Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

Ever After HighInformation

Goodreads: Ever After High:  The Storybook of Legends
Series: Ever After High #1
Source: Library
Published: October 1, 2013

Official Summary

At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens…whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s destiny is to follow in her mother’s wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven’s style. She’s starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn’t sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.


This review has to begin by addressing the elephant in the room: The premise of The Storybook of Legends makes absolutely no sense—and the problem is not one that can be fixed, bar rewriting the entire book with a new plot.  In Hale’s fairy tale world, each new generation of characters must relive their parents’ stories.  Apple White will become the next Snow White, eat an apple, fall asleep, fall in love, etc.  Ashlynn Ella will become the next Cinderella, work hard, go to a ball,  meet her prince, lose her shoe, etc.  And so on.  This social structure raises a lot of questions.

For one, why are all these characters in high school together?  Holly O’Hair (Rapunzel) should have been kidnapped as a baby and raised in a tower.  Ashlynn (Cinderella) should have had a terrible childhood with an evil stepmother.  Briar (Sleeping) Beauty should be hidden away from spinning wheels. And so on.  These fairy tale characters have already missed half of their stories!  Other complications arise, however.  Apple White and Raven Queen are supposed to be Snow White and the Evil Queen, which means Raven should be Apple’s stepmother.  She is not.  This is actually mentioned in the book and the characters shrug it off, saying, “There must be slight variations in the story.”

Yet other characters have similar relationship problems.  For instance, Ashlynn Ella’s parents are Cinderella and Prince Charming—yet Ashlynn is supposed to marry Prince Charming.  But would not her brother, if she had one, be Prince Charming?  Whom, then, does she marry?  And, since her mother Cinderella is still alive, must  she suddenly die so that Ashlynn’s father can remarry an evil stepmother?  And then does her family suddenly lose their fortune and royal status so Ashlynn can live as a mistreated commoner girl?  The questions  can go on and on and on, for each and every one of the characters.  Saying that the stories must change a bit with each general of fairy tale characters is far from an adequate explanation.

Nonsensical premise aside (and we must put it aside to get anywhere with this book), The Storybook of Legends is a pretty entertaining read.  It is more commercial, or perhaps gimmicky, than Hale’s typical stories, filled with cheesy modern references to musicians (Taylor Quick), and brands and with silly fairy tale puns.  The characters have their own fantasy slang, such as telling each other they look “fairy nice,” apparently an attempt to make the book sound hip.

The story’s strongest point, however, is probably the characters.  Though Hale is working with fairy tale “types” and with somewhat predetermined personalities, she manages to make each person come alive.  Even the characters truly invested in living out their well-known destinies have unique hopes, dreams, and quirks.  Apple White is determined to be the best queen she can, yet experiences moments of self-doubt.  Briar Beauty wants to live life to the fullest, since she is going to spend a lot of time sleeping.  Dexter Charming wishes to be as brave and, well, charming as his older brother.  Hale’s star character, however, is Madeline Hatter, a slightly mad girl who speaks in Riddlish yet has the world’s biggest heart and a lot of wisdom.  For me, her charisma helps her outshine even protagonist Raven Queen.

The main storyline, following Raven as she decides whether or not to sign the Storybook of Legends and seal her destiny as the world’s most evil queen, is an engaging little adventure.  Raven gets into a number of escapades, some related to discovering her destiny, some just to get her through the daily trials of high school.  Readers spend as much time with Raven trying to navigate friendships and classes and they do navigating magical perils.  In the end, the plot does not get quite as far as readers might wish, instead saving the things that I, at least, really wanted to know for future books in the series.  The Storybook of Legends just gives readers a taste, introducing characters and the main problem, without really solving it.  Truthfully, I would have liked to see a tighter plot, with everything answered and tied up in a standalone, rather than an entire Ever After High series.

All that said, The Storybook  of Legends is still fun, creative, and cute.  Shannon Hale has written better books, but for a book trying to sell a series of Mattel dolls, it really is quality stuff. I would recommend it for readers who enjoy light fairy tale retellings and fantasy books with a modern touch.

9 thoughts on “Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

  1. Eustacia Tan says:

    What a coincidence! I just finished reading this book and I’m going to post a review of it sometime this week 😀

    Personally, I loved the cartoon series, so this book was like a dream come true for me ^^


    • Briana says:

      I did enjoy the book (I’m not sure how much that came through in my review), but there were things that simply didn’t make sense. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your thoughts, though!

      (I’ve also been hanging out on the Ever After High website and watching the little videos, so there’s that….)


    • Briana says:

      It is fun! I did think it was super-cute and I would recommend it to people who like fairy tale retellings, I just felt a little cheated and couldn’t help asking myself: Did the publisher think I wouldn’t notice that the premise was illogical? :p


  2. jennasthilaire says:

    Ooh, I’m glad you reviewed this! I love Shannon Hale… but I did read the short previews that were released, and the premise was confusing. I also had a hard time getting past Taylor Quick. 😛

    It’s great to know it’s fun and that the characters are interesting. I might wind up reading it out of a combination of Shannon-loyalty and desperate curiosity about Madeline Hatter and Riddlish!


    • Briana says:

      I would recommend reading it. It’s very cute and has Shannon Hale’s creative touch. (And I do love Madeline. I think you would, too!)

      Interestingly, I just read Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross, and it has a similar premise. Characters are cursed by fairies to live fairy tale lives. It makes much more sense, however, because 1) The role isn’t passed from parents to children, so there’s no strange incestuousness. 2) The characters aren’t literally Cinderella or Beauty or Snow White. They’re just cursed to do something similar to that character. So Sleeping Beauty doesn’t necessarily have to cut herself on a spindle, just something sharp, and she can wake up whenever someone with a prince “role” wakes her, not necessarily in a 100 years.

      It’s a little hard to explain briefly, but it was far more logical, and it was also darker (probably the difference being that Kill Me Softly is YA and Ever After High MG). But it doesn’t shy away from the horror of the original fairy tales, which is something never touched upon by Hale. Technically, by begging Raven Queen to just fulfill her destiny as the evil queen, Apple White is asking her to get killed by falling off a cliff. Yet that is never brought up.


      • jennasthilaire says:

        Good to know, and thanks for the recommendation!

        I’d never heard of the Sarah Cross book, I don’t think, but it sounds fascinating.


  3. Krysta says:

    The premise really bothers me not so much because it makes no sense but because someone somewhere must have noticed that it made no sense and decided editing was unnecessary since the combined forces of dolls and Shannon Hale were sure to make the book sell anyway. And that’s no reason not to try to make a book as good as it can possibly be. Did I enjoy the story anyway? Well, no, the plot didn’t make sense to me, either. Mostly I kept reading because I loved Madeline Hatter.


    • Briana says:

      I would agree I was invested more in the characters and the setting. (Fairy tale boarding school? That’s like Hogwarts, right? Just something really fun to imagine.) The plot, however, was somewhat predictable (We all know what Raven is going to decide) and the overall structure makes no sense. You kind of have to get past that and enjoy the story moment by moment.


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