Book Review: Enchanted
It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.
When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.
The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past – and hers?
Enter for your chance to win an ARC of Enchanted! Ends May 1, 2012!
I will start off this review by saying that, yes, I am biased. I am a HUGE fan of fairy tale re-tellings. I admit, I watched Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics on Nickelodeon back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I know nearly every Disney fairy tale movie by heart and you may occasionally find me sitting in my living room watching Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, even to this day. I do my best to read every re-telling that I hear about, simply because I want to reach into the world of fairy tales as often as I can. Do I always like the re-tellings? Most certainly not, in fact there have been many cases in which I have downright despised them.
Such is not the case with ENCHANTED, a charming and whimsical re-telling of The Frog Prince. From the very first words of the opening chapter I was enraptured by the world that Alethea created. Her world is an overflowing cornucopia of every fairytale reference you could possibly imagine. Enchanted is everything a fairy tale fan needs and, in a way, you can tell that Alethea wrote this book just for us. But who knows, it may also create a few converts, too!
At its core, Enchanted is the tale of the Frog Prince (Rumbold) and his true love (Sunday). It’s about how they meet and fall in love and whether or not they will reach their “happily ever after”. But wait! The story doesn’t end there. Revolving around the central arc is a tale so dark, so sinister it could challenge even the darkest imaginings of the Brothers Grimm. Not only do we have to be concerned about the outcome for the main character, Sunday, and her beloved frog prince, we also have to worry about her sisters (named for the other days of the week), the rest of her family, as well as the members of the royal family. I was fearful for the ultimate outcome of our characters, because in Althea’s world there isn’t always a guaranteed “happily ever after”…
These are not your standard cookie cutter fairly tale characters. Nope, they are woodcutter characters! Haha! (Excuse the pun. Once you read it you’ll understand.) Who would have thought that the author could reach so deeply into the lives of the characters in a FAIRY TALE, of all things. Fairy tales are typically stories where the characters are hollow molds used as pawns to “act out” the scenes. In the classics, there is rarely any true insight into the minds of the protagonists, nor the evil villains they encounter. Characters simply do what they do because they do it. Thankfully, this is not the case in Enchanted!
Rumbold was cursed for a reason. This reason is discussed in detail. The curse also affects who Rumbold is as a person. Yes, the book even discusses the physical and psychological effects that being a frog may have had on the prince after he has become human again. Rumbold is a character that I immediately sympathized (*cough* fell in love *cough*) with, even as a frog. He is a charmingly awkward, yet witty young man (er, frog) with obvious personal issues. But underneath it all you know there is a dashing prince who can surely pull through. I may have found a new fairy tale crush!
Sunday is the perfect young lady to compliment the prince. As the youngest of seven (what she assumes to be more interesting) sisters named for (what she believes to be better) days of the week, she feels unnoticed, uninteresting, and inferior in nearly every way. (I mean, who really wants to be described as “blithe and bonny and good and gay”??) Her only consolation is the stories she writes about her family in her journal. But she only writes stories about what’s happened in the past, since for some reason there’s a magic inside her that makes her stories that have not already occurred come true. In Sunday’s world, this is not necessarily a good thing. Every action in Enchanted has an equal reaction, and the magic contained within Sunday could cause a significantly powerful reaction indeed, one that could affect all those around her.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the other characters in this book. Just as enjoyable as the leads were Sunday’s sisters, as well as her “side-kick” brother Trix. Each of these characters has their own personality traits that could easily have been stereotypical, but somehow managed not to be, at least to me. Each girl’s fate has been “determined” by her name, but that doesn’t mean the author doesn’t throw in some surprises here and there about the characters. I enjoyed reading about about each and every one; from the quippy Erik and Velius, to the orderly Mrs. Woodcutter and the intrusive godmothers.
Alethea is adept as giving us a feel for this fairy tale world. I felt like I could have been reading any one of the classics. Her tone is whimsical like the classics, yet they also contain the feeling and emotion found in more modern tales.
The only problem I could really have had with the book is the fact that, at times I had to read passages over again to fully grasp where we were and what was going on; particularly those passages that occurred shortly after Rumbold became human again, where the scenes jump forward at an awkward pace (but then again, so does the prince). Perhaps it was just me. It’s a minor complaint, though, since I’ve had to do this with other highly rated books, as well.
The book jumps right into the story from page one. Within two pages we are introduced to both Sunday and Rumbold, as they meet for the very first time. From beginning to end, Enchanted is highly entertaining, whether it’s moving the story forward or referencing another fairy tale for fun. I did not feel it lagging in any way. When we weren’t dealing with the complexities of the story, we were at least being served a bit of fairy tale fan girl (or boy) goodness. The fact that there is really more than one story going on here provides for plenty of action throughout. The resolution is also both well plotted and highly satisfying, making Enchanted a wonderful tale from beginning to end.
As I read Enchanted, I felt giddy each time I noticed the sly little ways that Alethea would throw in her fairy tale references. Oftentimes you can tell when they are included “just for fun”, but at other times the references are an integral part of the overall story. Regardless, it’s fun to see how many references you can spot while reading.
Enchanted is a charming, romantic and, at times, a fairly intense read. The story feels like that of a classic fairy tale, but it also accomplishes something that the classics did not: it successfully weaves together an engrossing plot with a deep connection to the characters. And, in the end, that’s what makes for a great story and not just a great fairy tale. If you allow yourself to be swept away by the story that the author weaves, you will ultimately be rewarded with a highly enjoyable new fairy tale that you’ll likely read and re-read again for years to come. I know I will.
As stated within the book: “Gifts, like words, carried with them a great deal of power. They bestowed good fortune just as powerfully as they could curse; they could bind people together or tear them apart.” In my opinion, Alethea’s words are a wonderful gift indeed.
Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win an ARC of Enchanted! Ends May 1, 2012!
Posted on April 27, 2012, in Book Review, Five Star and tagged Alethea Kontis, Book Review, Books, Enchanted, Fairy Tales, Five Stars, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Re-telling, The Frog Prince, YA, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.