Spelled by Betsy Schow
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.
No, not that side. The other side.
In Emerald; where one unlucky Princess of the many generations inhabiting the Emerald Palace will be cursed.
The lucky winner is Dorthea!
Oh man, she is a piece of work. She is selfish, shallow, haughty, childish, spoiled, and useless. She is an embarrassment to her kingdom and doesn’t deserve to be a princess. To put it in one word, she’s a bitch.
Even when everyone is hexed and there is chaos in the ballroom, she cares solely about her fate and is eager to show her parents that the prince is unwed-able. That is until she sees the King and Queen are gone. The only trace of them is the crowns they left behind.
Then when Dorthea has to escape and save herself, do her survival instincts kick in?
“I’m not going to die so you can stuff a few extra jewels down your corset.”
“That would be a dumb place to put . . .” Rexi couldn’t hear me; she was already halfway down the hall— a prime example of why I don’t like to hang out with other people.
Little princess, you got it the wrong way around. People don’t want to hang out with you. You’re self-centered and stupid with no survival skills whatsoever. Again, I repeat: useless. So, dear Dorthea, you can imagine my pleasure when I applauded and hooted for Prince Kato, your mother, and the servant Rexi when they gave you a putdown.
My point is the author did a good job of making me dislike the heroine and still want to root for her later on.
As the story continued, I understood why Dorthea is defiant and disloyal. Her rebellious nature can’t be suppressed due to the curse: “Girl of Emerald, no man can tame. Burn down the world, consumed by flame.” However, on her journey, Dorthea begins to show empathy. Now she must decide her fate since the storytelling rules no longer apply to her world. Stay good? Or go dark side?
With great power comes great responsibility, right?
I really like the opening quotations of every chapter. Some are comical. Some are eye-opening. Some are pitiful.
“All the trouble stemmed from my body image issues. I just couldn’t escape the mirror. It lied; the reflection I saw of myself was horrifying.”
-Wicked Queen, Shatter Reflections.
“Power is a worm that crawls into your heart and eats away your soul. Finally, when there’s nothing left— that’s when the good part starts.”
-Malevolent, Dungeon Confessions
Villains are vulnerable and insecure too, even when they act all high and mighty.
Being a villain is a choice. Not the Storymaker's.
In the world Betsy Schow creates, our childhood fairy tales are tied together and scattered throughout the characters' quest— Wizard of Oz (the obvious), Alice in Wonderland (one of my favorites), Beauty and the Beast, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc. There is even a subtle reference to Frozen, which I caught on immediately, as well as a witty reference to pop culture.
“The first few bars from the Wrong Direction’s hit song ‘My Spell’s What Makes You Beautiful,’ came from somewhere close by.”
While some fairy tales are cleverly woven in and many of the puns are genuinely funny, I feel the book drags on because the author attempts to write as many as she can without giving a care that she’s trying too hard to impress readers. There were times when I was at lost about what was happening.
I’m going to contradict myself: At the same time, it feels like time flew past without anything really happening in the book. I didn’t get a chance to know the characters or enjoy the world building because the characters would swiftly be thrown into another dilemma and jokes would come rolling around the corner.
The characters are weak and there is a lack of solid character development throughout the book.
The only character I truly like is Rexi. (I'm disappointed she isn't mentioned in the synopsis.) Her snide remarks and sensible head saved the book for me. I think I love this girl. Somebody who keeps it real, isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and can be inappropriate.
“So . . . love, huh?”
High up on the ladder, Rexi reached for the jar of newt nuts but couldn’t resist getting in jab. “She’s been hit on the head multiple times and drugged. Her judgment is clearly impaired.”
That’s my girl!
And oh yeah, about that romance. I don't fall for it, even if it is cute.
If you enjoy retellings, if you like Wizard of Oz, if you can overlook a bad heroine because people aren’t perfect, if you can ignore the lack of character development, then Spelled may be for you.
I believe there will be a sequel. Even though I’m not excited about a series, curiosity might drive me to pick up the next possible book, especially if Rexi is the main character.
ARC provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes were taken out of an early ARC and are subjected to change in the final edition.