I received this e-Arc from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 6/2/15
~ As the Crown Princess of Emerald, Dorthea has everything she could possibly want; including Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. Everything that is except for her freedom. When her parents try to force her into marriage with the unlikable Prince Kato, Dot rebels and makes an ill-fated wish that leaves her world in shambles. Now it’s up to her to make things right, all while avoiding the wicked witch who set things in motion and now wants to kill Dot.
Talk about unhappily ever after!
~ “Girl of Emerald, no man can tame. Burn down the world, consumed by flame” ~
Once again I picked a book purely based one the cover. Yes, this is a weakness of mine despite being burned in the past. Thankfully, overall, I enjoyed Spelled. Phew!
In the beginning 16-year-old Dorthea, or “Dot” is a complete spoiled brat, and it’s difficult to have any sympathy for her, despite her being trapped in her palace due to a curse hanging over her family’s heads. However, she evolves from pampered princess to strong, capable heroine and it’s quite fun to watch her transformation. With the kingdom in shambles after her ill-fated wish, Dot is the only one who can make things right. She’s accompanied on her journey by Prince Kato, much to her displeasure. It is definitely not love at first sight for these two! Kato is perfect though for the self-involved princess, and throws some much-needed cold water in her face, figuratively speaking. Kato’s been turned into a rather cuddly chimera thanks to the wish and this makes things even more interesting. While they start out disliking each other, as they embark on their quest, they actually bring out the best in each other. Their romance develops slowly and takes a back seat to the action much of the time, but that’s just fine. Also along for the ride is Rexi, a snarky servant who has no sympathy for Dot, and ha s some of the best lines in the book. She also winds up being Dot’s first friend which is sad, yet touching. When the curse kicks in, Dot becomes much more empathetic as she struggles with using her new powers. She’s terrified of becoming evil like the Gray Witch who has set these events in motion, and is now doing everything she can to kill Dot, including sending her demon puppies after her. Wait…what? Yep! You read correctly. There are evil golden retriever puppies that fly and pee acid. They’re still adorable though.
Unfortunately, this brings me to what I found problematic with the story. While the fairytale mash-up is cute and borrows from everything, including; The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, and even the tv show Once Upon A Time, the cleverness actually winds up being a little distracting. The same goes for all the puns. I felt the same way when I saw Shrek. By the time I was halfway through, I found myself rolling my eyes instead of laughing. However, as a first book in a new series, I think this shows a lot of potential. Hopefully in the next one Betsy Schow will lavish more attention to this marvelous new world she’s created and it’s intriguing characters, and not so much on cute one-liners.