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Review: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Young Adult, Magical Realism, Fairy Tale Retelling
Hardcover $16.99 (352 pages, HARPERTEEN)
Ebook $9.99 (HARPER COLLINS)
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.

Author Site: www.alexflinn.com

Unusual, Original and Enjoyable Magical Realism (5 stars)

Johnny knows more about shoes than princesses. He and his mother have been running the family shoe repair business and just barely making ends meet for years. There isn't enough money to attend college but he's a good boy and knows what losing the shop would mean to his family legacy. His only dream is to design gorgeous shoes, shoes that'll see far beyond the South Beach hotel his little shop sits in.

But when a gorgeous European princess comes to stay at the hotel his life is forever changed. There's magic in the world and a whole lot of trouble comes with it. Witches, frog princes, talking animals and magic cloaks seek to tangle his shoelaces. If Johnny can save a royal family, help a flock of swan siblings and battle giants then maybe the family business can be saved.

Ugh, my summary there does nothing for this story. I'm sorry! Cloaked is one crazy hodgepodge of lesser known fairy tales twisted into an unusual modern retelling. The blurb for the book does nothing for it. It sells this story short and then some.

This was my second read from Flinn who is fast becoming my go-to author when I want a story I can share with my kids. I'm a huge fan of classic fairytale retellings and she is one author who does it refreshingly and with passion. With that in mind Cloaked is a little different. Instead of retelling a single fable it blends elements of some less common ones. I was very pleased to find that she included an author's note section explaining some of these further. When I was little one of my favorite bedtime stories was The Valiant Tailor so the bits inspired by that one really brought a smile to my face.

I will admit I found the combination of themes to not always mesh seamlessly. The story flowed a bit weirdly at times and the pacing could be a little stop-start because of it. In spite of that I had a terrible time putting it down. I needed to know what was going to happen next and NOW. It's also a very boy friendly adventure.

The book is recommended for ages 12 and up but I would say it's appropriate for some readers younger than that with an adult to read with them. My 10-year-old (at the time) really enjoyed Flinn's Beastly so I am going to see if he'd like to read Cloaked on his own. Girls will like the strong female characters and boys will love the motorcycle chases, fighting giants and other great adventure elements. Simply put I loved this story and think it's an interesting blend of magical realism, boyish adventure and family loyalty worthy of sharing with others.

Other Reviews:
Eating Y.A. Books

Notes: Received ARC via Amazon Vine Program.

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