Review: Spelled

It's been over a year since I reviewed Pathways, the first book in Camille Peters' Kingdom Chronicles series. Though it wasn't my favorite, I decided to check out the next two books from a box set she released recently with the first three in the series. Spelled tells the story of Rosie, the best friend of the protagonist in Pathways. I remember I found her mildly irritating for trying to force Eleanor to fall in love after she told Rosie repeatedly that she wasn't interested in a relationship. Unfortunately, reading a book from Rosie's perspective makes her flaws even more irritating than in Eleanor's book. She comes off as so much of a dreamer that it reaches the point of borderline psychosis. The romantic moments were charming, but it often felt like I was watching an episode of Crazy-Ex Girlfriend without the redemption arc where the main character seeks psychological help for her obsession.

Rosie is a romantic dreamer who is somewhat full of herself. She comes from a humble background and spends most of her time reading fairy tales and imagining herself as the heroine of her own story. When she learns that her best friend married a prince, she behaves as though she is now a very important person even though being "the best friend of the new princess" doesn't actually grant her a title or status. She decides that it is now her destiny to marry a prince and become a princess as well and does everything in her power to make this happen, even if it means ignoring her budding romance with Alastar, the royal guard. The first half of the book is rather slow, but tensions rise around the midpoint, where Rosie bakes some chocolates for Prince Liam that are laced with magic to force him to fall in love with her.

Spelled takes place in a world that has a similar mythology to the Amazon series Just Add Magic. Rosie possesses a cookbook with instructions to bake delectable sweets that have various side effects on the psychological state of the people who eat them. I thought this concept was fascinating in the Amazon series and would have loved to read more about it here. Instead, the book begins with a brief description of Rosie baking something to deal with her grief over losing her friend Eleanor (the main character from Pathways), but then she immediately learns that Eleanor is fine and simply disappeared for a little while to get engaged to a prince. After that, Rosie stays at the castle for Eleanor's wedding, and her enchanted treats are barely mentioned again until about halfway through the book is where all her problems begin.

Where the prequel to this book suffered from a lack of a villain, Rosie's actions here prove that she is the villain in her own story, which resolves the lack of conflict in a somewhat uncomfortable way. It is difficult to root for someone who we know is making the wrong decision even after she has had ample time to learn and grow from her mistakes. The saving grace of the book is Rosie's romance with Alastar. It's hard to imagine that a palace guard could fall for someone so silly, but by the end of the book, we learn that Alastar is just as silly as Rosie and is quite possibly the only person who knows how to put up with her ridiculous antics. She accuses him of being a villain after he gets understandably suspicious of her wandering through the palace at night, which causes him to continue keeping a close watch on her throughout her stay at the castle. His constant interference with her antics turns out to be the only thing that can save her from herself on multiple occasions.

Spelled is an uneven narrative that's difficult to review. The first half of the book is slow and repetitive as we get a strong sense of Rosie's obsession with marrying a prince and refusal to acknowledge her feelings for Alastar. However, once she casts the love spell on Prince Liam, the story picks up a lot. Even though I had fun reading it after that, I still found that there was little growth on Rosie's part. I would recommend this book if you are looking for something light and silly to your spirits, but not if you are looking for a story with meaningful character depth and plot development.


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