My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Beheld by Alex Flinn is the fourth book in the Kendra Chronicles. Readers were first introduced to the witch in Flinn’s Beauty and the Beast retelling, Beastly. Since then she has been involved in a number of other famous fairy tales like Cinderella and Rapunzel. In this book, readers follow Kendra’s life as she finds the love of her life, loses him and repeats the cycle. Each time she encounters him, readers are treated to a short retelling. The first is Little Red Riding Hood, which is set in Salem, Ma during the witch trials. The second is Rumplestiltskin, which is set is Bavaria and features a Prince. The third is East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which is set primarily in Britain during the Second World War. The final tale is the Ugly Duckling, which is in modern day Miami.
My least favourite aspect of the book was actually the interludes linking each story together, or Kendra’s tale of trying to find her love. Each retelling would have been an interesting (if short) read, even if she were not a character and the magic was introduced in another fashion. Personally, I felt that these tales would have been better served as novellas because the thread linking them felt forced. The stories themselves felt rushed at times, perhaps because all four had to be combined into one cohesive story and if they were more detailed than the novel would be much too long.
The characters were likable and the world was believable, but neither was particularly developed. I wish that the author had taken the time to delve more deeply into the worlds and build an entrancing narrative. Overall, the book was enjoyable but there were times that it was slow and I had to force myself to pick it back up to continue.
I would recommend this novel, and the series as a whole, to young adult/teen readers who enjoy magic and fantasy in their books, as well as fairytale retellings.