‘BEWITCHING,’ BY ALEX FLINN. Reviewing the 2012 YA contemporary fantasy novel about the witch, Kendra. All text is © Rissi JC

Synopsis: Meet Kendra. This is her story. If we think we have it bad – try living in her world. In Bewitching, her escapades unfolds in the life of a witch. Always trying to help people often backfires on the eccentric Kendra but still she tries to make a better world for unsuspecting people in need. Weather it’s a princely snob or a young girl trying to do battle with her teenage step-sister, she’s always vetting potential “projects.”  After all, a beast of a curse on a popular dude who stomps on everyone’s feelings is just one of her curses.

Bewitching, by Alex Flinn | Book Review

Review: An introduction to this author did not come about until one of her novels was turned into a major motion picture early last year. This NY Times bestselling author swept me into her version of Beauty and the Beast with the novel, Beastly. Best known for writing fairy-tales “updated” into our modern world and culture, Alex’s novels, I’ve found to be quite entertaining.  

Who remembers Kendra as a supporting character in Beastly, and the person who places a curse on the hero, Kyle? When I first
learned that Kendra was to have her own story, I was thrilled – I probably nearly screamed with joy at the mere prospect of it! Now that the wait is over, I’ve found myself both skeptical and intrigued when picking up Bewitching. Some fans thought Kendra possessed “something” that made her… cool. I did not see that. I don’t dislike her in the feature film but reading how Flinn intends her character to be, opens all sorts of new “possibilities” about this character for me. She was so much more approachable, and her own novel only reinforces that notion. It’s in the first-person which again, is not my favorite method of story-telling but aside from that, there is not just one point-of-view but three in addition to Kendra’s. For this reader, it was an intriguing way to relay the story.

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Also part of this teen novel is two popular fairy-tale. The fables chronicle a much different look at the Little Mermaid story than Disney’s syrupy sweet animated children’s movie; and a Cinderella manifests in the 21st century character of Emma. A plot which makes some changes to the normal circumstances of the myth. Once I finish the novel, I think overall, my opinion is that it’s much stronger than Beastly. Rather than romance, Bewitching is instead a study in friendships, and a “mean girl” who will stop at nothing.  

The writing cumulates so that it allows for an easy read, and yet isn’t so plagued by over-dramatics or contrived plots that we are constantly rolling our eyes, wishing we were in another author’s world. The transitions into the 1900’s (Little Mermaid) and the courts of Marie Antoinette keep things interesting. Sometimes I did become a bit frustrated with the style of writing because it does jump around a lot but for the better parts, the narrative is a clear-cut one that gets its point across. The book isn’t all that deep and, unfortunately stumbles with a few too many flaws* for me to recommend this as a “good” book for young girls but there is also a depth to the story that is the best surprise of all.  

The novel opens in 1666 England with Kendra discovering she is “cursed” as a witch when she unknowingly saves the only member of her family still living, her brother, Charlie. The premise is well thought-out in Kendra’s decision to choose good over evil. 14-year-old her doesn’t realize exactly what the ramifications of her “gift” are. And so she’s lured towards evil and instead rejects that way of life. I like these subtle things about the story that sees our heroine, above all steadily learn the value of friendship; how to do good, to be an ally to the friendless. In Kendra, Flinn creates a character many can probably relate to. Hers a struggle to fit in, even though, in reality she’ not bothered by what her peers think of her. The conclusion is a perfect example of Kendra – and Emma, understanding what it means to be a friend. Also fortunately, it also leaves us romantics sighing with pleasure. 

Bewitching is engaging and also fun. Never have I read a novel in which the first-person point-of-view is primarily not the heroine’s. How clever.  

About the book:

Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Fiction, Teen, Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org

Content: There are a few instances of profanity (p***ed, uses of, “oh my god!”), sensual situations (one character spies on her
step-sister making out, and “fooling around” with her boyfriend). There is a teenage suicide. A witch bakes children into gingerbread, another can turn herself into another creature at will (she also possesses magic). Sadly… this is not a “teen” novel – or it shouldn’t be! 

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I really enjoyed this book…more than Beastly probably :) I like the twists that her tales take, they don't come out like you might think sometimes ;) Have you read Cloaked? what were your thoughts about it if so? Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!)

  2. Ruth – I hope you do! It was entertaining, and surprisingly well-written.

    Sierra – me, too! I loved Beastly; especially the ending! It had a really sweet component to it all-around, however… this novel was equally engaging. I loved Emma's story, and getting to know Kendra as more than a "witch." Fun read.

    I have Cloaked on my TBR pile. It looks / sounds like it will be one of my least fave by Flinn but I am willing to give it an honest chance. Your thoughts regarding it are most welcome.

    Glad you stopped in, Sierra. =)

  3. If you liked (read) the book, Beastly, you'd like the movie, TJ. It was so cute. My review is posted in the archives. =D

    I hope you enjoy the film – and thanks for sharing a comment. I love those. =)

  4. This sounds really awesome :) I just placed a hold on Beastly, at the library. So I'll have to see how ?I like that :) {I'm thinking I'll love it!}

  5. Rissi~
    I had heard that some people hadn't liked it as much and it didn't hold a candle to Beastly, really, but I liked it better than A Kiss In Time. It was a nice mash up… I thought and otherwise it was pretty exciting…wasn't perfect though :/ Had a cool cover :P Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!)

  6. Trinka – yay! So glad you are back; I've missed you around here. =)

    This was an entertaining read. Kendra is going to be my next Femnista subject, so I am looking forward to that challenge because that sort of character will be really different for me. I was really charmed by Beastly. It is sweet and yet, there is an important lesson to be learned. Enjoy!

    Seirra – thanks for letting me know your thoughts about Cloaked; I am all for other's thoughts / opinions. Unless I really "hate" it, I'll probably post a review, so there will be some discussion with that, too – hopefully. (Unless everyone is really tired of Alex Flinn… in which case, we'll see! ;D)

    Unfortunately, no mainstream "teen" novel seems "perfect." I have yet to read one that is really… decent. Although Michelle Madow's Remembrance was really sweet.

  7. Rissi~
    No way I love all the Alex Flinn stuff! I'll be looking forward to it :) I really enjoy Bryan Davis's stuff. I started reading him about 4 years ago and wow….he does great fantasy.Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!)

    1. It's really sad that so many novels with a "teen" label attached don't take better care to be age-appropriate, Hannah. Despite the element of magic, this novel has a really good heart, and Kendra's character surprised me with her ability to care and be a friend. In the film adaptation of Beastly, she's more "creepy" than easily liked. :)

      I totally understand your reservations – it wasn't so long ago when I would have said the exact same thing.

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