Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn

Title: Bewitching
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Rating: 2/5

Cover Impressions:
The cover is pretty, and I like the dark tone and colors but it doesn't really stand out from all the other "pretty girl in a pretty dress" in YA.  If it wasn't for my slight obsession with witches and fairy tale re-tellings, I probably never would have picked up this book.

The Gist:
Bewitching spins together a number of fairy tales as it follows Kendra, a witch who tries to help people but, inevitably, makes things worse. 

I thoroughly enjoy books that re-tell or take a different spin on fairy tales.  This book should have been right up my alley, but there was something about it that just didn't click.  First of all, I wasn't a fan of Kendra (does anyone else think this is an odd name for a character that originated in the 1660s?).  We never really learn anything about her motivations.  The story opens with her escaping a plague ridden town with her brother in tow and being captured by the witch from the Hansel & Gretel story.  This witch teaches Kendra how to control her powers but we see very little of these lessons nor do we learn anything else about the history of that witch or Kendra.  Eventually, the brother disappears - for no apparent reason and we abruptly shift to the Cinderella story of Emma and Lisette. 

In Emma, I see a character that I could enjoy (despite her being ANOTHER YA character who is obsessed with classical novels - puhleese!).  She grew up in a priveledged household, but it ultimately just a lonely little girl.  When her stepfather brings home a daughter Emma never knew about, she hopes to gain a friend and instead finds Lisette to be a mastermind at manipulation.  A few things bothered me: 1) we never find out why Lisette lived in abject poverty while Daddy Warbucks spoiled Emma and her mother 2) the father seems like a decent guy, but while bonding with Lisette he COMPLETELY neglects Emma - FOR YEARS! 

Just as I am getting interested in Emma and Lisette's story, there is yet another interlude while Kendra tells us another story.  The shifts in time and narrator changes made for a very choppy storyline and left me annoyed.  Each time one occurred, I was tempted to put the book down and never pick it up again.  In the end, it felt like the author started this book with a handful of short stories and then concocted a weak storyline in order to link them all together into one book.  Perhaps, if the entire story had been told from Kendra's point of view (or at least switched between just Kendra and Emma) it might have flowed better. 

In the end, I found this novel unsatisfying.  While the novel may be exactly what some readers enjoy (and judging by many of the reviews, it is) it was simply not for me and I do not think I will be continuing with Kendra's story through any subsequent books. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Gender: Females
Sex: Kissing,
Violence: Death by drowning,
Inappropriate Language: Bastard, Slut
Substance Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use


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