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I Belong

Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn

Title: Bewitching

Author: Alex Flinn

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: Kendra Chronicles (Book 1)

Publication Date: February 14, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062024159 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13:  9780062024152 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed byEmmy


Bewitching can be a beast. . . .

Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.

I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.

You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.

I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.

Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start . . . bewitching.

Quick & Dirty: This first installment of the Kendra Chronicles has some interesting, if unsatisfying, retellings of classic fairy tales.

Opening Sentence: If you read fairy tales, and who doesn’t, you might believe there are witches all over the place–witches baking children into gingerbread, making princesses sleep for hundreds of years, even turning normal boys into hideous beasts to teach them a lesson.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Mis-marketing might be the biggest problem with this book.  After reading the synopsis you might think this story is going to be about Kendra, the badass witch we’ve met in Alex Flinn’s other books.  After the first 45 pages, it’s not.  It becomes a montage of Kendra’s other curses and spells gone wrong. Some of them are pretty funny, if not clever, but with the exception of Lisette and Emma’s story nothing was very engaging.  We weren’t given enough time to like the characters, much less care about them.  I think the series is supposed to be more about Kendra’s life, with little snippets provided in each book.  Personally, I don’t like it. I don’t really like Kendra in this, and though it’s supposedly her story, she’s not the main character.  After the short story about her beginnings as a witch at the start of the story, we really only get paragraphs from her perspective.

Hansel and Gretel transforms into Kendra’s own story, but other’s featured are Little Mermaid, Princess and the Pea, and most prominently Cinderella. Lisette and Emma’s Cinderella story is broken up between Kendra’s retelling of her other fairy tale mishaps.  Except here, Kendra epically fails at playing fairy godmother–to Emma, the step-sister.  Both girls are in high school, and Emma’s lived with her step-father since she was three.  Lisette’s mother just died, and her father takes her in.  He’s really sweet, loves Emma like she was his own, but is very excited to have Lisette living with them.  Emma’s excited to–at first.  She’s always wanted a sister, she’s never really had a best friend. Emma is a great narrator for this upside-down fairy tale.  She’s quirky, loving, wants to see the best in people, and she’s really smart.

Kendra, on the other hand, is not a character you end up feeling sympathetic towards, though Flinn certainly tried. She’s just a snarky centuries old witch who chooses to relive high school and meddle in other people’s lives–no matter how horrendously her previous exploits have gone.   She’s funny and insightful, but she’s also vengeful and a little stupid–not a good combination.  But as I said, she’s not the main character; she’s just retelling all her exploits to the reader.

The conversation of this book really kept it moving for me, because honestly everything else was a little blah or rage inducing.  The blah factor comes in because we don’t get a chance to like the characters. I really liked Beastly, Flinn’s Beauty and the Beast book, and would probably have liked her retellings of these stories if they had been less two-dimensional, if she had more pages to develop the characters.  The Little Mermaid retelling happens post-Titanic sinking chaos, which was so cool, until she reached the end of Doria’s story and I wanted to strangle something or someone.  There was nothing technically wrong with it, which my grammar-oriented self appreciated greatly.  It’s the narrative format that makes it easy to read, and I did like Emma a lot because she sounded like the kind of girl I’d have been friends with in high school.

This brings me to how this book made me feel, which was horrendous. The theme throughout the novel was “If you don’t have a boy, your life isn’t worth anything.” I wish I could say I was exaggerating.  The only character who isn’t portrayed as pathetic without a boyfriend is Kendra–who is described as pathetically lonely.  So while this book fulfills the characteristics of a romance, it is horrendously degrading to teenage girls.  It was a really easy read, and it was a relatively short book, but even the fairy tale aspect–which I usually adore–isn’t enough to make me recommend this book.

Notable Scene:

“…here on Friday,” Dad was saying.

“Wait? What, again?”

“She’s coming here on Friday.”

“Coming? To visit?” No wonder Mother had been freaking out.  She wasn’t big on things that weren’t all about her.

“No. To live. Aren’t you listening, Emma?  Her mother passed away, and Lisette is coming here.  You should get along great. She’s exactly your age.”

The chocolate ice cream fell from my open mouth and onto the front of my BDGB dress.  I glanced down at the huge splotch, then at Dad, then at Warner.

Of course, everyone was looking right at me.

This Kendra Chronicles Series:

1. Bewitching

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

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Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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One Response to “Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn

  1. Midnyte ReaderNo Gravatar

    Very interesting review. It’s unfortunate that you couldn’t connect with the characters – that makes it like someone is just telling a story second hand. The message that you got about the boyfriend thing…that is unfortunate as well.

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