Villain School: Good Curses Evil

Villain School - Good Curses EvilVillain School: Good Curses Evil is an amusing book about three young villains who attend Master Dreadthorn’s School for Wayward Villains because they just aren’t quite evil enough. Countess Jezebel—Dracula’s daughter—prefers chocolate to blood. As a youngster, Big Bad Wolf Jr. saved a human child from drowning. Rune Drexler is our protagonist, and also the underachieving son of Master Dreadthorn.

Rune has one last chance to prove himself—his father arranges for him to have a plot (what would probably be called a quest if it were heroic); if he succeeds, he advances to the next year. If he fails, he’s thrown out of school. Rune’s goals are to find a henchman, steal a baby, kidnap a princess, and overthrow a kingdom—you know, typical villain stuff.

Rune ends up going head to head with Chad, his roommate who also turns out to be his half brother. Chad is joined by two vampires from Morgana’s rival school for villains—villains who have no trouble being evil.

Rune succeeds in his plot, but along the way he ends up seeming more heroic than villainous. Finding a henchman, stealing a baby, and kidnapping a princess all end up being rescues, and in overthrowing the kingdom, he deposes a pretender to the throne.

I have some mild concerns with it (detailed below) but overall I thought it was fun. My 10 year old son is reading it and enjoying it.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid

Kids Doing Bad Stuff

These are villains in training. To behave themselves, they need to insult each other, betray their friends, and all the other things you tell your own kids not to do. But Rune frequently reminds us that they are in fact villains so no one takes it personally. And it’s not actually easy for them to be awful to each other. In fact, when they try to be terrible, they usually fail.

Bad things happen in theory—Chad’s mom likes to eat kids, for instance—but it’s all offscreen and often only told in stories.

The snotty vampires get tortured by pixies, and Rune and his friends don’t rescue them. Of course, those vamps were trying to get rid of Rune and his friends, and Rune and his friends are in fact villains who aren’t supposed to rescue anyone.


The premise of the book is that these villains don’t fit the stereotypes of villains. Things are seldom what they seem—you need to look beyond your initial expectations and assumptions.

Girls are smart, clever, and capable. However, they’re also very jealous and don’t work together well. I hope that in the sequel Jezebel and Ileana move beyond petty rivalry.

Chad bakes cookies, which isn’t terribly evil. He’s learning to make cookies that scream or bleed when you eat them, because, you know, villain. It also turns out that behind that cookie-baking, blue-eyed, tow-headed exterior, he’s actually quite the schemer.

The henchman Rune finds is a capcaun—usually a vicious monster. But this one is sweet and funny and has a huge soft spot for the magic baby they find. This is a good thing, because Rune, Jezebel, and Big Bad Wolf Jr have no idea how to care for a baby!


Dads are demanding and not very affectionate. The kids struggle to get any kind of positive attention from their fathers—usually they’re just reminded of how disappointing they are. (The Big Bad Wolf is an exception to this—he’s kind of goofily proud of his son.) At the end of the book, you start to see into Master Dreadthorn’s motives, and he does seem to see potential in Rune, but he’s still hard to deal with—handing out punishments instead of praise.

Mothers, for the most part, are evil (like the one who eats children) or missing.

Being part of an evil family tends to bring you more grief than love and support.

Sex & Romance

Rune and Jezebel are definitely noticing each other, although they don’t do anything about it. Jezebel gets jealous of other girls—particularly Princess Ileana, who becomes friends with Rune. Rune finds himself confused and blushing somewhat often.

There’s a whole soap opera plot in the past of the older generation, and it’s slightly icky if you really think about (I doubt most kids will, though). Rune’s father (Veldin) and Ileana’s mother (Catalina) met and fell in love when they were in villain school. They secretly got married (so I guess they were, at most, 18? Definitely still in school). Chad’s mother (Padurii), who was in love with Rune’s father, made herself look like Catalina so she could trick Veldin. And later Chad was born. Catalina’s father found out she was actually at villain school instead of finishing school like her mother had told him, and he made Catalina come home and marry a king. So, yeah. All kinds of messed up, but you have to read between the lines to grasp all the implications.


As long as you’re pretty sure your kid won’t be weirded out by the soap opera plot (easier to put into context for those of us already familiar with the legend of King Arthur), this is an amusing book. The twist of villains trying hard to be evil is funny and the somewhat complex story comes together well in the end as the pieces start to fit together.

This is a great book for reluctant readers, because it’s not a difficult read but Rune is very much an early teenager. Many readers will identify with his burgeoning crush, his awkward relationship with his father, his need to prove his worth, his problems fitting in at school, and his struggles with academics.

Villain School: Good Curses Evil by Stephanie S. Sanders
Published in 2011 by Bloomsbury
First in a series (next book is Villain School: Hero in Disguise)
Read on my Kindle

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