fractured fairy tale falls flat. Hobbled by a stale premise, one-dimensional characters and forced dialogue, this first installment in a new series is less than promising.
For a more enjoyable spin across similar territory (though without the petty crime), try Shannon Hale’s The Storybook of Legends (2013) instead. (Fantasy. 9-12)