Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke – Review

Posted June 8, 2015 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Reviews / 39 Comments

Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke – ReviewDamsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke
Published by Spencer Hill Press on 10/1/14
Genres: Depression & Mental Illness, Performing Arts, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 321
Source: Library
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Depression, Cutting)
My rating:
5 Stars

Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters’ story. Those girls don’t get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing.

Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after–in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.

When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.

While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.

And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.


My Take

I recently read a review for Damsel Distressed by Mishma over at Chasing Faerytales and it convinced me that I needed to read this book SOON! Well, thank you, Mishma, for introducing me to this book!! I don’t know how it didn’t get more buzz when it came out. (Maybe I missed it? Did I miss it? Because it totally deserves buzz!) But I am incredibly glad that I found it!

The synopsis describes the book well, but it makes the book sound much lighter than it really is. This is not an easy read. At all. But I loved it! The book follows Imogen, who has suffered from depression since her mother died when she was a child. She finds some solace in being a techie for her school’s theatre productions and in her best friend (and crush), Grant, who has stood beside her through all of her darkest moments.

 What I loved:

  • A realistic depiction of depression. Even after reading Mishma’s review, I still for some reason thought that this would be a lighter read. Maybe just the whole fairy tale reference thing made it seem like the book wasn’t going to take itself too seriously. Well, that was completely untrue. This book was a completely realistic and sometimes dark look at depression. Imogen has some serious mental health issues because of her mother’s death and her own insecurities. She often spirals into utter depression and can’t pull herself out, no matter how much she wants to. She also struggles with cutting. Reading from her perspective was sometimes hard because Imogen is definitely a flawed main character. Not only is she incredibly hard on herself, she’s bitter about the people around her because she has been bullied and because she sometimes just takes her own insecurities out on other people (at least in her own mind and in her journal – she isn’t outright mean to people). Imogen feels broken and she doesn’t know that she can be fixed. She knows that her feelings are wrong and sometimes irrational, but she can’t change them. I found this to be incredibly realistic. The fact is that depression is an illness, and you can’t simply tell yourself to cheer up and snap out of it. It doesn’t work that way. And, while Imogen’s friends help her through her pain, the mere presence of people who love her doesn’t cure her depression. The book is hopeful, but realistic in leaving the reader with the knowledge that Imogen most likely will still fall victim to depression again, but that she has a support system and will be able to get through it!
  • Emotions. I had no idea I would cry so much when I read this book. I cried. A lot.
  • Grant. Grant is pretty much the perfect best friend for Imogen, and you can completely see why she’s in love with him. Not only has he supported her through thick and thin, he is sweet and funny, and Imogen is lighter and funnier when she’s with him because she feels like she can be herself when he’s around. When Grant is in the story with Imogen, the book lives up to that cute, sweet feeling that you get in the blurb, and it’s a great balance to the darker parts of the book. Grant is also nerdy, but in a totally adorable way (LOVE his sciency shirts!). And Imogen’s other friends are awesome too!
  • Body image. One of Imogen’s main areas of insecurity is her body image. She weighs 200 pounds at five feet tall and she thinks about her size A LOT. I loved that Imogen did realize by the end of the book that she could look pretty and that size isn’t the only factor in beauty!


  • Imogen. Some people might have a hard time reading Imogen’s perspective because it is really sad and dark sometimes. She gets down on herself constantly and she has some really negative thoughts about other people sometimes too. By the time we see her in a depressed episode, we kind of want to shake her and tell her to see the people who care about her around her. But that’s kind of the point. The fact is that these people who love her can’t fix her, she has to find ways to come to terms with life and help herself. So, it’s hard, but realistic.

I honestly don’t know why this book hasn’t gotten more attention with the current trend of YA books that address mental health issues, but I highly recommend it. If you’re ready for an honest and sometimes heartbreaking look at adolescence and depression, then you need to read this book! I give it an enthusiastic 5/5 stars.

About the Author


Author Links:

 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png icon_facebook_32x32  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png


39 responses to “Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke – Review

  1. I’ve not heard about this book, which is a pity because the cover looks so pretty 😉 May have just added it to my Goodreads ‘to-read’ list mainly for that reason.

    This is a great review! It’s really tempting to go off and read it now…

  2. I almost requested this book before it came out but decided against it. Too bad I did because it sounds like a fantastic novel. I’m definitely going to check it out as soon as a can. I loved your review for it!

  3. Wow. Just… why haven’t I read this yet! I bought it as soon as I read Mishma’s review, and now I should read it since I have read your review. I need this in my life. I mean, anything with a realistic depiction of depression NEEDS to be read. Also, I am in the mood for a tearjerker (which may sound weird, but i need a good cry). I am going to try to fit this one in ASAP, thanks for the review- and I agree, it DOES need to be on more radars!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted: (Way more than) Ten Upcoming Must-Reads
    • Yeah, sometimes you read a review and you think, “I need to add that book to my TBR” and sometimes you read a review and think, “I need to read that book NOW!” That was pretty much my reaction to Mishma’s review. I definitely recommend getting right on this one.

    • It just didn’t get a lot of attention, it doesn’t seem. Maybe because Spencer Hill is a smaller publisher? I don’t know, but I think it deserves just as much buzz as those others!

  4. This one is definitely one on my TBR that I would love to read as soon as possible! I am someone who is very interested in mental illnesses, but this one sounds like it is a very accurate portrayal as well, which is what draws me to it all the more.

    Olivia Roach recently posted: Dust (Review)
  5. Moral of the story – listen to Mishma’s words and go by them:)
    I am so glad that you read and loved this book Nicole! This book means a lot to me and broke my heart, and I wish that it’s more popular as Damsel Distressed is painfully underrated.
    Thank you so much for this beautiful review luv!:)

    Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales recently posted: It's my 6 month blogoversary!
  6. Alecia

    I’ve never come across a contemporary fairy tale retelling before and it’s interesting… I would never have thought that with such a unique concept for a book they would also include such dark realistic elements like mental illness. This none has definitely surprised me and I look forward to reading it.

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.