Monday, March 13, 2017
Spelled by Betsy Schow
While not the best book I've ever read, I will admit there's something almost kind of refreshing about this thing. It's the kind of thing that's nice to read on a whim, simple and quick and definitely amusing. In a day and age when fairy tale stories are taking themselves unbearably seriously, this one kind of breaks the tension and comes out as its own thing to stand out amongst the fairy tale genre.
The story is that of Princess Dorothea of the land of Emerald. She's upset because being a princess is deeply annoying to her, especially on her birthday when she finds out she's been engaged to a snooty prince. In an attempt to ditch her fate, Dorothea makes a wish on a cursed star, which warps her desire and tears her world apart, sent mobs of evil beings into her kingdom and turned her fiancé into and adorable winged lion cub. Now Dorothea must right the wrongs she's committed on her own and march across the untamed fairy tale lands with her transformed prince and a pissed off servant, all while wearing ridiculous heels worthy of Bryce Dallas Howard via Jurassic World.
The biggest obstacle for most people in this book is the character of Dorothea. She is deeply, deeply annoying when this book starts out. Selfish, spoiled, pampered and entitled, she's the kind of character who feels all she has to do is sit down and wait to be assisted simply because she's a princess. However, amazingly, I didn't mind this very much. Probably because, unlike many other characters I've read with these kinds of traits it's intentional! She's meant to be this way. The world isn't insisting that, "oh, she's actually a really kind and special and talented and super amazing person you just don't understand her". No. Dorothea is spoiled on purpose and her journey throughout the story is one of redemption and growth. Dorothea learns some bitter lessons (some strictly for the amusement of the readers) and she does learn them. She slowly reshapes herself and the trials she goes through has a genuine impact on her life and personality. For that reason, I didn't mind Dorothea.
The book is a pretty simple read and has a lot of sardonic humor to it. It never really takes itself either too silly or too serious. There's a nice balance in this book. The humor is pretty good in this thing too. While most if it is making fun of its own main character, there is a lot of fairy tale satire going on and destroying old stereotypes while taking time to develop its own mythos and build its own world. It gives this world a bit of perspective that's not exactly unlike anything we've seen before, it's still pretty solid for what it is.
The side characters are a very sassy bunch. Nobody in this world gives into Dorothea's whining and complaining. They force her to grow up and accept responsibilities, while never coming off as too cruel or out of line. Rexi and Kato are just the kind of characters who will put up with Dorothea's antics and not take any of her crap. Also, blessedly, Dorothea and Kato's relationship develops very naturally. Even by the end of the book, they're not totally in love or anything. They learn a lot about each other and it's handled slowly and with great care. However, the book is not flawless. Dorothea, while I appreciate what she is, does really get on one's nerves, the foreshadowing is heavy as a rhino and it's not exactly full to bursting with originality, but for what it is, it's pretty good.
I feel this book has kind of a bad reputation that I don't really feel it deserves. It was certainly fun to read, easy to get through and understand, and it clearly had fun with itself as well, so it's pretty easy to get pulled in. Overall, I'm going to say that if this sounds like your cup of tea, check it out but wait for it on paperback.
Did you read the book? Comment below and share your thoughts and any recommendations you may have. Find me on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer
Next Time: ....I don't think I like James Patterson very much....