Bewitching by Alex Flinn

About the book:
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Fiction, Teen, Fantasy

The Story: Meet Kendra. This is her story. If we think we have it bad – try living in her world. In Bewitching, her escapades are told of what life as a witch is like. Always trying to help people often backfires on the eccentric Kendra but still she tries to make a better world for unsuspecting people in need – weather it is a princely snob or a young girl trying to do battle with her teenage step-sister in the 21st century, she is always vetting potential “projects.”  After all, a beast of a curse on a popular dude who stomped on everyone’s feelings was just one of her curses.

My Thoughts: An introduction to this author did not come about until one of her novels was turned into a major motion picture early last year – that was what caught my attentions. This NY Times bestselling author swept me into her version of Beauty and the Beast with the novel,Beastly. Best known for writing fairy-tales “updated” into our modern world and culture, Alex’s novels, I’ve found to be quite entertaining.Who remembers Kendra as a supporting character in Beastly, and the person who places a curse on the hero, Kyle? When I first learned that Kendra was to have her own story, I was thrilled – I probably nearly screamed with joy at the mere prospect of it! Now that the wait is over, I’ve found myself both skeptical and intrigued when picking up Bewitching. Some fans thought Kendra possessed “something” that made her… cool. I did not see that. I didn’t dislike her in the feature film but reading how Flinn (I saw the movie prior to reading the book) intended her character to be opened all sorts of new “possibilities” about this character for me. She was so much more approachable, and her own novel only reinforces that notion. It is told in the first-person which again, is not my favorite method of story-telling but aside from that, there is not just one point-of-view but three in addition to Kendra’s. For this reader, it was an intriguing way to relay the story. Intertwined into this teen novel are two popular fairy-tales and even, a historical figure is present, and one historic event. The fables chronicle a much different look at the Little Mermaid story than Disney’s syrupy sweet animated children’s movie, and a Cinderella manifested in the 21st century character of Emma. A plot which makes some changes to the normal circumstances of the myth.Once I finished this novel, I think overall, my opinion was that it was much stronger than Beastly. Now I’ve said that, I don’t know that this is “better” if you are more of a dreamy soul, and prefer the romantics of Flinn’s prior works. Bewitching is instead a study in friendships, and a “mean girl” who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

The writing cumulates so that it allows for an easy read, and yet isn’t so plagued by over-dramatics or contrived plots that we are constantly rolling our eyes, wishing we were in another author’s world. The transitions into the 1900’s (Little Mermaid) and the courts of Marie Antoinette keep things interesting. Sometimes I did become a bit frustrated with the style of writing because it does jump around a lot but for the better parts, the narrative is a clear-cut one that gets its point across. The book isn’t all that deep and, unfortunately stumbles with a few too many flaws* for me to recommend this as a “good” book for young girls but there is also a depth to the story that is the best surprise of all.

The novel opens in 1666 England with Kendra discovering she is “cursed” to be a witch when she unknowingly possesses the power to save the only member of her family still living, her brother, Charlie. The premise is well thought-out in Kendra’s decision to choose good over evil. The fourteen-year-old in her doesn’t realize exactly what the ramifications of her “gift” are, but she is lured, tempted towards evil and instead rejects that way of life. I liked these subtle things woven into the story that sees our heroine, above all steadily learn the value of friendship – how to do good, to be an ally to the friendless. In Kendra, Flinn has created a character many can probably relate too – hers is a struggle of fitting in, even though, in reality she is not bothered by what her peers think of her because she has the power to not just make them look foolish but write a different “ending” to their story. The conclusion is a perfect example of Kendra – and Emma, understanding what it means to be a friend… it also leaves us romantics sighing with pleasure. Bewitching is engaging and also fun. Never have I read a novel in which the first-person point-of-view is primarily not the heroine’s. How clever.

I now want to watch my copy of Beastly on DVD – ah! It’s the romantic in me.

Read more about my thoughts on Kendra in the latest issue of Femnista

*What to know: There are a few instances of profanity (p***ed, uses of, “oh my god!”), sensual situations (one character spies on her step-sister making out, and “fooling around” with her boyfriend). There is a teenage suicide. A witch bakes children into gingerbread, another can turn herself into another creature at will (she also possesses magic). Sadly… this is not a “teen” novel – or it shouldn’t be!


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