Book Club Pick: December 2014
Author: Alex Flinn
Series: Stand alone novel
Country: United States of America
First Published: 2011
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 shore 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 be 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 Keys.
Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all true, the second I got CLOAKED.
Seventeen-year-old aspiring shoe designer Johnny Marco is approached at his family’s struggling shoe repair shop in a ritzy Miami South Beach hotel, by Victoriana, an Alorian Princess, who asks him to find her brother Philippe, who has been transformed into a frog by an evil witch.
In exchange for his heroic deed the Princess agrees to marry Johnny. This would save him and his mother from poverty and not surprisingly the idea of marrying a ‘hot princess’ appeals to the teenage boy.
To aid him on his quest Victoriana gives Johnny a magical cloak that allows him to transport himself anywhere he wishes and a magical earpiece that allows him to talk to animals. Johnny is later joined on his journey by his best friend Meg who has a few tricks of her own up her sleeve.
It is not an easy adventure for Johnny, as he searches for the Prince he battles scary biker dudes, giants and the evil witch.
The story mixes traditional fairytales in a modern setting. Unlike Flinn’s other novels, such as Beastly (2007, Beauty and the Beast), A Kiss in Time (2009, Sleeping Beauty), Towering (2012, Rapunzel), which are a retelling of one main fairytale, Cloaked is a mash up of numerous stories. In an author’s note at the end of the book, Flinn lists her inspirations to include The Frog Prince, The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Six Swans, The Golden Bird, The Valiant Tailor, The Salad, and The Fisherman and His Wife.
Being that it is mash up several fairytales was one of the reasons picking this book over one of Flinn’s others.
The novel is written in first person narrative and Flinn does a reasonably good job at capturing Johnny’s spirit and voice. Johnny is a nice guy, he wants to do best by his mum and help his friends, but at times he could be a little oblivious when it came to reading other people and often I was left wondering how he could be so clueless.
The book is an easy read with short chapters, and I did enjoy the shoe quotes that Johnny and Meg collected and quoted to each other. It is also a fairly clean read with no coarse language, sex and only mild violence.
Cloaked will appeal most to readers who have an interest in fairytales or fantasy adventure stories.
Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.