Creepy reimagining of Hansel & Gretel

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy - Nikki Loftin

 

 

This book is creepy. I mean, I'm an adult and I was scared for Lorelei. She is a girl facing a great deal of sadness and guilt. We learn early on that her mother died last year and for some reason, Lorelei feels guilty about this.

 

When a beautiful new school with an amazing playground suddenly appears, and their old school mysteriously burns down, Lorelei and her brother are enrolled at Splendid Academy. This school is unlike any school they have been to before. They are allowed to run in the halls, leave class whenever they want, don't have to raise their hands, and get to eat.... a lot. The school provides breakfast and lunch, and there is a bowl of candy at each student's desk that never goes empty. None of the students notice anything unusual, except for one overweight boy, Andrew. Andrew tries to convince Lorelei that something is wrong, but will she be able to see past her guilt to the truth, especially when the truth is so unbelievable?

 

I remember every single child I've ever brought into my schools... They become a part of me.  - Chapter 3

 

A child's finger? Your imagination's running away with you, Lorelei. Focus. - Chapter 17

 

I'm not a cook; you know I'm just a kid. I never boiled water before in my life. - Chapter 26

Lorelei is so sad and so alone. The new principal appeals to her loneliness and makes her feel warm and loved - she hasn't felt that way since her mother died. Lorelei wants to believe the principal is good, she needs to believe it.

 

This book deals with so many serious issues and it is pretty dark. I enjoyed it and finished it quickly. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next.

 

This is a Grade 6-8 Sunshine State book. It seems a bit dreary to me and it may be frightening to some kids, so use your judgment. I would keep it more for the older range or kids who like dark fairy tales. It is well-written, fast-moving, and quite an original take on Hansel & Gretel.

 

Recommended to:

Grades 6 and up, readers who enjoy their fairy tales dark and creepy.