Twelve-year-old Gilly Cobbler lives in a boot with her parents and five younger siblings. Despite her father having created Cinderella’ s glass slippers the family is destitute. Gilly has taken to petty theft in order to help support her family, much to her parents dismay. When she is caught for the third time, she’s sent to the Fairy Tale Reform School. Founded and run by Flora, Cinderella’ s formerly wicked stepmother, it’s mission is to abolish evil from the kingdom of Enchantasia, and “turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes.” Gilly soon has a new worry to add to those she has about her family. There’s a mysterious plot underfoot at the school which could result in dire consequences for the kingdom. With instructors that include former villains such as Red Riding Hood’s Wolf, the Evil Queen, and the Sea Witch, things get complicated very quickly. It’s up to Gilly and her new friends to discover who the true villains are, before Enchantasia is put in mortal peril.
I love fractured fairy tales when they’re done well, and I’m happy to say Flunked is one of them. Gilly is a great heroine despite her sticky fingers. She’s strong-willed and sassy, yet she’s an extremely loyal friend, and one that is willing to look further than a person’s past. Enchantasia itself is intriguing. You’d think that a kingdom ruled by Cinderella, Snow White, and Rose (Sleeping Beauty), would be a picture perfect place to live. Alas! Not so. Poverty and corruption are rampant and the three princesses are not always the hands-on rulers they should be. The concept of the reform school I found to be quite clever and it’s messages regarding friendship and forgiveness are clear without being cloying. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys unique versions of fairytales. I’m looking forward to the further adventures of Miss Gilly Cobbler.