2-in-1 review: “Bewitching” by Alex Flinn & “Fairy Lies” by E.D. Baker

The front cover of "Bewitching"Bewitching is…bewitching.  Okay, okay…it’s very unusual.  For one thing, Alex Flinn’s writing style and her aptitude for reading the young adult mind are always a pleasure to sample.  And as I was delighted with her other fairy tale retellings, I already anticipated that Bewitching would be special.  And it is.

For one thing, I’ve never seen the popular Cinderella turned 360 degrees around before, where the “heroine” is simply a conniving brat who makes use of her looks, while the “evil stepsister” is a shy bookworm who only tries to befriend her.  Flinn doesn’t disappoint with the originality of her narrative or the way this time she connects history to her fairy tales.  Kendra, the “villain” from Beastly, is back.  And from active participation in a personalized Hansel and Gretel situation to a historical re-imagining of The Princess and the Pea and tying the Titanic disaster to The Little Mermaid, Bewitching is not only contemplative, perceptive, caustic…but also very entertaining.  I really liked Emma’s character, which reminded a bit of Lindy from Beastly.  But I can relate to Emma more, somehow.  Her doubts about her looks, her deep love for literature (the classics preference was extraordinary), her lack of friends, her desire to be understood, the way no one believes her or the truth about Lisette.  And the twist at the end of Bewitching, when a modern “Prince Charming” makes an unexpected choice…well, I was grinning from ear to ear.  Kendra is an interesting narrator, and her wit contributes to the overall enjoyability of the novel.  The modern setting never interferes with Kendra’s flashbacks to her past, although I was getting caught up in nerve-biting suspense in regards to Emma’s part of the novel.  Was this a good (and very romantic) fairy tale retelling (or should I say, several)?  Will I remember this book fondly?  There can only be one answer to both questions: Oui! 😉 

 The newly renamed Fairy Wings (formerly Wings) was not my favorite by E.D. Baker, but I still enjoyed her take on Shakespeare and, of course, her interpretation of fantasy.  After the happy romantic ending in Fairy Wings, I was very surprised by Tamisin’s withdrawal from her relationship with the handsome Jak at the very beginning of Fairy Lies.  And she is kidnapped by Oberon, a fairy character I was excited to see E.D. Baker introduce.  I’ve read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but Baker’s world with the fey is more fluid and less awkward to understand.  I particularly was satisfied by all the new magical creatures in the story, like the mysterious sphinxes originating from Greek mythology and the mermaids.  However, Baker limits how many new characters  she brings to Fairy Lies; she concentrates more on expanding her tale’s horizons, a technique I recognize from her Tales of the Frog Princess series (one of my favorites!).  Like its prequel, Fairy Lies has a tense environment and another quest: Tamisin’s need to have closure with her mother, the fairy queen Titania, and discover where she belongs regardless of parentage.  In Fairy Wings, Tamisin was merely on an identity search.  In Fairy Lies, she has to go on an identity “warpath,” so to speak.  Her memory is stolen, she’s enchanted into loving another man, and she doesn’t know who her real father is, not to mention that she’s unsure whom to trust in the land of the fey.  Baker’s warm and enveloping storytelling, and her unique sense of humor, is what made me become such an enthusiastic fan of her work to begin with.  Fairy Lies was…an enchanting sequel.

Conclusion: I’m definitely looking forward to more writing by two of my favorite authors. 🙂

Natalie Gorna

3 thoughts on “2-in-1 review: “Bewitching” by Alex Flinn & “Fairy Lies” by E.D. Baker

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