- ‘‘ True Evil means accepting Good as your equal. ’’
- —Leonora Lesso
Lady Leonora Lesso was the former Dean of the School for Evil. She was a defining character in the series as Sophie's mentor. Her best friend is the Dean of the School for Good, Clarissa Dovey. In the third book, it was revealed that her first name is Leonora.
Lady Lesso is an intricate character. Although she appears intimidating and isolated, she can be kind and compassionate. Her actions, from secretly visiting her son for five years to breaking the terms of the Trial by Tale, betray her courage and kind heart, though she prefers to maintain a cold facade because of her tough past.
Little is known of Lady Lesso's past. She became a teacher fifteen years before the events of The Last Ever After. At the time, she'd already hidden her son in a cave near the School. Eventually, she rose to the position of Dean. After five years, Evelyn Sader arrived and revealed Leonora's son to the School Master. Sader was then evicted for committing crimes against students and Leonora was forbidden to see her son, an event that caused devastating consequences: her own death at the hands of her son, Aric. She lived in Netherwood.
None of Leonora's family members were mentioned in the books except for her son, Aric. She raised him for a some time outside of the School and visited him regularly for about five years. However, the School Master suspended her privileges to leave School grounds, forcing her to abandon him. From that point on, Aric developed an obsessive hatred towards his mother.
He made a few appearances in A World Without Princes, and Lady Lesso mentions that Aric tried to kill her in the end-chaos of Trial by Tale. During the events depicted in The Last Ever After, he was Dean of the School for New Evil, while his mother was Dean of the School for Old Evil. He repeatedly attempted to kill her, be it poisoning her coffee or placing an asp in her toilet.
During the final battle in Book Three, Aric took this chance to attack Lady Lesso. He delivered a fatal wound before being stabbed in the back with a broken stymph bone by Professor Dovey.
Lady Lesso's Husband
It is said in the Never Ever Handbook that Aric's father was seen just outside the gates of the School For Good and Evil. He was extremely muscular with dark eyes that held "fiery madness." It is mentioned that Lady Lesso turned pale when this encounter was brought up.
Clarissa Dovey is Dean for the School for Good and is Lady Lesso's best friend. Lady Lesso explains to Sophie that Dean Dovey is, for her, what Agatha is to Sophie: her "true love." Sophie tries to dismiss this notion but eventually comes to accept the idea that this is part of the balance that both sides need to maintain. Lady Lesso's last words were to Dovey. Though uncomfirmed, many fans believe that Lady Lesso was a lesbian.
When Sophie arrives at the School for Evil, she does not want to accept Lady Lesso's assurances that she, Sophie, belongs with Evil. Nevertheless, Lady Lesso's beauty and sense of fashion helped Sophie attempt to move beyond the restrictions of sack uniforms and awful food which the Nevers are given. After Lady Lesso's death, Sophie finds a large box in Lady Lesso's office with a gift for her. When she opens the box, she discovers that Lady Lesso wishes for Sophie to become the new Dean for Evil in her place. She considers Sophie to be like her daughter.
- Many readers of the series suspected that Lady Lesso's son was Aric due to clues in A World Without Princes. This was later confirmed in Book Three.
- The name Leonora means "compassion and light," which is ironic for the Dean of Evil.
- Sophie and Lady Lesso share many similarities. They both have "good bone structure," a "love for high heels," "a vanity uncommon in Nevers," and "are great witches when provoked."
- Her last words were "My name is Leonora."