Book Review, Fiction, Review, Young Adult

Book Review: ‘Spelled’, by Betsy Schow (YA Book)

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Betsy SchowAbout the author: Betsy Schow is the Today Show featured author of the non-fiction book, Finished Being Fat; however she’s been mixing up real life and fantasy for as long as she can remember.   If someone were to ask about her rundown truck, she’s 100% positive that mechanical gremlins muck up her engine. And the only reason her house is dirty is because the dust bunnies have gone on strike. She lives in Utah with her own knight in geeky armor and their two princesses (that can totally shapeshift into little beasts). When not writing, she acts as the Tournament Director for Odyssey of the Mind and helps teach kids creative thinking (or how to turn their toasters into robots).

About the book: All spell is about to break loose in this madcap fairy tale mash-up

Fairy 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.

Spelled by Betsy SchowYeah, 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 not-so-charming 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.

Book Review: In the tradition of the Fairy Tale Reform School series and I’m With Cupid, the paranormal makes not for a distraction but rather for a vehicle to both great storytelling as well as digging into some universal lessons everyone on this planet would be better off knowing. One such lesson is set in the way Dorthea is a spoiled princess. The curse placed on her family ensured that she never left the castle—until the day she makes a wish that pretty much annihilates it, kills off a portion of the guests who were attending a party that happened to be held at that very moment, and did God only knows what to Dorthea’s parents. This scenario creates a safe space within which the author was able to explore how spoiling children and protecting them from outside menaces can severely backfire.

The story is well written and engaging; the fast pace makes it quite the page turner, and the author presents just enough at the right time that we are able to follow within getting either lost or feel drowned. The character development does suffer a little bit because of this, but one can infer a lot from the way they react to the same types of stimuli at the beginning and the end of the story.

I love the way Schow twists things from our world into a fairy tale version of it, such as Dorthea’s Hans Christian Louboutin shoes. Another clue as to the quality of the writing is that despite the fact that Spelled does these types of crossovers into our world at least once a page if not more, it doesn’t come off as over the top. I also loved the lessons that are so artfully and naturally peppered throughout the book, particularly that of good versus evil (a particularly favourite topic of mine).

The only thing that bugged me was the romance—can two people really fall in love that quickly? I know, it’s a fairy tale, but it still bugs me! But other than that, a great story the end of which seems to indicate a sequel is in the making.

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Image courtesy of Magic4Walls

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