September 29, 2011

Review: Under his Spell, by Marie P. Croall

Author: Marie P. Croall
Title: Under his spell
Series: My boyfriend is a monster (#4)
ISBN: 9780761356028
Publisher: Graphic Universe (2011)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bethany Farmer's life is a boring high school routine, and she likes it that way. Soccer, coffee, homework, more coffee, and no goofy romance. That is, until foreign exchange student Allein Atwood shows up in her Midwestern town, and her life turns epically weird. Allein has unearthly good looks, princely politeness, and a bunch of goofy, romantic pick-up lines. But is his country really so foreign that they don't know anything about soccer? Or coffee?      

To her horror, Bethany is swept off her feet by Allein's spellbinding ways--and then knocked flat by savage creatures set loose into suburbia to hunt Allein down. Suddenly Bethany's normal town is twisted upside down, and nothing is what it seems. Can Bethany rescue her prince of a boyfriend and keep them both alive long enough to go on a second date?
GoodReads’ blurb


I loved Bethany, the main character here. She had a lot of spunk and a huge attitude! But at the same time, I could relate to her day to day: family, hobbies, friends, lack-of-guys problems... All in all, an original lead for the story. Allein, her counterpart, was quite refreshing in the current supernatural landscape: he gave a “clueless” vibe that was just too cute.

At some points, the storyline did feel a bit rushed... But I understand that’s a requirement of the format, so I’m not complaining. Rather, I’d point out the way the author has gone out of her way to show us a mundane, normal life beyond plunging us neck deep into epic battles and undying love stories.

On that same love topic, while the falling in love might be fast, I must say that Bethany’s reaction to Allein’s declaration is... priceless. Perfectly in character, perfectly original.

There’s two more details I really enjoyed: at one point, Bethany’s taken to Faeriland, and those pages are drawn full color, watercolor style. I believe it helped to portray the imagery of how different such a world might be. Also, at the end, there’s a short guide explaining faery origins and myth along with Bethany’s own notes scrawled in the margins, and I appreciated that because, while nothing too obscure, the information in there was correct (yes, I’m a research freak, you already knew that one).

I guess now I should make my comments regarding the artwork. I’ve read lots of manga in my days – wait, that’s a lie, I still do read them! Anyway, I thought I’d not be biased or notice the difference, but it was not the case. I missed the clean lines, beautiful characters and perspective. I’d not even noticed it before, but perspective is quite peculiar and Under his spell does a very personal job out of it. While it brings the dynamics of the action to the forefront, I had some trouble being convinced. Same thing happened with the characters, specially the faery ones: the cast reacted to them as if they were incredibly beautiful, but they looked quite mundane. Bethany’s “natural” look worked, though, even if I’m not very used to expression lines in a highschooler face.

The above comments are completely personal, though. Look at the cover – that’s the style you’ll find within. Black and white for the most part, but same kind of lineart. This is one part where you have to judge for yourself!

I can only speak about the story: short, yes, but solid and enjoyable.

I kind of find myself wondering how life’s treating Bethany and Allein five or ten years after the events here...

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