Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dewitched: The Untold Story of the Evil Queen by E. L. Sarnoff

Here's a fun mashup of fairy tales: E. L. Sarnoff's Dewitched.  The premise of this one is a lot of fun -- after the evil queen's plans to kill Snow White are thwarted, she's entered into a rehab program, by none other than the Huntsman she had trusted to help her with her wicked plan.  With a steady barrage of familiar fairy tale characters, and lively writing, this one is a page turner.

The only real problem I had with this was the constant use of sexuality and ugliness equating to wickedness among the female characters.  This was all from the viewpoint of the rehabilitated queen, whose thoughts and attitudes don't change so much as she learns to progress from her initial impulses of anger and jealousy.  So I suppose it's a matter of the character, but I felt uncomfortable with the constant uses of the words "skank" and "whore" as derogatory terms.  There is also a whole can of worms about body image here and I didn't feel like the writing handled that in a fully responsible way -- in spite of the premise that the queen must overcome her inability to see inner beauty, there is a consistent use through the book of ugliness or ugly terminology to depict evilness.  So if that is a hot button for you, I would avoid this one.

However, it is a fun romp with a lot of clever writing in terms of the use of fairy tales and sly puns about them.  Some of the throw-away mentions of other tales startled laughter out of me and there are good chuckles throughout the book, both in the fairy tale references and the characters themselves.

It's a light and funny read, with a cute premise and a lot of great cameos.  The book didn't go quite where I was hoping it would, but with some surprising twists near the end it was enough to keep me guessing.  It's only available as an ebook now, and for the low price it's a fun afternoon read.


  1. So, is your discomfort in the name-calling to designate someone one doesn't like or in the fact that the words "skank" and "whore" are used as negative designations?

    1. I'm uncomfortable using words that are so closely associated with sexuality as insults. I know a lot of women insult each other this way and I don't think it's good writing to default to that. There's a lot about the character learning to accept people for who they are on the inside but she never really seems to overcome this kind of judgment, still calling people she doesn't like things like "ugly skank."

      "Skank" is certainly always an insult and it's rare for anyone to use "whore" in a positive light although I have seen some women reclaim it. I just hate the notion that anything negative about women -- even if it's just not getting along with the main character -- get sexually degraded as punishment. Which I don't think the author was intentionally doing but when it's a trend in society it's hard not to view it that way.

    2. Oh, I see.

      Maybe I'm desensitized because of television and media (no, really!), but I don't know if that would give me pause in reading a book unless someone pointed it out.

      At the same time, I've never been called that, and I think it would hurt me very much if someone called me a skank or a whore, bringing my sexuality into an unrelated argument. So I get you there.

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