Alex Flinn
HarperTeen, 2013

If there's one thing I know about fairy tale retellings/novelizations, it is that Alex Flinn can write a mean one. Whew.

Where to start ... In case you couldn't figure it out, Towering is Rapunzel-revisited. But it's also so much more than that - it's also the story of Wyatt, and how he has to face his demons to be able to help the mysterious (and beautiful) girl in the tower. It's the story of heartbroken parents and missing, forgotten people. It's the story of a small town, lost in the backwoods of upstate New York, with dark shadows and unanswered questions. It's the story of how two teenagers' destiny is unexplainably intertwined and that sometimes, at the age of (almost) seventeen, you can find your true love.

Told in alternating points of view, between Wyatt ("Prince Charming," if you will) and Rachel (our Rapunzel), the story builds tension and a little mystery, without getting too bogged down. Wyatt's been sent to live with the mother of his mom's former best friend, to help 'get over' a tragedy. Rachel's the girl being kept in a remote tower, by a woman she calls 'Mama', hiding for her life because the people who killed her real mother would love to kill her too. Somehow, magically, Wyatt hears Rachel - and she senses him. They're brought together by destiny, and together learn to conquer demons of the past and uncertainties about the present (let alone the future). In the process, they not only fall hopelessly in love (of course), but uncover the dark secrets holding the remote region hostage.

What I loved about Towering is that there's a catch. I never saw it coming until one little clue in the text, and even then I didn't guess the full scope of things. Which was way fun, since I love to be caught by surprise (when it's a good one, and not emotional trauma like Froi of the Exiles). An arresting and delightful translation of Rapunzel into a modern setting, and another excellent addition to Flinn's fairy tale repertoire.

Book provided by my local library.

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