In this edition of The Figment Review, Figment user Samantha Bagood reviews Bewitching by Alex Flinn–a revamped tour through the canon of the Brothers Grimm.
I love fairy tales retold, and I devoured them growing up. But I’ve never read any of Alex Flinn’s retold fairy tales—no, not even Beastly. I haven’t even seen the film adaptation starring Vanessa Hudgens. In fact, the only book I’ve read by Flinn is a contemporary fiction novel, Breathing Underwater, which I liked a lot. But after reading Bewitching, I regret the years I spent without her retellings; Alex Flinn and fairy tales mix really well.
Bewitching opens with Kendra, a witch with a kind heart whose efforts at helpfulness tend to backfire. She demonstrates immediately, pulling readers into familiar tales like Hansel and Gretel and The Princess and the Pea—and figuring out which story is being told is as fun as reading them. These historical interludes are interspersed with a modern story: that of Emma and her stepsister Lisette.
I know what you’re thinking (Cinderella!) and you’re right. But not in the way you expect. We don’t just see a refreshing take on Cinderella and her stepsisters; we wonder who they really are and question the roles they play. Maybe, just maybe, the stepsister isn’t as bad we like to think. (And maybe Prince Charming isn’t really who we think he is.)
The best part of Bewitching is the characters. The gingerbread children, Kendra, Emma—every character, even the ones we don’t like or thought we wouldn’t like–come alive with his own story. Each has a great, unexpected fairy tale of his or her own, even if the endings aren’t always happily ever after. Most amazing of all, each character has a distinct, genuine voice.
Bewitching isn’t just another nerd-versus-popular-crowd story. It’s not even about a geeky chick who drops her books to make a drop dead gorgeous transformation. It’s a bit realer, and at the same time more fantastical. Through different time periods and narrations, Alex Flinn weaves a story every bit as magical as a fairy tale. I give Bewitching a full five stars. Now go and read it!
Samantha Bagood is a freelance writer and designer and a student at Appalachian State University. She is currently writing her first novel.