Review: Once Upon Stilettos by Shanna Swendson

January 11, 2012

Once Upon Stilettos by Shanna Swendson

Paperback320 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Ballantine Books

Three Stars

Click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like Bloomies!” 
Katie Chandler’s life is pure magic–literally. As an executive assistant at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., she’s seen more than her share of fantastical occurrences. A mere Manhattan mortal, Katie is no wizard, but she’s a wiz at exposing “hokum” pocus, cloaked lies, and deceptive enchantments. And she’s fallen under the all-too-human spell of attraction to Owen, a hunky wizard and coworker. Owen, however, is preoccupied. Someone has broken into his office and disrupted top-secret files, and it reeks of an inside job. CEO Merlin (yes, the Merlin) and taps Katie and her special ability to uncover the magical mole. 
Keeping her feelings in check while sleuthing alongside Owen, Katie is shocked to discover that her immunity to magic is waning, putting her in grave danger. Soon she’s surrendering to the charms and enchantments of everyone and everything around her, including a killer pair of red stilettos. Katie must now conjure up her natural instincts to get to the bottom of the break-in, regain her power, and win the wizard of her dreams.

My Thoughts.

I read the first book in the series, Enchanted, Inc. early last year and I really liked. It sort of Harry Potter / Chick Lit all rolled into one. The story was fluffy and light, and the characters were new and funny. Once Upon Stilettos continues where the last book left off and does a good job at keeping that happy feeling in the air.

Katie Chandler, a human who isn't affected by magic and works at a big company that makes magical products in New York, is a really amusing character. Not only does she have to deal with her love life, but she has to juggle her tasks at finding the company mole, her parents, her friends, and the evil company competitors.

Although I don't think it was as good as the last book, it wasn't a huge disappointment. Her relationship develops with Ethan as well as Rod and the ever dreamy Owen. It does get a bit redundant at times and its really easy to get frustrated with some of the characters. However, I did really like very real work atmosphere in the novels. If only I could work at a place like that...

What I Liked.
  • Merlin. I love that her boss is the great magician Merlin. Not only is he a big sweet heart, he understands her mistakes and isn't afraid to take control. He would've made an awesome grandpa.
  • The fairy coworkers. You'd think they'd be deceptive and conniving creatures, but they're really relatable characters, people you'd love to have at your own job. They're quirky, unpredictable, and nice - with the obvious few exceptions. Katie's work space dynamic is great.
  • The relationships. Not only does she have Ethan as her boyfriend, there's Owen who walks her to work every day and seems to act in as her best friend in her work space. There's also Rod who's looks drastically improve as her sight seems to go away. The way she handles it is quirky, entertaining, and amusing to read about. It's never to angsty and has just the right amount of cute.
  • The mystery spy during the holidays. Not only does Katie to arrange all the holiday events at her work, she has to track down a spy that's cluing the in evil guys on their work. Secret Santa exchanges have never been more exciting.
  • Her amazingly fabulous stilettos. They're bold, daring, and if I wasn't so tall I would totally wear them. You can tell there's something off about the shoes and I think it play rather well with the rest of the plot.
What I Didn't Like.
  • Her parents visiting her in New York. I don't have anything against her parents nor do I adhere to parents visiting their children over Thanksgiving. I just found that their visit seemed almost like Swendson had nothing else to write about. They didn't contribute anything really important to the story and it didn't seem like they were sent there to foreshadow or set up something important for the future. I was definitely more than a little put off.
  • Katie's roommates. You know that they're there, you just never see them. Sure there are the occasion conversations with them, but it hardly seems like they're that big apart of her life. You think that sharing an apartment with them would make them more relevant characters.
  • Idris. I know he's supposed to be the antagonist in this story, but he doesn't seem like a very good one. I keep thinking he looks like some frat boy turned nerd who wears over sized glasses and torments people in strange and entertaining ways. Evil? I think not.
  • The ending. It ended too abruptly for me, leaving very little closure for the two characters between books. *spoiler* It's one of those cliche endings where they kiss. Meh.
Should You Read It?

Have you read the first book? No? Read it, come back, and then decide. Read it? If you're in the mood, pick it up, but try not to hold really high expectations.

Looking for a bit of light reading? I would stay clear. However, if you're in the neighborhood for a non-serious story with an adorable plot, cute guys, and quirky fairy coworkers give it a try. It's a quick read and goes along quite well with the first book in the series.

Cover Rating
2.5 Stars

It's very '90s and, well, it looks odd. Plus the frog looks really awkward on the cover and kind of misleading. This is not a frog filled book (there are a few, but it's not like, "LOOK! Frog number 44!").


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