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Damsel Distressed

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  968 ratings  ·  208 reviews
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 dis
Paperback, 321 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Spencer Hill Contemporary (first published 2014)
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Hazel (Stay Bookish)
Visit Stay Bookish to win a copy of this book and for more book reviews!

Have you ever had a book speak to you even before you actually read it? Because I can confidently say that Damsel Distressed spoke to me. It wasn’t even a case of ‘judge a book by its cover’ because I knew about this book before it had its gorgeous cover. I’d simply read the summary and some more bits that Kelsey shared about the book and I knew I needed to read Damsel Distressed. I was so excited about this one that I even
Paula M

You can also read my review here!

"I am whole. I am more than just the pieces that I see. I am stronger than I seem"


Wow. That gif right there is right, my feelings right now is indescribable. Kelsey Macke just slayed me with her words. I can literally feel my heart squeezing while reading Imogen's thoughts. I don't know how to go about reviewing this book. Frankly, this is a book that will linger in my mind for the rest of my life. It made an impact on me.

Imogen is overwe
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Warning : This isn't a review, just a please still love me post. Yikes.

Actual rating : 2.5/5

(Of course the 'yes' is ticked, you know I'm a hopeful girl, right?)

Because I think my I'm putting this on hold because I'm feeling too guilty to dnf it "I didn't like the book that much" is a case of That's not the book but me.

To be clear:
I don't want to be annoyed but I am. Sorry Imogen, maybe I just reached my month limit in teenagers' insecurities.
I don't want to be bored but well, I am. Sorr
shady boots
4.5 stars. This was great. Just great. Also, this book is begging for me to do this so I just have to:


Brooke (The Cover Contessa)
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
I would like to thank Spencer Hill Contemporary for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way altered my opinion or review.

Imagine you are Cinderella's sister. She's gorgeous and beautiful and everyone loves her. Your fat and you have tons of mental health issues and people aren't quite sure what to make of you. Well this is that story. The story where we come to see that Cinderella's step sister is not quite who we though
Gray Cox
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of the most original re-tellings I've read since Marissa Meyer.

Instead of the gorgeous Ella being the sweet protagonist, why don't we switch it around to the ugly stepsister?

YES. A 100%, yes.

Besides the plot idea, this was beautifully written. 'I am made of glass. And I've been broken before. I've been in a million little razor-cut pieces and I've been totally lost and alone.'-Damsel Distressed (pg. 85).

Most books I've read dealing with depression, anxiety, and self-harm have rom
Erin Lynn
Full review can be seen at The Hardcover Lover.

First of all, I must applaud Kelsey Macke for the creation of this stunning book. Everything in this book is just perfect. It made me cry. It made me laugh. I pretty much experienced every human emotion possible while reading my book. In my opinion, I feel like the more emotions represented make it a better and more captivating read.

The main character, Imogen, is unlike any YA character that I've ever seen in a book before. First of all, she's overw

TW's: cutting

DNF at 68%

I give up. It's not that the book is badly written _ it isn't _, but for the life of me I can't listen to Imogene's whining anymore. Yes, she has clinical depression. Yes, her mother died seven years ago when she was about ten years old... I'm not a sociopath, that made me sad, BUT, she has had so much support that I've reached a point in which I just want to scream at her, as well as to keep her from binge eating junk food until she throws up...
Some people at this point
Actual rating: 2.5 stars
“This hurt is never going away. Ever. And neither is yours. But that doesn't mean life is over.”

This book is certainly not for everybody. The chances that you love this book largely depends on whether you relate to it and how much you understand it from the main character's perspective, like really feel her, be patient with her and not hate her at all despite how intolerable she is.

Imogen, the main character, is struggling with depression due to grief from her mother'
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Adorable. Heartfelt. Emotional. Genuine. Raw. Beautiful.

These are all words that I would use to describe this wonderful debut novel by Macke. She took a retelling, twisted it and made it absolutely her own so much so that you barely see the original story underneath.

Gen is not your average stepsister fairy tale villain and the princess of the story, is not a princess at all.

