Cloaked by Alex Flinn is the latest in a series of wonderful young adult fairy tale novels. Cloaked, like some of the other novels, is not a take-off of just one fairy tale, but a conglomeration of bits and pieces from many. And for those of us living in cold Chicago, the trip, even on paper, to the warm Miami setting will be enjoyed.
Adding to the charm (and interest) are the epigraphs at the beginning of many chapters. Each one is from a fairy tale. For example: “Do not take the golden cage. If you do, great misfortune will follow. –The Firebird and the Grey Wolf” Each one is apposite (appropriate) to the chapter at hand, and a delight to lovers of obscure (and not-so-obscure) fairy tales.
In this story, Johnny, a seventeen-year-old who works in his family’s shoe repair shop (thus many references to cobblers), is the unlikely hero who must find the prince who has been turned into a frog by the evil witch.
For a teenager who works in Miami, finding out that magic exists is huge enough. He must then learn how to use a magic cloak, earbuds which allow him to converse with animals-who-were-once-human, and a best-friend who may be more than she seems.
Alex Flinn writes humorously and her first person narrative is a believable teenage boy. She deftly weaves in many, many characters and scenes from favorite fairy tales including the golden goose, the magic fish, the frog prince (obviously), enchanted swans (a mixture of stories by both Grimm and Andersen), giants, brownies (not the kind you eat) and more.
Also helping quite a bit with the rescue attempt is Meg, the girl-next-door, whom Johnny has known his whole life. She is spunky and fiercely independent.
The story is extremely charming, non-stop adventure, and the reader will not want to stop reading. Will he marry the princess? Will she marry the prince? Or will they find true love?
If this is the first Alex Finn book you read, you will want to pick up her other wonderful fairy tale titles: Beastly and A Kiss in Time. Enjoy.
These titles are available in February at your local independent bookstores. Visit The Book Stall in Chestnut Court in Winnetka or Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville or Downer’s Grove. Both stores feature frequent author signings. Visit their websites for more information.