Some people just make terrible villains.
Take young spellcaster Rune, for example, stuck in Master Dreadthorn's School For Wayward Villains because he just doesn't have the knack for real evil (and also because the principal is his father). Possible redemption—with a chance to be promoted from Rogue to Fiend—comes along in the form of an assigned Plot. But despite recruiting a Henchman, kidnapping a princess and fomenting rebellion in a kingdom of his choice, Rune keeps looking like a Hero despite his best efforts. Sanders endows her surly narrator with a colorful cast of allies, such as overachieving vampire classmate Jezebel Dracula ("Mistress Smartyfangs," as Rune calls her), and rivals led by a seemingly innocuous roommate who bakes cookies that scream fetchingly when chewed. Other characters include Muma Padurii, owner of a certain very enticing gingerbread house deep in spooky Forgotten Forest. Characters in place, the author lays out a quest that looks more like a stumbling rush of happy coincidences and culminates in both a startlingly successful Plot and a whirl of revelations about Rune's father and family.Amusing fare for readers who aren't quite up to more sophisticated halfhearted antiheroes like Artemis Fowl or Catherine Jinks' "Evil Genius" Cadel. (Light fantasy. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Gr 3-6--Where do scoundrels and monsters send their children who aren't quite nefarious enough? Why, to Master Dreadthorn's School for Wayward Villains, of course. Among the students: Countess Jezebel Dracula, who prefers hot cocoa to blood. The son of the Big Bad Wolf has been there since he tried to save a drowning child. However, none of the students have it as tough as the son of the headmaster, who feels that he will never be bad enough to please his dad. In a final effort to inspire Rune to the proper depths of lowness, Master Dreadthorn assigns him a Plot: within a week, the boy must kidnap a princess, steal a baby, find a henchman, and overthrow a kingdom. If he succeeds, he graduates from Rogue to Fiend. If he fails, he is exiled forever. Complicating matters is the fact that Mistress Morgana's School for Exemplary Villains will be working to complete their own Plot, aided by Rune's half brother Chad. Stirring up some sibling rivalry, the Dreadmaster has challenged both of his sons to keep the other from completing his mission. Accompanied by Jezebel and Wolf, Rune sets off to discover if he has what it takes to be a real villain. Along the way, he learns that it's not necessarily a bad thing to have a soft side. Happy coincidences throughout keep the story from being an edge-of-your-seat adventure, and students who crave substance and suspense are better directed elsewhere. However, the fast-paced action and snappy dialogue will appeal to reluctant readers and those looking for a light, humorous read.--Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA[Page 170]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.