Macke tackles some pretty challenging, pretty tough emotional issues in this story and she does it with such finesse that
Erica Crouch
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing

I love Kelsey Macke, and when I heard that her book, Damsel Distressed, was coming out, I was excited and terrified. I’ve heard so much about it from her and knew that I wanted to read it — but I was worried. What if it wasn’t good? Or if I just didn’t like it? What would I do then? Luckily, and unsurprisingly, Kelsey Macke wrote a beautiful, wonderful, brilliant story of rich characters and I can say with absolute sincerity that I loved (*LOVED*) Damsel Distressed.

Imogene Dacanay
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

Damsel Distressed has the most beautiful and promising dedication I've ever read

“We often try to hide the parts of ourselves that have been broken. We work so hard to make sure other people never see the bits that make us feel weak. This book is dedicated to those precious, fractured fragments, for teaching us to grow and hope and never, ever stop fighting.”

Reading the first line, I knew I was hooked.

I really like the character of Imogen, despite the fact that her name is only a l
Most of us grew up with stories of happily ever after, of good triumphing over evil. But in real life the beautiful girl isn't always the good, kind-hearted princess; and the plain girl isn't always the bitter, angry monster. Sometimes it's the other way around...

This is a retelling of...


Imogen Keegan has been depressed ever since her mother's death. It also doesn't help that her father is always away and leaves her in the care of her stepmother. Imogen drowns her sorrows away in containers
Alex Toney
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Though its premise is one we've all seen before, Damsel Distressed manages to bring something fresh to the Evil Stepsister subgenre. This 'something' is probably the book's main character, the delightfully wry Imogen Keegan. Imogen is overweight, clinically depressed, and struggles with self-harm. And though my issues have been different than hers, I found myself relating to her in an unexpected way.

This is in part because the novel is told in compelling first person. Macke has a way with dialo
I'm kind of biased because I work for Spencer Hill Contemporary and I'm working directly on this book. But guys, this book was AMAZING. I cried so hard and so many times while reading it, I can't even begin to tell you. I felt like I could relate to Imogen on so many levels. If you haven't added it to your TBR, you should! If you love books with relatable characters and raw, honest emotions, then this is DEFINITELY a book you want to get your hands on! ...more
Lisa (lifeinlit)

Can I just leave the review like that? Just read this book. Trust me. The end.

No? Okay… I will say more, even though I don’t think it’s truly necessary. ;)


Imogen is an extremely fragile teenager. She’s battling emotional issues (including depression, panic attacks, low self-esteem, etc.) that have left her with a less-than-stellar label at school of “emotionally disturbed”. With only her one friend, Grant, she is struggling to keep her head above water and not lose it completely
Nicole M. Hewitt
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

I don't know how this book 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 ch
Leanne Crabtree
4.5 stars.

This book turned out quite nice. It's almost inspirational for the bigger girl (which I am). How Gen overcame all the struggles she'd faced in her life. I've been feeling all of her highs and lows with her because I think she's going through something we all face but hers has been harder with her finding it hard to deal with the death of her mother.

I could tell that there were feelings of more than friendship between Grant and Gen, and he was a really great friend to her, as were the r
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I am whole. I am more than just the pieces that I see. I am much stronger than I seem.

A lot of people loved this and I was excited to read about this. I love retellings especially if it's about the perspective of the antagonist of a fairytale. I thought this book is just like that and I was very wrong. But the premise is great nonetheless and the writing style is very smooth.

The problem is, Imogen, the main character isn't someone I agree with. I disagree with everything the character spouts
Mishma Nixon
I knew that I am going to love Damsel Distressed even before I started it.I learned about this book from Hazel @ Stay Bookish.After reading her beautiful review for this Cinderella retelling,I knew I had to give this book a shot.Fortunately for me,I could borrow a copy from Nuz @ Say it With Books and thanks to both of them,I found my next new favourite book which ruined and left me drowning in feels and tears.

Damsel Distressed is the story of Imogen Keegan.A chubby,overweight,insecure girl who'
This is one amazing and powerful book. If you've ever felt sad and had any insecurities, you will feel connected with Imogen in one way or another and will feel like her pain is your pain.

