|Love fairy tales and mythology?|
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!
Princess Dorthea has never left her palace--and with good reason. There's a curse on her family:
"Girl of Emerald, no man can tame. Burn down the world, consumed by flames."
Dorthea is upset because, seriously, what are the chances that she could be the girl in the curse? She wants to get out. When her parents offer her hand in marriage to the vexing Prince Kato, she decides she'd rather take her chances with the curse than spend one minute married to him. She wishes on a star, not knowing that it's cursed, and her selfish wish destroys her entire kingdom. Now, there is only Kato and a servant girl named Rexi to guide her on a journey to figure out how to reverse her wish, save her kingdom, and escape the evil Gray Witch determined to see to her destruction.
SPELLED by Betsy Schow sounded super cute when I first heard about it, and I'm always up for a good retelling! There are so many fun things in SPELLED. From the beginning, I was engaged because of all the clever fairy tale references. I mean, Hans Christian Louboutin slippers, Glenda original gowns, social media apps such as Flitter, and quirky sayings like "Are you blinder than all three mice?" I was hooked! And the chapter headings were all so clever. I couldn't wait to see each new title: "When You Hex Upon a Star," "A Nightmare Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," "If I Only Had a Head," "The Haunted Acre Wood." These are but a few of the 36 titles present in the novel. Each chapter also begins with a quote or statement from handguides, magazines, etc., and hint at things to come in the new chapter. I loved it all! These are the elements that kept me engaged and wanting to turn pages. It was all just so clever.
SPELLED is being billed as a clean alternative to DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige, and I've got to say, I'd agree. I'm a little surprised this book is being published by Sourcebooks Fire and not Sourcebooks Jabberwocky because it has a very middle-grade feel to it. It reminds me of middle grade novels such as THE 13TH SIGN by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb and FLUNKED: FAIRY TALE REFORM SCHOOL by Jen Calonita (Which ironically WAS published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky). It's one of those books where the adventure is so full that readers constantly go from one event straight into the next and then the next and then the next. All three of these books are very similar in that vein. For me, such consistent action makes me start to lose focus because there isn't as much character development and action happening. It feels like when, growing up, I'd watch animated TV shows and there would be all these battle scenes and so little "normal stuff." The "normal stuff" was always my favorite part and I couldn't wait to get to the beginning/end of an episode and would wish I could cut out the middle. That said, I was a weird kid. A lot of kids LOVE that jam-packed action. I think SPELLED will appeal to many such readers. It's just not a style I personally love.
Because of all the consistent action, I'll admit that at time, I did some skim-reading or flipping forward, but one thing I enjoyed was seeing the way Dorthea didn't CHANGE as a person, but still GREW. In so many books, a character's flaws are nipped in the bud and by the end of the book, they've grown and evolved so much. In Dorthea's case, her flaws help her to grow and her positive aspects start to shine as some of the attitude falls off. Her characterization is well-done, and I like the way Schow uses small changes to create a better person while still retaining so much of that original character. You don't see this kind of characterization often, and I really enjoyed Dorthea's evolution. This is also the first book in at least a duology, if not a series, so know that it's not a stand-alone and there will be more books to chronicle Dorthea's changes even further.
SPELLED is definitely a book that's for some readers and not others. I know readers who adore it, as well as some who started to lose interest. I think that, in the right hands, SPELLED can be a fantastic, engaging, hilarious read. It's full of fairy tale influences and inside jokes and had everything I wanted in a book. It just wasn't stylistically for me, and that's okay, too, especially since there were elements that I enjoyed a lot. It won't be for everyone, but it will be fantastic for many people, especially kids and tweens!
Now, take a peek at this excerpt: