Emily Casey’s The Fairy Tale Trap Blog Tour!
Hello, folks, Emily Casey invited me to be one of the hosts for her blog tour, promoting her YA fantasy novel The Fairy Tale Trap, and I agreed to do a review for the occasion. So, without further ado:
Author: Emily Casey
Release Date: December 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy
Where I Got It: received ebook copy from author in exchange for honest review
Score: 4 out 5
(also, don’t you just LOVE the cover?)
I’ve said this before (and I’ve even mentioned it on my page about my book reviews), but I’ll say it again: I LOVE stories that re-imagine fairy tales. I loved it when Robin McKinley did it in Beauty, Rose Daughter, and Deerskin. I loved it when Anne Sexton did it in her poetry collection Transformations. I love it in the tv show Once Upon a Time. I loved it in Kait Nolan’s YA fantasy novel, Red. So when Emily Casey approached me with a synopsis of her book, asking for hosts for her blog tour and for reviews, I jumped on the chance.
The Fairy Tale Trap, book 1 in the Ivy Thorn series, introduces us to the main character, Ivy, a “military brat” who has just moved again with her mother, while waiting for her father to return from overseas. Ivy has a strange phobia: she is scared of mirrors, she has even been taken to doctors because she believes she sees things moving in the mirror sometimes. “It’s just stress,” her doctors tell her. Then, while unpacking, Ivy happens to look into a mirror, and someone else smiles back at her.
Suddenly, she is pulled through the movie and into a forest, into a world of magic and fairy tales. Pushed along by an obnoxious pixie who seems to know a lot more than he’s letting on, and trapped in a forest spelled to keep people inside, Ivy finds herself stuck right in the middle of the story of Beauty and the Beast. The Beast, strangely kind at first, turns deadly due to a mistake on Ivy’s part. Beauty, as beautiful as can be, seems a little to vapid to help herself. And somehow, Ivy has to figure out how to fix the mess she’s made, and find her way home.
What I Liked:
So, like I said, I love stories that re-imagine fairy tales. And this story is no exception. I love the premise. Emily Casey did her homework, researching many different variations on the Beauty and the Beast tale, drawing details from different versions to make the story and the world intricate and strange. The amount of work she put into it is obvious and will be very appreciated by people like who me who are similarly obsessed with fairy tales and folklore. I also loved the way the story is twisted because of Ivy’s involvement, as a plot that should be simple according to what we know about the tale becomes a bigger and bigger mess.
The main character, Ivy Thorn, is wonderful. I really enjoyed this character. She’s believable and easy to relate to. I myself am a “military brat,” so I could appreciate that characterization. I also liked the way Ivy’s love of running and track background contributed to her ability to survive in this fairy tale world without being eaten – literally. And her intense fear of mirrors makes for a unique character trait that adds interest to an otherwise “normal” (though intelligent, and somewhat sarcastic), teenage girl. The fact that we even get some explanation of WHY she’s afraid of mirrors makes it even better (but I won’t say anymore on that, you’ll just have to read and find out).
There are only a small handful of other characters: Beast, Beauty, the obnoxious pixie, and couple other very minor characters. The pixie is a strange character with some very strange motives. It was a smart choice on Casey’s part to reveal only little bits of his agenda, and I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series, if only to better understand what the hell he’s up to and why. The other characters, however, lead me into…
What I Didn’t Like:
I really wish the other characters, namely Beast and Beauty, had been developed a bit more. Beauty got some development and characterization, essentially to save the character from becoming the flat cliché vapid princess type. She does have a few chances to show some facets to her character, but I would have preferred more in-depth characterization. The same definitely goes for the Beast. We get a little characterization through a few journal entries that Ivy finds and reads, but these journal entries don’t really work well – the Beast character lacks a distinct voice, and the journal entries give us a little to go on about his personality except for self-pity. I really wanted to feel something for that character, and I didn’t.
A lot of this, I think, comes down to the writing style. It’s not bad. It’s competent, let’s say. But there is definitely room for development and maturity. While there are some spots of wonderful description, and I enjoy the voice of the main character, the overall writing is perhaps overly-simplistic. It doesn’t go deep enough – into the setting, into the characters, or into the complexities and implications of the situation.
Because Casey is so determined to stay truthful to the fairy tale, she misses the opportunity to go past the simplistic construction of the tale (because let’s face it, for all that we love them, most fairy tale plots are very simple), and delve deeper into how real people, with complex personalities, and real problems might respond in these situations. For one example: in the fairy tale, we don’t really bother to question WHY Beauty would fall in love with the Beast, but in this novel, I would expect some kind of character development to explain the switch and attraction beyond the answer we get, which is: because that’s how the story goes.
This book was rather short, and could easily have been lengthened by at least another half, still keeping the plot and prose tight while also giving us more depth.
Over-all, I definitely enjoyed it. It was a fun, light, quick read that I finished in only a three sittings, in between coursework and lesson plans. I really like the premise and the main character, and I feel pretty confident that I will read the second book when it comes out. So, if you’re looking for something fun and like fairy tales, I can definitely recommend The Fairy Tale Trap.
Please check out yesterday’s blog tour stop at Death By Chocolate.
Then check out Friday’s blog tour stop at E.J.’s Library.
And, for more information about the author and her books, go to Emily Casey’s blog.