Title: The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy
Author: Nikki Loftin (@nikkiloftin)
Pub. Date: August, 2012
Summary: When Lorelei’s old school mysteriously burns down, a new one appears practically overnight: Splendid Academy. Rock-climbing walls on the playground and golden bowls of candy on every desk? Gourmet meals in the cafeteria, served by waiters? Optional homework and two recess periods a day? It’s every kid’s dream!
But Lorelei and her new friend Andrew are pretty sure it’s too good to be true. Together they uncover a sinister mystery, one with their teacher, the beautiful Ms. Morrigan, at the very center.
Then Andrew disappears, Lorelei has to save him, even if that means facing a past she’d like to forget – and taking on a teacher who’s a real witch.
Genre: MG, Fantasy
2012 is the year of retellings and until now, I can’t think of any other retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The moment I heard about this book, I desperately needed to read it. Luckily I was provided with an ARC (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!) and were it not for work – and, trust me, I was seriously tempted to call off – I would have finished The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy in one sitting.
Lorelei Robinson is an eleven year old girl harboring a terrible secret. Since the death of her mother a year earlier, she’s felt alone and ignored by her older brother and father. And her new stepmother Molly is an absolute terror.
When her school burns down, there’s talk of where to send the now-schooless children. Over the weekend a new school suddenly is built and the only one who seems to notice just how quickly it appeared is Lorelei. Despite the costs of a private school, Lorelei’s father agrees to check it out (much to the dismay of Molly; she’d much rather spend that money on herself).
Splendid Academy is unlike any other school. Not only does it have a pretty fantastic playground, but there are hardly any rules and it’s nearly impossible to get in trouble. Students are free to wander the halls or leave their classroom if a particular lesson doesn’t interest them. There are bowls of candy on every desk. Multiple recesses a day. Feel like playing with your phone instead of learning math? Go right ahead!
Even with these unbelievable perks, Splendid Academy’s claim to fame is the food. Oh, that food. Students are encouraged to eat as much as they’d like and upon touring the school, they were asked about their favorite foods. In many cases, students eat better at school than they do at home.
The only one who seems to suspect something strange is going on is Andrew, a boy in Lorelei’s class. Andrew is overweight and over the summer his mother had sent him off to camp. It was there he learned about controlling his eating and how to avoid cravings. While all the other students are stuffing their faces with plate after plate of food, Andrew is able to fight the temptation – and winds up dealing with the repercussions of going against the plans the school has for him.
Without giving too much away – although, given this book is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, what do you think will happen? – The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is a dark, delightful tale. I tore through this book, not just because of the quick pace, but because it was seriously that good. This book is described as Hansel and Gretel meets Coraline and that alone should send readers running to preorder it.
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is the reason I love Middle Grade. :)