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Review by Kelly Jarvis: Clever, Cursed, and Storied by Amy Trent

Inspired by Toni Morrison who once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” Amy Trent presents readers with a retelling of the little-known Scottish fairy tale Kate Crackernuts in her beautifully crafted novel Clever, Cursed, and Storied. The second book in Trent’s Enchantment Retold series begins with a prologue that references Trent’s Smoke, Steel, and Ivy (a Twelve Dancing Princesses reimagining) before continuing with the stand alone story of Kate, who has fled to the North Mountains seeking magic to disenchant her cursed sister Annie, and Henry, the ailing prince of the North Kingdom who is suffering from a curse of his own. Disguised as storyteller, Kate must navigate a hostile environment to save both Henry and her sister.

Although the overarching plot of Clever, Cursed, and Storied is a retelling of Kate Crackernuts, the novel glistens with references to other well-known fairy tales like Bluebeard, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood. Kate, who has been wandering the countryside telling stories in exchange for meals and shelter, finds herself in the palace of the North Kingdom where she relays many of these famous tales to Henry. Storytelling is presented as a form of enchantment and connection, allowing Kate and Henry to share their fears and burdens with each other. They learn to see each other in the stories Kate tells, revealing the transformative magic at the heart of storytelling that will ultimately help the pair, and their siblings, face a dangerous and uncertain future.

I thoroughly enjoyed Amy Trent’s luscious reimagining of Kate Crackernuts. Trent’s novel is set in a romantic world filled with dancing, dreams, Fae, and magic. The protagonists and their siblings are engaging characters who come to life through Trent’s beautiful description and well-paced narrative. Together, Kate and Henry learn that “the best stories…{have} something that {works} for everyone.” Clever, Cursed, and Storied: A Fairy Tale Retelling is one of those stories. This novel has something that will work for every reader, and it is a must read for all who look for the magic that lies at the heart of storytelling. I loved it!

You can find the book here.

Kelly Jarvis works as the Assistant Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine where she writes stories, poems, essays, book reviews, and interviews. Her poetry has also been featured or is forthcoming in Blue Heron Review, Mermaids Monthly, Eternal Haunted Summer, Forget Me Not Press, The Magic of Us, A Moon of One’s Own, Baseball Bard, and Corvid Queen. Her short fiction has appeared in The Chamber Magazine and the World Weaver Press Anthology Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. You can find her at


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