Review: The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin

Spooky twists and soaring prose make this foodie update on Hansel and Gretel an unforgettable must-read.

Lorelei is bowled over by Splendid Academy–Principal Trapp encourages the students to run in the hallways, the classrooms are stocked with candy dishes, and the cafeteria serves lavish meals featuring all Lorelei’s favorite foods. But the more time she spends at school, the more suspicious she becomes. Why are her classmates growing so chubby? And why do the teachers seem so sinister?

It’s up to Lorelei and her new friend Andrew to figure out what secret this supposedly splendid school is hiding. What they discover chills their bones–and might even pick them clean!

Mix one part magic, one part mystery, and just a dash of Grimm, and you’ve got the recipe for a cozy-creepy read that kids will gobble up like candy.

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Nikki Loftin’s The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is a deliciously creepy middle grade novel. Imparting lessons about friendship, eating well, and believing in yourself, Loftin’s debut is sure to find fans among young and old readers alike.

I especially enjoyed the bits of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy that were creepy and bore a strong resemblance to Roald Dahl’s novels. In fact, this novel feels very much like an updated version of Dahl’s novels The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Readers who like these types of novels will definitely enjoy Loftin’s style as well!

Lorelei is a wonderful main character; she’s caring, curious, and believes in herself. I was so happy to see her befriend Andrew, a boy who isn’t always so sure of himself. Not only did they make a great team, they provided a fantastic example of the benefits of looking beyond outside and initial appearances to the person within.

The novel is packed with magic and mystery, making it more fantastical than realistic, but it still leaves readers with an important message about eating well and being healthy. In the real world, there (probably) isn’t a witch who’s trying to fatten you up so you make a better meal, but they are still definite negative consequences to bad eating habits and lack of exercise and The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is the perfect novel to start this discussion with young readers.

Razorbill, August 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781595145086, 304 pgs.

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