Title: Damsel Distressed
Author: Kelsey Macke
Release Date: October 14th 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fractured Fairy Tale/Romance
Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters’ story. Those girls don’t get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after-in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy. When Imogen’s new stepsister, Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.
Damsel Distressed is a book which blew me away for so many reasons. Firstly, it is a fairy tale retelling but do not be fooled, the world Kelsey Macke creates is not one of fantasy. Imogen is still grieving over the death of her mother and suffering from depression. Damsel Distressed is written with gritty and raw realism and watching Imogen suffer becomes an upsetting task for the reader; for the latter part of the story I cried almost constantly!
Although I mainly read Young Adult books I have a long-standing issue with the heroines, who are usually thin, pretty and popular. For many readers, who may have been social outcasts because of the way they look or their interests. this will not reflect their teenage experience. In Damsel Distressed, Kelsey Macke finally gives us this ‘real’ female character. Imogen is obsessed with musical theatre but does not have the confidence to be a performer. Instead, she prefers to work behind the scenes and physically she does not fit the generic mould. She is considered to be overweight, but though she may not be stunning to look at and prefers biscuits and pizza to the gym, Kelsey Macke allows us to see past all this and she is a character whom we feel we really ‘know’.
By subverting all the traditional motifs of fairy tales in Damsel Distressed, Kelsey Macke makes us love Imogen more. Whilst she takes the role of the ‘ugly’ step-sister, we know she is truly anything but, with a loving heart and kind nature. However, her ‘pretty’ step-sister, Ella Cinder, is unkind, spoiled and cruel. There are several attempts made to justify Ella’s behaviour, but these are only glossed over as Ella’s final actions confirm her true repulsive nature.
The role of Prince Charming is played by Grant, Imogen’s best friend. Imogen recognised that she was in love with him long ago, but has accepted their platonic relationship. Yet Kelsey Macke details the events between them so closely that we can hope that Imogen’s dream will come true. Although Imogen tries to push Grant away, especially when she is at her lowest point, he is always there to save her, even if it is just sleeping next to her bed when she is lonely.
Much of the success of Damsel Distressed lies with Kelsey Macke’s casting, particularly of Brice who willingly accepts the role of fairy godmother! It is these people around Imogen who assure her of her worth and help her to recover.
This novel is emotional and moving, but Kelsey Macke rewards her reader for their faith in Imogen by giving us the amazing happy ever after we all crave! I know this is a book I will
I know this is a book I will re-read and hope that Kelsey Macke writes something else soon! I hope I’ve convinced you to give this one a try!
Bloggers note: I received a complimentary arc of Damsel Distressed in exchange for an honest review and because of this my copy does not have the full artwork after every chapter. I am sure this contributes to the meaning of the story and even the parts I have seen are gorgeous!