Review: Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

10th Oct 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan MorrisonDisenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison
Series: Tyme #2
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub Date: October 11th 2016
Pages: 416
Format: ARC | Source: Author
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Retelling
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she'll need some high-level support . . .

Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts -- but with the witch Envearia's death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn't know where to start . . .

Serge can grant any wish -- and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he's catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody's ever heard of . . . Ella Coach.

I loved this book SO much for many different reasons! And I’m going to try something new and format my review in bullet points to really drive home my thoughts on Disenchanted.

-This book has all of the adventure, humor, and heart of Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel but still manages to feel completely different, which I think is incredible; the land of Tyme is so huge that each land truly feels like a different kingdom! They have their own cultures, histories, and landscapes, and it’s exciting to get to experience various parts of Tyme. Plus there are two maps!

-There are three POVs (Ella, Dash, Serge) that alternate in various lengths instead of chapters, and it was satisfying to see them begin to interweave while also getting the full scope of the story.

-I loved Ella! She was an amazing, well-realized main character: passionate, brilliant, and while she sometimes spoke too quickly or out of anger, her heart was always in the right place.

-I loved what Megan Morrison did with Ella’s family- it’s not the typical evil stepmother and stepsisters. Ella’s dad is alive and remarried, and she has a stepbrother and stepsister. It’s also more a case of growing pains and misunderstandings rather than them being “evil”. I really loved watching the evolution of their relationships.

-I loved Prince Dash! He was handsome but awkward, and his relationship with Ella (and his kingdom) really grows and flourishes. He takes the time to listen to her, even if he doesn’t agree. Plus there are well earned swoons ;) I loved Dash’s mother too. And the fairy godfathers Serge and Jasper, who I TOTALLY SHIP (and yes, it’s a legit ship!). Also, the head godmother Jules reminded me of the fairy godmother from Shrek 2. What a piece of work.

-I loved everything about the Blue Kingdom: the boarding school, the castle, the Glass Slipper, and the focus on the workshops and business class. It was unexpected and very dark and Dickensian at times, including one particularly harrowing sequence. I really appreciate that Megan Morrison never talks down to her readers. These are mature (but not inappropriate) books and deal with tough subjects much like the Harry Potter books did- through a fantasy lens.

Disenchanted does a wonderful job of capturing a diverse group of characters within its pages, everything from race to culture to class. There are hints of an LGBT relationship too. The world feels multicultural and racially diverse, and the differences in custom and culture between each kingdom is illustrated nicely. Even the groups of fairies vary with regard to their own customs.

-At the crux of Disenchanted, however, is the issue of class and ethical dilemmas. Would you rather buy quality goods for cheap if the workers are treated abysmally or pay more for better goods if you know that the workers are treated fairly? This is what Ella is fighting for, for very personal reasons.

-The book made me emotional at different points- I laughed, I gasped, I almost cried- but last 60 pages are particularly fantastic. I love a good courtroom scene!

-Most of all, I loved all the small details. This world feels lived in, with a rich history that I’m dying to know more about. It’s timeless but modern and I love all the allusions and details from the first book and from fairy tales. I can’t wait to see what else is in store in the land of Tyme!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison

11th Nov 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan MorrisonGrounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison
Series: Tyme #1
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub Date: April 28th 2015
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

In all of Tyme, from the Redlands to the Grey, no one is as lucky as Rapunzel. She lives in a magic tower that obeys her every wish; she reads wonderful books starring herself as the heroine; her hair is the longest, most glorious thing in the world. And she knows this because Witch tells her so---her beloved Witch, who protects her from evil princes, the dangerous ground under the tower, even unhappy thoughts. Rapunzel can't imagine any other life.

Then a thief named Jack climbs into her room to steal one of her enchanted roses. He's the first person Rapunzel's ever met who isn't completely charmed by her (well, the first person she's met at all, really), and he is infuriating-- especially when he hints that Witch isn't telling her the whole truth. Driven by anger at Jack and her own nameless fears, Rapunzel descends to the ground for the first time, and finds a world filled with more peril than Witch promised ... and more beauty, wonder, and adventure than she could have dreamed.

If you love fairy tales, adventure, whimsy, emotionally complex characters, and imaginative world building, you have to read Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel!

You must know by now that I absolutely adore fairy tale retellings. That alone drew me to Grounded, along with the adorable, vibrant cover. But when I read that Megan Morrison had been developing the land of Tyme for over 10 years, co-founded a Harry Potter fanfic site back in 2003, and had a fantastic blurb from Leaky Cauldron founder Melissa Anelli my curiosity was at an all time high. If Melissa believed that Grounded was as imaginative and charming and all-encompassing as Harry Potter, it had to be… right? I am so happy to say that it IS!

I don’t think I’ve ever read another book that I would more readily give to fans of Harry Potter. It’s not even anything like the wizarding world. It’s the intangibles, the whimsically detailed world building and sense of history, the fascinating characters, the dichotomy of good and evil and the realization that there is a very large gray area in between that gives credence to the comparison. Grounded is also incredibly well written, funny, and exciting. It’s an exhilarating MG fantasy and a pure delight to read. I was swept away on this magical, emotional journey that I hadn’t expected!

Morrison’s Rapunzel reminded me of a mix of Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled and Cress from The Lunar Chronicles, but with more attitude. She has only known her perfect, magical life in the tower and everything that Witch has ever told her. When a thief named Jack appears at her tower claiming that her life is a lie, Rapunzel is furious but it sets off a chain reaction that kick starts her adventure. It’s actually frustrating to read at first since you know that Jack is right, but you really earn Rapunzel’s story this way.

 

 

 

Watching Rapunzel change and experience the world is fascinating. She is suspicious and naive but Jack reluctantly teaches her on their quest and Rapunzel learns how to be a friend to others, and how to trust her own instincts as well as other people. She wrestles with weighty ideas such as morality and love and grief, all in age appropriate but thoughtful ways. And she and Jack are a liiiittle too young to ship (there isn’t romance in the book to speak of) but their gradual friendship is heartwarming and of course I hope it blossoms in the future! They both have courage and charisma to spare.

Grounded is a funny book with charming locales and characters. It’s also quirky- Rapunzel has a pet frog and is a great jacks player. She is often blunt to the point of being rude, but incredibly full of life and love. There are princes and towers and fairies and secrets and lost loves. There is a lot of action and traversing the country. The Ubiquitous store seems right out of Diagon Alley. And as with every good book, there is more to Witch’s story that meets the eye.

The world feels BIG but you never feel lost in it as a reader. I wanted to explore it all, learn more about the Hundred Year Day, the different realms, the magic and history of Tyme. It’s going to be a companion series so we’ll get to meet new main characters and hear their stories while old friends pop in and out. I’m so excited by that concept!

It’s a joyful book but it’s dark at times and doesn’t shy away from the notion of death, much like Harry Potter. It’s smart, descriptive, and full of fairy tale magic. I can’t recommend Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel highly enough, it’s one of my favorite books of the year! I bought a finished copy immediately after returning my library book :)

 

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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