Best known for her literary hit Beastly (which inspired a movie a few years ago), Alex Flinn continues her streak of fairy tale re-mixes with Cloaked, a mash-up of The Frog Prince, The Elves and the Shoemaker, and a handfull of random obscurities originally penned by Grimm and Anderson. Unfortunately, this book boasts too many bits and pieces of interwoven fairy tale plots and not enough originality. And the story suffers for it: Characters (even main ones) are never fully fleshed out, bad guys don't feel threatening, romance lacks chemistry, and the ending wraps up too neatly--even for a fairy tale. The concept for the story is a good one. Unfortunately, the execution falls flat. Fans of Beastly will be disappointed, and fairy tale connoisseurs will feel short-changed.
In Cloaked, we meet Johnny, a teenage shoe repairman (and closet shoe designer) who works at a fancy Florida hotel. When a visiting princess recruits him to go on a mission to rescue her brother, who has been transformed into a frog, Johnny accepts. Armed with a magic cloak that transports its wearer anywhere they desire, an earpiece that allows communication with transformed animals, and a magic ring, Johnny, accompanied by his friend Meg, go in search of said frog. They encounter a tedious amount of fairy tale and magical creatures and situations before finally rescuing the prince and returning him to the safety of his family. In the end, Johnny (rather predictably) gets the girl, convinces the thuggish bad guy to do the right thing, finds his missing father, and lands a $$$ contract to sell his shoe designs. And they all live happily ever after.
Alex Flinn has a new book coming out later this month. A retelling of Rapunzel. I liked what Disney did with this particular tale, so have high hopes for Flinn's interpretation. Hopefully, she'll go back to what she did with Beastly and focus on modernizing a single tale rather than making an overstuffed mashup of many. --AJB