Where I Got the Book From: Author gave me code to receive a free eBook via Smashwords
In Short: adventurous, funny, heartwarming
If you know me well, I have a penchant for retold fairytales. Honestly, who doesn't? The story telling formula of girl meets boy, one (or both) of whom is royalty, and girl and boy fall in love is so universal and speaks to everyone in some way--in fact, it is so ubiquitous and so close to the heart of every human being, that, after mankind got tired of compiling such stories in the nineteenth century, it started making its own spins on them, changing and tweaking or even adding onto them during the twentieth century and lasting well into the twenty-first century. Hey, Disney made a whole franchise out of it. So it seems fairy tale retelling is here to stay.
And a good thing, too. If fairy tale retelling didn't exist, we wouldn't have a stash of soundtracks from Disney flicks (ssshhhh....). Gail Carson Levine, Robin McKinley, and Shannon Hale wouldn't know what to write (well, okay--they're geniuses, and they've written non-fairy tale retellings before, so they'd still figure out something, but imagine a world with no Ella Enchanted or The Goose Girl! Take that and sing it, John Lennon). Drew Barrymore would have been out of work in 1997 when she could have been filming Ever After. And don't even get me started on other writerly folks like Jessica Day George and Juliet Marillier.
But thankfully, there are fairy tale retellings. And we will never tire of them. So when I heard about Emily Casey's The Fairy Tale Trap, the premise of the book definitely appealed to me. What fun! A "Beauty and the Beast" (my second favorite fairytale--the first is "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" which is basically the same thing but with a polar bear and lots and lots of snow) retelling, but with a modern-day girl thrown into the story.
The heroine, Ivy Thorn, is a military brat just trying to settle into the home she and her mother have just moved into while waiting for her father to return home. But moving is the least of Ivy's problems--when she's thrown into the tale of "Beauty and the Beast" against her will by a completely creepy and almost dictatorial pixie, things can only turn out to be more complicated. A mysterious spell, the enchanted prince (enchanted meaning, of course, in beast form), and the eponymous pretty gal continue to haunt Ivy as she makes her way through the tale, seemingly for the pure enjoyment of the pixie who just loves to throw monkey wrenches into the story to make the situation all the more twisted for Ivy.
The Fairy Tale Trap could be easily described as a mixture of Enchanted (but set backwards, with a twenty-first century girl thrown into a fairytale) and Spirited Away, with its strong female lead who must use her strengths if she wants to return home. (Both are fabulous movies, by the way, if you've never seen either.) I'm usually very critical when authors of fiction write novels about characters thrown into odd situations, as quite often, writers fall into the "that-character-would-never-think-or-act-like-that" or "things-would-never-work-out-that-way" follies of literature. However, Ms. Casey did a wonderful job portraying not only Ivy's emotions, but also how a young girl not too keen on fairy tales would react to being practically kidnapped and tossed into the plot of one. Ivy is a character readers will root for, as she's strong, smart, and, dare I say it, snarky (we love snark!). Ms. Casey is at the moment writing the follow-up to this novel, and I'm eager to find out what will become of dear Ivy! (As a side note: hooray for a person-of-color starring in a fantasy novel, much less a fairy tale retelling! As a POC myself, I find it pretty rare to find them in YA--so kudos to Ms. Casey for making Ivy one!)
Red Flags: This was a very clean book--a bit of blood mentioned once, and a few (rather comical) scenes regarding bodily functions (maybe not a good idea to eat while reading those! ;) ), but otherwise completely clean.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Fantasy