Review: Spelled by Betsy Schow

A retelling of ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Spelled’ by Betsy Schow follows Princess Dorothea, the Emerald Princess who is cursed so that should she ever step outside the palace and come into contact with fire, the world would burn.

This presents a minor problem when, after rewriting the fabric of story magic and plunging the world into chaos, Dorothea finds herself having to embark on a quest to undo her wish and bring order back to the world. Not to mention, she is being hunted by an evil witch and her companions are a thieving serving girl and a prince, now turned into a tiny creature that cannot talk.

This book is a lot of fun. Aimed at a younger audience, it does not take itself too seriously, instead it is filled with a lot of random, entertaining and magical events that still manage to come together to create a believably world made up of story characters.

The development of the world, from a single palace to multiple kingdoms, mirrors the development of the main character herself. Starting of as an unlikable, selfish, spoiled princess whose shallowness is the only trait she seems to possess, Dorothea is nearly unrecognisable by the end of the book – growing to become the princess she was born to be.

The other characters, while not going through the same extent of development as Dorothea, still grow as the story progresses and I found myself liking all of them, even the villains. Kato and Hydra were two of my particular favourites. Even their interactions worked. The core three heroes really came together and I found myself thinking how fun it would be to be a part of their group.

I will admit, however, that the style of writing takes a lot of getting used to. I really struggled to get into the book simply because it came across as very over-the-top. The language altered to suit the audience and the world, for instance changing a certain swear word to ‘pixing’ and naming shoe brands after fairy-tale writers. I am still not sure whether I got used to the excessive fairy-tale altered language, or whether after the first few chapters it died down.

For all the fairy-tale lovers out there, there was a lot of references, name-dropping and parallels to other fairy-tales. I really enjoyed these as it expanded the world this book was set in. However, there were a lot of them. I do wonder, if I were reading this as someone who does not know much about fairy-tales, whether they might be a bit much and just take away from the story.

All in all, ‘Spelled’ was just an entertaining book. It is not one to be taken too seriously. Anyone who enjoys fairy-tales will enjoy this book – it has adventure, it has magic, true love and, to top it off, is completely crazy.

Rating: 4/5


The Book Depository:

I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley.


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