Review: Spelled by Betsy Schow

Posted June 15, 2015 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Review: Spelled by Betsy SchowSpelled by Betsy Schow
Series: The Storymakers #1
on 2015-06-02
Length: 352 pages
Reviewing eARC Rating:

Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after. 

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

Initial Reaction:


Spelled by Betsy Schow encompasses everything I LOVE and HATE about young adult fiction. Set in the land of fairy tales come to life, Dorthea is the spoiled princess and prisoner of the Emerald Palace. A curse placed on all the females of her family keeps her a prisoner in her own palace. Then one wish gone awry unlocks the laws of magic and sends Dorothea on a journey to save magic and the fairy tale kingdom from destruction.

What I Loved

A story set in Oz….well sorta 😉 The entire story is set in a land of fairy tales, like every fairy tale you can think of has its own kingdom including the Land of Emerald. This makes for an exciting read as Dorthea and her ragtag group travel from kingdom to kingdom on their quest. AND the author ties these different kingdoms to scenes from The Wizard of Oz which of course I loved!

The Fantasy Elements….this story is full of fantastical creatures, magic, and infused with just the right amount of fairy tale and pop culture. It makes for an entertaining read! The imagery is surreal and perfect and I felt as if I could feel and hear and taste everything that was happening to the characters.

Prince Kato 😀 This character is one that is easy to hate and love. He’s arrogant (or at least he comes off that way), yet kind and loyal to a fault and so stinking cute as this weird chimera hybrid puppy. His relationship with Dorthea is tenuous to say the least as their first disastrous encounter but I did like him and rooted for him throughout the book.

The Humor….this book is hilariously funny. I laughed til I cried and then laughed some more. Dorthea is a spoiled brat and it shows. It’s especially funny and a bit endearing when she’s so concerned about her clothes and shoes after she basically causes the collapse of her kingdom. The pop culture/urban references to technology like iPhones and internet are throughout the book and appealing to those with dry humor like me 😉

What I Hated

Teen Drama….if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, I CANNOT STAND TEEN DRAMA!!!! It’s why I avoid young adult contemporary and this book is full of it.

Dorthea….the main character is extremely shallow concerned about the latest fashions rather than the collapse of magic, selfish thinking of only what she wants instead of what is best for her kingdom, and immature not thinking of the consequences of her wish. Despite how much I disliked her, Dorthea does have some redeeming qualities though they don’t show up til the end of the book.

Mean Girls….I didn’t like them in high school and I certainly didn’t care for them in this book. Unfortunately Dorothea is one of them, picking on anyone she deems unworthy. This included her first encounter with Prince Kato and the maid girl she eventually saves.

The Villain….the Gray Witch or Griz is not very good at striking fear in the hearts of the reader. She’s petty, doesn’t seem to have a clear plan other than giving the princess her wish, and seems rather incompetent at becoming queen. She adds some comedic relief but not much suspense in my opinion.

Not What I Expected

This book was so far from what I expected, but that’s not a bad thing. I was expected a loose retelling of The Wizard of Oz and while all my favorite elements are there, it isn’t a retelling at all. Dorthea makes a wish that she can escape her curse and the forced engagement to Prince Kato, yet the wish becomes a curse itself when it threatens to undo magic. Dorthea is forced to face the world outside the Emerald Palace and she must rely on two people she didn’t think worthy of her time. To defeat the Gray Witch, Dorthea must face her own fears about the curse placed on her family and she must learn to use the magic within her.

Overall I could have done without the first 50% of the book. It contained all I hate about young adult contemporary and I was really ready to DNF it. But the last 50% is golden! It’s unique, reminds me of why I read young adult fantasy, and it’s fast-paced. Dorthea’s character redeems herself in the last half and Prince Kato becomes a bit more likable as well. I think this quote sums up the book really well:

It’s not about who I want to be; it’s about who I need to be.

So while I obviously didn’t like some of the book, I really liked other parts and the ending has me hooked. If there are more books in the series (which the ending sets it up for more) I will read them. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy urban fantasy, fairy tales, all things Oz, and of course young adult 😉


About Betsy Schow

Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals.


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