Happy Saturday y’all! This week was one of those weeks where it was too cold to go out which means it was perfect reading weather. About two years ago (almost 3 now), I read Spelled by Betsy Schow and while it was just an okay read, the ending left me intrigued and wanting more. So imagine my happy surprise when the book turned into a trilogy called The Storymakers. I highly recommend this to those that enjoy fairy tale retellings, urban fantasy, and snark….lots of snark!
I received this book via Netgalley, My Book Shelf. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Wanted by Betsy Schow
Series: The Storymakers #2
Length: 320 pages
Reviewing Audiobook from Netgalley, My Book Shelf
Reading Challenges: 2018 Audiobook Challenge, 2018 Blogger Shame Challenge, 2018 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge
In the sequel to Spelled, can Robin Hood's daughter, Rexi, stop the Wicked Witch from finding Excalibur?
Fairy-Tale Survival Rule No. 52: No matter how difficult the obstacles or all-powerful the evil villain, one can rest assured that the hero of the story never dies. The sidekicks though... they should be worried.Rexi Hood is proud to be an outlaw. After all, she's the daughter of the infamous Robin Hood. But sidekick? Accomplice? Sorry, that wasn't in her story description. Yeah, she and Princess Dorthea of Emerald have been inseparable since they teamed up to fight the wickedest witch. But if Rexi doesn't figure out how to break the curse that binds them, forget being overshadowed by the spirited princess, Rexi's going to become a Forgotten, wiped from the pages of Story and reduced to a puddle of ink. Not happening. No way in Spell. Rexi's plan? Steal the sword Excalibur and use its magic to write her own tale. But Gwenevere has opened a new Academy of Villains in Camelot and danger lurks behind every plot twist. And you know how it goes in Story: keep your friends close and your enemies closer...
This review is hard to write because while I really enjoyed Wanted by Betsy Schow, I was also really lost through the first half or longer of the book. Wanted picks up not long after the end of Spelled and is told entirely from Rexi’s perspective which is part of the reason I was thrown. To be honest this wasn’t my first attempt at reading it. I tried to read the book prior to it’s release last year, but was so lost I gave up. This year I bought the audio and listened and I’m so glad that I did!
Rexi is not an easy character to like. Her betrayal of Dorthea in the first book, her resentment towards her situation, and her woe-is-me attitude really grated my nerves. Not only that, but it seems as if she hasn’t learned her lesson. She is willing to do whatever it takes to be free of the fire opal that is tied to her life spark. I find it interesting that despite everything that has happened to her up to this point, she still doesn’t trust her new friends, which leads her to betraying them yet again.
I think my biggest issue with the book is how little I remember from Spelled. I could have really benefitted from a little recap. I was so lost at the beginning and it didn’t help that the narrator was the mean girl from the first book. Then throw in a different setting such as the Sherwood Forest and Camelot instead of Oz and I was really lost. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the Camelot mythology being included in the story, but it didn’t mesh with Dorthea’s Emerald Kingdom at all.
So at the end of the first book, Blanc is released from her prison, but still has her bindings in place so she cannot access all her magic. And we know that Rexi is being haunted by Morte, basically he’s the Grimm Reaper. Rexi died six times in the first book, every time Dorothea brought her back. I thought it was odd and couldn’t have imagined how she felt. Then this book opens with her dying again and we get to see it from her POV. I was a little horrified that each time she died Morte forced her to cut away a piece of her life line, losing a memory and in the process getting more of Dorothea’s memories and feelings. You can guess how bad that will end.
Overall I powered through Wanted listening to it in one sitting and I’m glad I did. While I was confused at the beginning, I found myself falling back into the story and remembering the characters and some of their hi-jinx from the previous book. However, I didn’t love Rexi, at least not at first. I will admit that by the end I enjoyed her character more than I ever did Dorthea. I would recommend to those that enjoyed the first book to give this book a chance and stick with it til the half way mark. If you can make it past that the story picks up and feels more familiar. Plus that ending!!! I immediately went and started reading the next book because I needed to know what happened. And let me tell you it’s worth the confusion of this book 😉
I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Banished by Betsy Schow
Series: The Storymakers #3
Length: 336 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: 2018 Finishing the Series Reading Challenge, 2018 New Release Challenge
While lying in the hospital in a place called Kansas, Princess Dorthea of Emerald struggles to regain her memory of the events that propelled her out of the land of Story—and to remember how to get home.
Meanwhile, in Story, Rexi, with the help of Excalibur, continues to gain confidence in writing her own tale as she fights to save the land from the Wicked Witch. But as is always the case with evil villains, she is not to be underestimated. Can Dorthea and Rexi save their home while protecting the prince they both love from getting caught in the crossfire?
Banished by Betsy Schow is the fantastic conclusion to The Storymakers. Told from both Dorthea’s and Rexi’s point of view, I found myself reminded of what I loved about this series in the first place: it’s subtle combining of pop culture with fairy tales.
At the end of Wanted, we are left wondering if Dorthea survived and well it’s answered immediately. Dorthea is in a hospital in Kansas when she awakes and when the story begins she’s been there a month. The scar on her chest isn’t from a Excalibur but from surgery to remove cancer. Dorthea is being told that all she knows about Libraria (the land she hails from) is false, that it is all in her head, a psychotic invention brought on by the stress of her cancer. And she’s starting to believe them. Dorthea is heartbroken and lost, yet in Kansas her parents are alive and well. She is a far cry from the spoiled princess in the first book. She’s broken and must find herself in order to help her friends.
Meanwhile Rexi is still in Camelot being named the true king after Excalibur found her. Mordred is at her side and together they plan on saving Dot and the kingdom from Morte and Blanc. This is not the same girl we saw in the last two books. Instead Rexi is changed for the better. She’s finally what’s important to her and that’s her friends who she is determined to save. She’s on a mission and that’s to give all of story a happily ever after.
The plot moves quickly and I found that I liked the dual POV more than I would. I loved seeing Rexi and Dot’s perspectives. But what I loved more was the setting. The author returned to the Oz storyline since really the story has been centered on Dot. I liked the little things like the name of her psychologist Dr. Baum (as in Frank L. Baum the author of The Wizard of Oz) and the club Dot goes to. Dot’s time in Kansas is very reminiscent of the original story this is based on. And Rexi’s trials to find the wishing well brings in some Camelot elements which I also enjoyed. I loved how well the author was able to mesh the stories together, creating Libraria.
Overall Banished was a great read. I enjoyed the climax and the heartbreaking conclusion. I was sad and happy to turn the final page and the end? Well all I can say is I hope that means the author will write more from this land. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that has read the series previously and to those that enjoy urban fantasy and fairy tales.