ARC Review: Spelled – Betsy Schow

Spelled – Betsy Schow

cover58454-mediumFairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

Release Date: June 2nd, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

love fractured/retellings of fairy tales so I was pretty stoked when my request for this was approved (it was also the first time I had ever requested anything on NetGalley, so I guess it was beginner’s luck?).

What I liked:

-the fairy tale puns and allusions. I love a good pun, and I found the “swear words” hilarious – what the spell/I’m so pixed/fairy-loving, etc. Amazing! Also, the advice/life lessons/excerpts from other fairy-tale authors that started each chapter was a whimsical touch.

Plus the appearance of other characters, Hydra’s ability to change heads, the different realms – the world-building in this book was fantastic, though it helps that a lot of people would already be familiar with a lot of the source material.

It sort of reminded me of Ever After High, to be honest. But since I’m fascinated by the Ever After High world/characters, I enjoyed it!

-Rexi. Rexi is the servant girl who ends up being Dorothea’s sidekick/adventuring partner. She was sarcastic and funny, and even if she did have her bad moments, she more than made up for them.

I’ll also admit that I was sort of hoping for a Dorothea-Rexi relationship, but that wasn’t the case.

-there’s no insta-love between Dorothea and Kato. In fact, they have an Elizabeth Bennet/Mr. Darcy vibe at first (except not as epic): they start off fueled by hate, but eventually learn to accept each other. I didn’t feel their relationship right away, but it grew on me and ended up being a lot cuter than I expected.

-the ending. I didn’t think this was the first book in a series, but I felt like the ending both wrapped everything up and left it open enough for a possible (probable?) sequel.

-Dorothea started off as a spoiled (literal) princess, but she gradually developed into a flawed but generally likeable heroine.

Which leads me to

What I didn’t like:

-it was hard to sympathize with Dorothea at the beginning, because she’s so spoiled. But she grows and matures and eventually you can’t help rooting for her. HOWEVER, there are several times when she resists using her powers because she’s scared they’ll tip her over to the “dark side”, and I was like…DO IT. Let loose and wreck havoc and destroy everything! Don’t be a traditional heroine, be badass and tough and take control of your own destiny (which she does, but not in the chaotic way I hoped).

-I felt like this book took forever to finish. Maybe I had way too many things going on this past week, but it almost felt like a chore to finish (like I said, that was probably just me).

-while it’s listed as YA, it felt like the younger end of the YA spectrum (I guess 12-14? Right on the cusp between middle grade and young adult). That’s not a bad thing, but Dorothea tended to sound younger that she is, most likely as a result of her spoiled upbringing, which could annoy some “older” YA readers.

Rating:

3 interrobangs

3.5 interrobangs

The Fairest of Them All – Carolyn Turgeon

A few weeks ago, when the big Chapters was closing, Ro and I went and managed to buy 7-8 books each. One of them was something that Ro had wanted to read, but, upon looking at the synopsis, we decided the The Fairest of Them All was a “Sam” book.

“In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.

In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.

Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.

The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?”

Have I mentioned before that I absolutely love mixed-up fairy tales? I mean, one of my most favourite books of all time is a re-telling of Cinderella (Ella Enchanted, in case you were wondering). So when I found out that this combined TWO fairy tales, I was completely sold.

I loved the way the two tales were intertwined. It wasn’t a shock, since I had read the back of the book, but it was still fascinating to see Rapunzel’s journey from the naive girl  in the forest tower into Snow White’s evil stepmother.

I guess I can’t really talk too much about it without spoiling most of the plot, but the spin on the seven dwarves was a little creepy but well-done. I might have picked up on it sooner if I had been reading “closely”, but either way, it was an unexpected direction. There was also a twist revealed in the last quarter that I couldn’t figure out if I liked it (I had been analyzing the situation in a totally different way) or if it was clichéd.

When I finished reading it, I wasn’t sure how I felt. On the one hand, I felt like it could have gone the opposite way and been a horrifying yet interesting look at the psychology behind the evil-stepmother trope or the corruption of a formerly good-natured person or something like that. But on the other hand, it was a fairy tale so it had to have a happy ending. In that respect, it did not disappoint.