Published: February 8 2011
Length: 341 pages
Warnings: kissing, violence
Other info: Alex Flinn's other books include Beastly, now a film, and A Kiss in Time, and Breathing Underwater and Fade to Black and other things.
Summary : I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.
It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.
Review : Johnny Marco works repairing shoes. Has done for all his life, and thinks he will do for the rest of it too. And then Princess Victoriana turns up, who asks Johnny to go on a search for her brother, who is currently a frog. He accepts. And then a lot of weird things start happening, like his best friend Meg being able to do odd things, meeting a talking fox and a pack of enchanted swans. Normal.
I liked this book as much as Alex Flinn’s other fairy tale retellings, which are just as good. I liked the fact that while the other two focused on one story, this one weaves in quite a few, lesser known fairytales and blends them and adds things to make them work.
The story is fun, and easy to follow. It kept going throughout, it didn’t stop, and you kept wanting to read on with it. The characters are funny, each with clear personalities and motives, and were easy to connect with. One flaw I found was that some of the characters were a bit hard to distinguish or remember, such as the swans (I know they’re only minor characters but I take in things like that) and mother and son witch pairing Sieglinde and Sigfried. With names that are so similar, and characters that were similar too, when reading in certain parts, I had to go back to work out why they were saying that and so on. seriously, they mereged into one character in my head (Tea will do interesting things to you)
Johnny’s narration is great. You get a clear sense of the story, but as well as that you get an insight into how his mind works which, when he’s the main character, is very good for thestory. I like the fact its also very funny at parts, and it gives us something to connect to as well. I also like the repeated references to shoes, and the quotes about them, and so on, which make everything tie in together nicely.
The romance in this is good. He first falls in love with Victoriana, a typical pauper boy and princess romance. However he, in time, realises that maybe his love is slightly closer to home, and that the princess has already fallen properly in love with someone else. A nice reflection on real life, or how a nice ideal real life would be anyway.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to a book that is a brilliant set of fairy tales remixed into one story that has something for everyone.