Beheld Review: A Collection of Good and Bad Retellings

29937983Being a powerful witch, Kendra has survived it all. Since she first beheld James over three hundred years ago, Kendra has tangled with witch hunters and wolves, helped a miller’s daughter spin straw into gold, cowered in London as German bombs fell, and lived through who knows how many shipwrecks. But her powers have limits, and immortality can be lonely. Kendra isn’t ready to stop searching for the warlock she had met centuries ago.

With the help of her magic mirror, Kendra will travel the world to reconnect with her lost love—and, of course, she can’t help but play a hand in a few more stories along the way.

Featuring retellings of favorite fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and The Ugly Duckling, Alex Flinn’s latest young adult novel, Beheld, is fresh fairy-tale fun from beginning to end.

“Sometimes, I stay up all night reading book after book, for I have no family to object.”

A loooOoooOOoOng time ago I read a book called Beastly. And I really, really loved it. And since then, I’ve been dutifully reading all of the Kendra Chronicles. But as much as it pains me to say…they keep getting worse. This book was just…not as good as Beastly.

At first it seems like this is going to be one long novel about Kendra the witch and her quest to find her own true love, after helping out so many other teenagers find their true loves. But alas, it turns out that it is pretty much an anthology of four different fairy tale retellings with four sets of characters in four time periods very, very, very loosely connected by the presence of Kendra doing tinny amounts of magic as a tiny minor character.

The first short story is all about Ann Putnam and the events of the Salem Witch Trials. It’s kind of like The Crucible and Red Riding Hood mixed together but honestly it just seemed poorly explained, especially with the big bad wolf. ALSO since I really hated The Crucible I was just not putting up with it lol so maybe if you enjoy The Crucible you’ll enjoy it a lot more than I did! That story also has Kendra meeting her love, James, and I was pretty peeved by the complete and total instalove between them. It went something like this.

James: You’re a witch and I am too.
Kendra: OMG really you’re a witch?? (or maybe it was wizard? not really specified…) We have so much in common!
James: Also we’re at this witch trial thingie so it’s probably not the best idea to stay here so you need to leave.
Kendra: No, I don’t want to leave because even though I’m a witch at witch trials I’m a stupid idiot.
James: You know what, let’s run away together because I love you.
Kendra: Oh okay I’ll leave if you leave with me and we get married because I love you too.

WHERE IS THE LOGIC? WHEN DID THEY FALL IN LOVE?? This was my least favorite story of the four and I was very relieved when it was over haha.

The next story was a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, and it was pretty good. There was a really nice twist at the end that I really enjoyed, and didn’t really see coming, so that made me happy! I loved the character of Rumpestiltskin himself! The only problem was that the main character was a complete idiot. At least she had the redeemable quality that she likes books so I could relate a little, even though I’m glad I can’t relate too much because I don’t think I’m as stupid as she is!

The third story was a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, set during WWII. I really enjoy the original fairy tale and I’ve never read a retelling of it before so I was really excited to read it! This one felt a lot like instalove too (although not as much as Kendra thank goodness) which kind of turned me off of it, but I really enjoyed the fairy tale itself!

The final story was my favorite of the four. It was a retelling of The Ugly Ducking, but you really wouldn’t know that–it really seemed like it was just another YA contemporary. I’m pretty sure it was the longest of the bunch so I really got to know the characters, which was nice, and honestly, I would rather have read this one as a full length story instead of reading this anthology sort of thing instead. This was pretty much the only story that didn’t feel like instalove–instead, I just ADORED the main characters and I was shipping them so hard ahh!

What was kind of annoying about this book was the fact that Kendra was supposedly the main character and tying them all together, but she was pretty much never there. As the book went on, she sort of disappeared and disappeared. She told half the first story, was a pretty significant character in the second one, was a minor character in the third one, and then her name was dropped maybe twice in the last one. Seriously, you can tell the last story without Kendra and I’d literally not even notice or tell the difference. AND since we pretty much never see Kendra, whenever she would show up for one chapter here and there to talk about James, I’d be like…who are we talking about again? And why do we even care again?

Anyways, this review makes it sound like I hated this book and that always seems to happen since it’s so much easier to be negative but I didn’t! It was definitely an easy, fun read, and I breezed through it. The stories were pretty fun to read (especially the last one!) and of course I was swooning a little over the happy endings!

★★.5 / 5

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