I am not clinically depressed and I have not Imogen's issues but I have dealt with insecurities before and even if I'm much better know, there's always a lil something in the back of my head, and now dealing with the emotional distress of a massive heartbreak... Reading this book has meant a lot of anxiety flar
Find this review and more at kimberlyfaye reads .

I loved this book SO VERY HARD. I was intrigued by the idea of it from the very first minute I saw the cover and read the synopsis. Initially I thought it would be a simple retelling of Cinderella, but it's not. Sure the basics are there, but this book is so much more.

Everyone wants to see a little bit of themselves in the characters in the books they read. While I can't say I completely related to Imogen, I definitely felt like I understood h
Let me start off by saying that I loved the premise of this book before I even started reading it. Damsel Distressed incorporates a completely different twist on the average Cinderella tale and I knew that the book was going to be either a big hit or a total miss. Seeing as I did not enjoy the last fairy tale adaptation that I read, I was hoping for a hit.

To my delight, I thoroughly enjoyed Damsel Distressed. The main character, Imogen, is not a poor girl who has to do all of the chores in the h
Dan Jr.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm so wrapped up in Kelsey Macke's novel that, out of left field on page 262, I've got to choke back the tears. And I say left field because the only books or movies that make me cry are "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural." (Baseball movies and short stories from a distant time.) Imogen is a wonderful lead for the book, and Macke surrounds her with a cast of distinctive characters. Makes me wish that I'd tried theater in high school instead of opting for one of the silent Three Wise Men in a Ch ...more
Jen Malone
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is not the least bit didactic BUT it does have a beautiful message about learning self-acceptance, though Imogen goes through the ringer to get there. Her voice is smart and sarcastic and, even with the barriers she puts in her own way, she's very easy to root for. The side characters who form Imogen's support team were my favorite, and special props go to love interest Grant for being 100% dreamy 100% of the time! ...more
Jen Bojkov
Just finished this book. Loved, loved, loved it! Imogen has earned a place beside some my other favorite flawed, but interesting literary characters. Kelsey Macke does a wonderful job of creating a young woman with an authentic voice- I believed Imogene was real as I was reading. That's the gold standards for me. This book and accompanying album will be released in October. Go buy it. Please. You'll be happy you did. ...more
Charley Cook
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A reverse fairytale retelling with a plus size moody theatre geek? HELLS YES!
Jacqueline Smith
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not an easy book to read, and when I say that, I say it with the highest esteem.
Imogen Keegan is something of a wreck. Ever since her mother's sudden death, she's battled depression, weight issues, and thoughts of self-harm. Now her father has remarried and her gorgeous, evil stepsister is moving into the room next door.
Damsel Distressed is a beautifully written, deeply moving, and profoundly real debut novel. And that's why I say it wasn't easy to read. Because Kelsey Macke has create
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Many thanks to both publisher and author who provided this book free of charge for an honest review.

Fairytales need happy endings, but what happens when you take a closer look at the supporting characters and dig deeper into their stories? Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke takes a contemporary look on the tale of Cinderella from the eyes of the 'ugly' stepsister. Enter Imogen, a junior in high school struggling with a whole batch of problems ranging from depression to struggling with self-harm
Sep 28, 2016 added it
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Kelsey B. Toney has been creative for as long as she can remember. Her formative years were a swirl of bad poetry, journals full of songs, and absolutely TONS of jazz hands. DAMSEL DISTRESSED, (published under the name Kelsey Macke) gold medal winner of the 2014 Moonbeam Award for YA, was released with its own soundtrack, Imogen Unlocked, a full album of original songs inspired by the book. Kelsey ...more

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“The End" is just the beginning.” 7 likes
“They’ve been lying from the start. From the first time we read the words ‘once upon a time,’ we’re fed the idea that these girls—these gorgeous, demure, singing-with-the-wildlife girls—get a happy ending. And I get it. Poor thing had to do some chores around the house, fine. But the idea that she needs a magic old lady to come down and skim off the dirt so the prince will see her beauty? That’s ridiculous. Maybe she should have been working on her lockpicking skills instead of serenading squirrels. She could have busted out, hitched a ride to the castle, and impressed the prince with her safe-cracking prowess. Sorry, magic-fairy lady. She didn’t need your help.” 6 likes
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