February 13, 2022

15 Reactions While Reading The Witch the Sword and the Cursed Knights by Alexandria Rogers

Hi friends! I'm so pleased to be hosting a spot on the TBR and Beyond Tours Blog Tour for The Witch, the Sword, and the Cursed Knights by Alexandria Rogers. Thank you to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for my complimentary review copy of the book! I appreciate the opportunity immensely. Please remember to show the other tour hosts some love as well - I've linked the schedule below for easy access to their pages. 

The Witch, the Sword and the Cursed Knights by Alexandria Rogers Tour Schedule (TBR and Beyond Tours)

About the Book

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Twelve-year-old Ellie can’t help that she’s a witch, the most hated member of society. Determined to prove her worth and eschew her heritage, Ellie applies to the Fairy Godmother Academy—her golden ticket to societal acceptance. But Ellie’s dreams are squashed when she receives the dreaded draft letter to serve as a knight of King Arthur’s legendary Round Table. She can get out of the draft—but only if she saves a lost cause.

Enter Caedmon, a boy from Wisconsin struggling with the death of his best friend. He first dismisses the draft as ridiculous; magic can’t possibly exist. But when Merlin’s ancient magic foretells his family’s death if he doesn’t follow through, he travels to the knights’ castle, where he learns of a wicked curse leeching the knights of their power.

To break the curse, Ellie and Caedmon must pass a series of deathly trials and reforge the lost, shattered sword of Excalibur. And unless Ellie accepts her witch magic and Caedmon rises to become the knight he’s meant to be, they will both fail—and the world will fall to the same darkness that brought King Arthur and Camelot to ruin.

15 Reactions While Reading The Witch the Sword and the Cursed Knights by Alexandria Rogers

  1. End of Prologue: Ooh! That was an ominous opening. I wonder who Madam Mysterieuse is, and how they (and the contents of the letter) play into the story

  2. Chapter One: Wowza! The way they address letters in this world “Dear Ellie...frizzy hair in both rain and sun, excruciatingly average” is both blunt and slightly brutal. 

  3. Chapter Three: Talk about dropping a metaphorical bomb on someone. Caedmon’s introduction into the magical world is neither gradual nor gentle. But then again, what middle-grade fantasy character’s introduction to magic is? 

  4. Chapter Six: Woohoo! First intro to the Knights of the Round Table. I wonder if the author will introduce some of the knights from the original tale into the story (Lancelot, Percival, Gwaine….)

  5. Chapter Ten: Is there an “adults-speaking-in-riddles” to a plain English dictionary I could borrow? I completely empathize with the frustration the kids are feeling with the lack of clear directions at this point in the story.

  6. Chapter Thirteen: I always love it when there’s a brainiac young character whose first instinct is to use their brain. What will Ellie and the others do with this new piece of information? *cue ominous music*

  7. Chapter Sixteen: Favorite Quote Time! “Excalibur was not made for a warrior king. IT was made for a boy with indomitable courage.”

  8. Chapter Eighteen: I love it when there’s a poignant mentor-mentee moment in a middle-grade book. Dame Ethyl is officially my favorite adult in the story. 

  9. Chapter Nineteen: I commend the author’s dedication in writing after they made the “rule” that all spells must be in iambic pentameter. I doubt I would have been able to come up with as many as they did. 

  10. Chapter Twenty One: Ellie’s mother is a total jerk. I don’t want to spoil things for readers, but one of the reveals in this chapter reinforces me not liking her. 

  11. Chapter Twenty Seven: Do or do not. There is no “try”, young knight-in-training. 

  12. Chapter Twenty Eight: Ooh, this is an interesting take on Guinevere’s involvement in the story. 

  13. Chapter Thirty: Plot Twist! Is REDACTED related to REDACTED?

  14. Chapter Forty-Six: I love a good evil villain monologue where they explain all their evil plans to the hero. 

  15. Chapter Fifty-One - Beware of a cliffhanger, friends. I now have no choice to wait for the next installment so I can find out what happens after that ends.

REVIEW of The Witch, the Sword and the Cursed Knights by Alexandria Rogers
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Release Date: February 8, 2022
Format: ARC (from Publisher)
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Alexandria Rogers’ The Witch, the Sword, and the Cursed Knights is a magical, adventure-filled new middle-grade fantasy! An engaging and innovative take on the legend of Arthur and Merlin, I can easily envision fantasy readers of all ages (but especially children) enjoying this. If this is Alexandria Rogers’ debut novel, I can’t wait to read any other books she may write in the future!

One hallmark of a great retelling in my opinion is using enough of the original story that it's recognizable while also changing things up such that it’s clearly a unique take. Ms. Rogers delivers on that idea; she took all of my favorite parts of the original legend and wove them into an innovative and fresh version of the tale. I really appreciated how she didn’t rely on all of the original figures connected to the Round Table (Lancelot, Gawain, Galahad, etc.) - most of them aren’t even referenced until later in the book. Her unique take on the story allowed for even die-hard fans of the original tale (a.k.a me) to be surprised here and there by plot twists, and I loved that! My favorite quote (that kind of embodies the direction the author seemed to want to take the story) is this: “Excalibur was not made for a warrior king. It was made for a boy with indomitable courage.”

It was a beautiful experience to be able to watch the friendship and bonds between the main characters, Ellie and Caedmon, grow. They both have some issues in their family life, but they were able to find a family with each other and some of the other draftees (*cue happy tears*). It was also heartwarming to see how they needed each other to be able to fulfill their destiny - talk about a full-circle moment, especially for two characters who felt so alone at the beginning of the book. 

The world-building was fantastic! There are a lot of creatures and magic and different elements that were incorporated, and I never had an issue envisioning things. Most of the worldbuilding is explored through Caedmon’s eyes (given that he is new to the magical realm), and it was exciting to be able to experience things alongside him. 

If a kid-friendly Arthurian legend retelling complete with a strong hero and heroine, hilarious antics, and lots of intricate worldbuilding sounds like something you would enjoy, then pick up The Witch, the Sword, and the Cursed Knights today!  I would happily recommend this book to fantasy readers at the middle-grade level and above. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher Little Brown Books for Young Readers, the team at TBR and Beyond Tours, and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book as part of my participation in the blog tour. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review The Witch, the Sword, and the Cursed Knights immensely! Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way.

About the Author

After receiving her master’s degree at City, University of London for her non-fiction book on the romantic mythology of Paris, she acted, modeled, and wrote in Los Angeles. Eventually, she discovered she preferred drizzly days to eternal sunshine, and that she didn’t want anything to divert her time from writing.

Now the Wisconsin native lives in Edinburgh with her husband and dog, in eternal search of excuses to visit Paris.

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