Locked by Penelope Wren | ARC review

My rating: ❤❤❤❤ of 5!


I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book and, voluntarily decided to post my honest review.



The book is fast paced, unique and even though, Penelope have changed a few things (hello, Reverse Harem spin) she still manages to stay somewhat true to the fairy tale. So, in my opinion Penelope almost nailed this retelling of Rapunzel.


In this version Rapunzel aka Zelle lives in her tower with her talking cat, Basil, and unlimited Wi-Fi access. Well, unlimited as long as she obeys “Mother”. Mother bares more similarity to the wicked witch than to any maternal parent, but I assume that’s what she wants Zelle to call her. Anyway, Zelle was given to Mother years ago, when she discovered Zelle’s dad stealing green stuff on her property. Or at least that’s what she’s told Zelle her entire life.


The 22-year-old Zelle lives a very simplified existence where Mother truly knows best. Disobeying her leads to lost Wi-Fi signals and no access to her sun garden. The denied access to the garden is particularly cruel, as Rapunzel is a green witch that thrives on sunshine and plants. Obeying her doesn’t really makes much difference, because Mother is the kind of person that looks for things she can punish Zelle for. When she doesn’t find too many of those, she threatens Basil and actually, goes as far as trying to kill him.


To pass time Zelle starts a blog and through that, she gets to know three elves:


  • Kinden
  • Rifyr
  • Sorrel


When we’re introduced to them, they’re kind of already Zelle’s online boyfriends but they still haven’t met. The tower Zelle lives in has some magical borders/rules. If there’s more than two humanoids in the building, the power explodes. However, the same goes if there’s none in the building. So, whilst Zelle cannot leave, the elves can visit as long as it’s only one at a time. In this day and age, you’d think they could just do some video calls, but even that proves to be tricky, as Mother somehow knows when Zelle access the camera on her tablet. So, first she has to find some protective magic, that shields the use of the camera app. Zelle succeeds at that and manages to have video calls with each of her men.


Of course, these three elves can’t and won’t just leave Zelle in her prison, so they do try to come up with a plan of how to free her. However, as Mother knows best she constantly seems to be one step ahead of them. But as this is a fairy tale inspired Reverse Harem, a Happy Ending is guaranteed.


The only reason I’m not giving this book five stars is because there’s quite a few noticeable errors. Sentences like “he said so he said” – where one of the “he said” should have been removed. It’s not major mistakes, it’s just some stuff that haven’t been picked up by the author, editor and BETA readers. However, for me it stuck out. Towards the end Mother again takes Zelle’s sun garden and Wi-Fi privileges away. This time it’s no problem because Zelle have practised her magic and thus, she can still access both things. However, Mother doesn’t know Zelle has done this and two weeks later, she sends her an email. That obviously doesn’t add up. You wouldn’t email someone you assume isn’t online.  It is a possibility that Mother knows Zelle is online (even though she hasn’t posted on her blog, which Mother checks every evening), but whether it’s that or a mistake, it’s not explained. Again, I’m aware it’s not mistakes that really ruin anything, but it did make me a tad confused.

On a positive note this book reads like something Penelope had fun writing and seriously, it’s one of the best feelings reading something where you can tell the writing part was enjoyed. I was a bit sceptic when I received my ARC copy because the only other book I’ve read by Penelope (Unsuitable) didn’t wow me, however, that’s definitely rectified in this book. Even though, it is a standalone it had me wanting more.


How do you feel about retellings of fairy tales? Is it something you enjoy reading? Comment and let me know.


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6 thoughts on “Locked by Penelope Wren | ARC review”

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