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I Belong


Review: Beheld by Alex Flinn

BeheldTitle: Beheld

Author: Alex Flinn

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Kendra Chronicles (Book #4)

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 360 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062134558 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062134554 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Tara

Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling YA author Alex Flinn is back with magical twists on four fairy-tale favorites, each featuring a little help from Kendra, the witch from Beastly, as she searches through cities and centuries for her lost love.

Being a powerful witch, Kendra has survived it all. Since she first beheld James over three hundred years ago, Kendra has tangled with witch hunters and wolves, helped a miller’s daughter spin straw into gold, cowered in London as German bombs fell, and lived through who knows how many shipwrecks. But her powers have limits, and immortality can be lonely. Kendra isn’t ready to stop searching for the warlock she had met centuries ago.

With the help of her magic mirror, Kendra will travel the world to reconnect with her lost love—and, of course, she can’t help but play a hand in a few more stories along the way.

Featuring retellings of favorite fairy tales such as Little Red Riding HoodRumpelstiltskinEast of the Sun and West of the Moon, and The Ugly Duckling, Alex Flinn’s latest young adult novel, Beheld, is fresh fairy-tale fun from beginning to end.

Quick & Dirty: An anthology of four fairytales retellings connected by one story arc of a search for lost love.

Opening Sentence: I know that children don’t read fairy tales anymore.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Beheld was a series of fairytale retellings that all feature Kenda, an immortal witch who is searching for her lost love. While Kendra features prominently in the first one, she slowly fades from the book as it progresses, although the stories are nominally tied together by her search for her long-lost love.

The first retelling is that of Little Red Riding Hood. This is the story that features Kendra and James’s meeting. I’m not a fan of insta-love so the fact that they fell in love so quickly was a bit of a disappointment to me. Additionally, Kendra waited two weeks for James after escaping and then spent several hundred years searching for him. These time frames seemed highly disproportionate to me and, while I recognize why they couldn’t be together for the purpose of the story, not realistic given the supposed scope of their love. Other than the romantic aspect, I somewhat enjoyed this story. Flinn took the tale of Little Red Riding Hood and melded it with the Salem Witch hunt to create an intriguing retelling that retained much of the darkness of the original.

Perhaps because the setting in the Rumplestiltskin retelling was similar to the original, it didn’t feel as original. The message the author was attempting to convey came through clearly but it felt too short and underdeveloped for me to truly enjoy it. Even though this one was one of the shortest ones, it took me the longest to read. The third retelling also suffered from being underdeveloped. This one was perhaps the biggest disappointment since I loved the set-up. Placing East of the Sun and West of the Moon in World War II England had such potential. However, the characters weren’t developed enough and the pacing was too fast. Had this one been longer, it would have easily been the best in the book.

The last short story takes up almost a third of the book. After the large role magic played in the first three, this one felt more like a contemporary novel than a fairytale retelling. There is only one instance where Kendra uses magic (or appears at all really) and it is over in just a few short lines. However, this was my favorite short story. It’s a unique retelling of The Ugly Duckling. It was interesting seeing Topher and Amanda grow up together and how their relationship changed over time. This tale was definitely adorable, but it didn’t quite fit in with the darker tone of the other stories.

If you’ve enjoyed Alex Flinn’s previous books and liked Kendra as a character, you will probably enjoy Beheld. However, it doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of an overarching arc involving Kendra and James, since their story never comes to the forefront. The stories were of extremely variable quality and I wasn’t quite able to connect with any of the characters.

Notable Scene:

He kissed me.

Finally, he stopped.

“I have been wanting to do that since I first laid eyes upon you.”

I laughed. “Why?”

“You are lovely. Is that not reason enough?”

I shook my head, no, for I knew there was more, and I wanted to hear it.

“No, then. I wanted to kiss you for we are the same. We are alike, clever and full of mischief, and have been through the same things and will be through the same experiences. We have both lost everything yet lived on. And on. And because you are beautiful.”

“Better.” I struggled to my feet. I wanted him to kiss me again, but it was probably not fitting to allow him to kiss me on the ground, especially in those deserted woods.

He pulled me toward him. “But you must leave Salem, Kendra.”

Kendra Chronicles:

1. Beastly

2. Bewitching

3. Mirrored

4. Beheld

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FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Beheld. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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